Guest column: Racing is not a greyhound's job

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By Kathleen Avalone

Naples

I would like to rebut the guest commentary of Feb. 17 by Jack Cory of the Florida Greyhounds Association.

He says, “Live Greyhound racing is good for Florida, good for the dogs”

I’d like to believe that Cory is just engaging in magical thinking and not intentionally misleading readers.

But these are the facts that Corey surely knows:

* That 95 percent of racing greyhounds are not adopted and not returned to “farms” living out their lives in peace. You may believe this if you were an unfortunate child who was told his/her beloved pet was sent to a “farm” to run free, but instead was euthanized, given away, lost or even abandoned.

* That greyhound puppies are “culled,” a euphemism for killed, if they don’t make the cut in training (sometimes with live bait, such as rabbits, although illegal in many states but very difficult to enforce). He knows that thousands of greyhounds are bred every year, many more than are needed at racetracks in order to produce winning dogs and the excess is disposed of since a greyhound’s racing career is usually over at 3 1/2 to 4 years of age.

Many stories have surfaced of dogs being abandoned in deserted areas, desserts, shot or bludgeoned to death and left to rot because they are no longer profitable and this is the cheapest way to solve their problem. They are literally running for their lives.

As an example, and as reported by Greyhound Network News and Greyhound Protection League, in 2000, an estimated 19,000 greyhounds were killed. This includes 7,600 greyhound puppies who were farm culls, and another 11,400 “retirees” who were not rescued. Other greyhounds are either sold to research labs, returned to breeding facilities to serve as breeding stock or sent to foreign racetracks, sometimes in developing countries with appalling track conditions. Many die in transit.

This continues to this day although the numbers may have decreased since many tracks are closing in other states.

* That the industry is not regulated under the federal Animal Welfare Act but is self-regulated. Well, we know how that works.

* That greyhounds spend the majority of their adult lives in crates or pens with limited human companionship, often muzzled. Many are not climate-controlled. He knows the type of substandard raw food given in insufficient amounts to these dogs to “make them run faster” after a fake prey. He knows this is a miserable life.

A news segment was shown on TV the other day. Defenders of greyhound racing said: “Over 8,000 dogs will lose their jobs,”

Racing is not their job. They didn’t apply for it, and they don’t get fired for not doing well at it — they get killed. I think what the spokesman, whom I believe was a caretaker at a track, was thinking is, “I’ll lose my job!”

Another comment was: “The dogs are like athletes and athletes get injured in their sport.” First, this is not a “sport;” it is a cruel blood industry. Second, while athletes willingly take up their sport, these dogs have no choice. No athlete that I know of gets shot or hit over the head if he/she doesn’t perform.

A political agenda was mentioned as being the reason for wanting to ban greyhound racing. Cory and everyone involved in this industry knows the political agenda lies on their side of this issue, with the breeders, kennel operators and those with tentacles longer and wider than those of these people. Animal advocates have no ulterior motive other than to improve the lives of animals and end their suffering.

Florida will still survive without engaging in this inhumane activity. Many track owners want racing shut down and have formed alliances with animal advocates because it is not profitable; in fact it is hemorrhaging money.

So, Mr. Corey, live greyhound racing is not good for Florida, the dogs, the wallets — or the soul.

Get all the facts about greyhound racing. The Humane Society of the United States has plenty of information, as does Grey2K.

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