Thursday, February 01, 2007

A Step in the Right Direction

I'm not against Greyhound racing in general. Greyhounds love to run, it's what they are bred for. I practically see Julieta smile when she lets loose in the yard. She makes me dizzy, as she blurs past me in figure eights, growling a "You can't catch me" each time she passes closest to me. What I am opposed to is the neglect and cruelty that goes along with treating an animal as a commodity and not a living thing.

In my opinion, these noble, gentle, loving creatures deserve better than that. The article below brings awareness of their living conditions and I hope, at the very least, helps to improve conditions and treatment. Julieta came to me from the Seabrook Track's REGAP program.

From the Union Leader

Bill could shut down NH greyhound tracks

Senior Political Reporter
Tuesday, Jan. 30, 2007

Six lawmakers and a nationwide nonprofit group want to shut down New Hampshire's greyhound racing industry by 2009, citing poor kennel conditions and more than 100 serious or life-ending injuries in the past two years at the state's three tracks.

The "Dog Protection Act" sponsored by Rep. Peter Schmidt, D-Dover, Sen. Sheila Roberge, R-Bedford, and four other lawmakers would effectively force the closure of Seabrook Greyhound, Hinsdale Raceway and The Lodge at Belmont (formerly Lakes Region Greyhound Park).

Proponents say they have collected what they consider shocking photographs of kennel conditions at the state tracks from the state Pari-Mutuel Commission and have compiled injury reports filed at the commission.

They say reports for 2005 and 2006 show 716 injuries with 22 percent, or 157, deemed "career or life-ending."

A key industry leader accused the Massachusetts-based nonprofit Grey2KUSA, which is promoting the bill on its Web site, of twisting statistics and other materials to suit its animal rights agenda.

"This is our livelihood and the livelihood of over 100 employees, and we will certainly fight this," said Joseph Sullivan, Hinsdale Raceway president.

He said his track runs 15 races a day, 52 weeks a year with at least eight dogs per race.

"We're talking about 11,000 or 12,000 dogs racing here over the course of a year and if you take the number of injuries reported, that's a small percentage," he said.

Editor's note: Sullivan today clarified the preceding statement. He said the state’s tracks have have 500 to 1,000 dogs apiece, with each dog racing every few days. He said Hinsdale holds 15 daily races year-round, with at least eight dogs in each race, adding up to 11,000 to 12,000 race “starts” annually, Sullivan said. The track’s injury rate is three per 1,000 starts, he said.

Schmidt and other proponents interviewed yesterday said they have no "philosophical objection" to having greyhounds race. They said the problem is how the dogs are treated by the industry.

"It's the idea that man's best friend is being exploited, used up and then thrown away," said Schmidt. "They are kept in conditions which I think are inhumane, all on behalf of an industry that is not really viable except in conjunction with the gambling aspect of it."

Commission records show that live greyhound racing is a small and declining percentage of the amount bet in the state's greyhound racing industry. But tracks are required to hold live racing at least 50 days in order to simulcast racing events from other states, which is their primary money-maker. If live racing is banned, the tracks would, in effect, be unable to simulcast and would presumably go out of business.

A draft of the bill makes it a class A misdemeanor to "keep, breed, transport, or train any dog with the intent that it or its offspring shall be engaged or used in commercial dog racing, or shall establish or promote a commercial dog race or meet." It also sets up a study committee to recommend ways to mitigate the negative economic impact in the areas near the three tracks.

Grey2KUSA's stated goal is to pass stronger dog protection laws and shut down existing greyhound tracks across the country. Group executive director Carey Theil said yesterday Vermont and Maine acted to prohibit greyhound racetracks after the existing tracks in those states closed. But, he said, a successful effort in New Hampshire would mark the first time an operating industry is shut down.

Roberge and former Sen. Katie Wheeler, D-Durham, sponsored similar legislation in 2000, but Theil said it was "a non-starter." Proponents say they are now more prepared.

Paul Kelley, Pari-Mutuel Commission executive director, had no comment on the proposed new bill except to say that the commission's job is to enforce policies enacted by the Legislature.

A Web site,, has been set up, while a 65 page report listing the injuries and containing more than a dozen pari-mutuel commission photos of track kennels will be sent to all lawmakers soon, Theil said.

Sullivan called the effort "an animal rights agenda that finds any animal use inappropriate. They will use any means they can to advance that argument. There are no inhumane kennels at Hinsdale," which are inspected by the Pari-Mutuel Commission, and, in the case of an adoption kennel, by the state Department of Agriculture.

He said the photographed kennels of his track in the Grey2kUSA report were "found to be totally appropriate" by the commission.

The bill's co-sponsors are Sen. Deborah Reynolds, D-Plymouth, and Reps. Mary Cooney, D-Plymouth, Elenore Casey Crane, R-Nashua, James Splaine, D-Portsmouth.

Retired greyhounds make great pets

Pittsburgh Tribune-Review

By John Ross
Sunday, January 21, 2007

Dear Dog Talk: I have been reading your Dog Talk column for several years. So many of your readers are seeking a quiet, calm, gentle and devoted canine companion. They might be surprised to learn that the majority of retired racing greyhounds available for adoption fit that description.

Contrary to what most people assume, retired racers are healthy and young. They usually usually are 2 to 4 years old and past the puppy stage. The breed tends to be reserved and quiet. They are notorious couch potatoes that seldom bark.

A huge advantage of rescued greyhounds is that they were bred to be even-tempered and physically sound, rather than just for appearance. They often are exceptionally willing to please and free of hereditary ailments found in some other purebred dogs.

It is not true that greyhounds need extensive exercise. Because they are sprinters rather than distance runners, a brisk walk or romp in a fenced-in yard usually is sufficient.

Another common misconception is that all greyhounds are gray and about the same size. The diversity within the breed is amazing. There are 18 officially recognized color and marking combinations. A greyhound's weight can range from about 45 pounds to more than 90 pounds. Greyhounds shed relatively little and their soft, fine coat is a breeze to groom.

Based on their experiences at the track, greyhounds usually know how to walk on a lead and will stand politely to be groomed, and they have a head start on crate training. Reputable adoption groups foster the dogs to help them adjust to family life, and members of these rescue organizations will work to make a good match between your family and a dog.

If Dog Talk readers have never even seen or considered an adult retired racing greyhound as a pet, check them out. Just type in to locate the group nearest to you.

The Web site typically includes photographs of the dogs available for adoption, notes about the animal's progress and a calendar of events, including "Meet & Greet" where you can talk with owners of greyhounds and interact with foster dogs seeking homes.

Dear Greyhound Advocate: I agree with you 100 percent. I love greyhounds. Adopted, retired greyhounds are some of the nicest dogs that I have ever met. I do talk a little bit about retired greyhounds in my book, "Adopting a Dog."

Check out the Web site. Greyhounds make a really a great pet.


Chunks said...

I don't enjoy any "sport" that involves animals. Horse racing, dog racing, rodeos, cock-fights, dog fights, to me it's like the Miss Universe/America/slut of the month pageants or something. Why does everything have to be a competition? Why do humans feel the need to make animals be competitive? It's bizarre what we have done to the world and all the creatures in it.

Anonymous said...

They shound stop greyhound racing.Some people are real mean to them.And a lot of people write what they saw and got bar from tracks.