Monday, November 9, 2015

Primacy

By Dennis McKeon

The intent and result of good breed custodianship shouldn't be about "keeping the breed around". Yet we often hear people who really have no idea of what managing a population of dogs entails, say things like, "If greyhound racing disappeared, there would still be greyhounds. They've been around for thousands of years before racing".

And while that may be true, it fails to note that for as long as they have been around men, they've always had a job to perform. There are few breeds, sporting or otherwise, whose breeding records can be documented as far back as the 1700s, as can the Greyhound’s.

In any event, as human culture evolved, so did the greyhound's role in human societies. The people who now wish to take away the last functional refuge of the greyhound, are the very same people who have denied him the expression of his original hunting heritage, in almost all areas of the Western world.

Yet it is the primacy of these functions that have informed every fiber, sinew and aspect of your greyhound, from the tip of his nose, right down to the zygote. No one in the USA owns a retired racing greyhound who was "bred to be a pet". That never enters into the selective equation. That mystical, ethereal, beguiling aspect of their nature that we all recognize, but can't quite put words to, is the one common denominator of all greyhounds, throughout history. It is the primacy of their function.

The racing greyhound today, is the result of 100 years of having been bred to perform a specific function, which is simply an improvisation upon its original hunting purpose. That original purpose is, for the vast majority of greyhounds, denied to them today, by law.

So while racing may not be of any interest or attraction to you, it is the only macro-scale activity that reinforces and preserves the primacy of the greyhound, the only thing that supports a vast and genetically diverse greyhound population, and the only thing which stands between that and fringe breed status, or worse, for the Greyhound.

The cause and effect of their breeding, raising, training, handling, environment and experiences as racers, are formative and immutable. The greyhounds we profess to love, are who and what they are, precisely BECAUSE of--not in spite of---all those things. That's how dogs manifest.

And no amount of hysterical and destructive propaganda can change it.

copyright, 2015

Friday, August 14, 2015

Lippy and the Goddess of the Hunt

By Dennis McKeon

I suppose one of the reasons I loved to train greyhounds was rooted in my impatience for all other things but dogs. Most of my personal troubles always were. Why not a good thing? You see, one of the wonderful aspects of race-training, is that if you make a significant change in a dog’s routine, diet or training protocols, you don’t usually have to wait 3-6 months to find out if you did the right thing. I liked that.
You usually receive a quick, definitive answer from the Fates, informing you that you are either a gormless blockhead who might be better off managing ant farms for grade-schoolers, or that you are a blossoming genius whose horizons in canine husbandry are as endless as space itself.
Lippy came to us one mist-drenched spring morning in the emerald mountains called Green. He was nothing to look at, underweight and blowing his coat. Of course, just about every greyhound who was not mine looked underweight to me. I like ‘em fat and sassy.
So I looked Lippy over, and he was most cooperative. He seemed to have no obvious injury issues, and he walked and trotted perfectly, with no hint of imbalance or lameness. Poor guy had no idea what he was doing here in the western mountains, or what he’d done wrong to be sent here. As for myself, well I had no idea why we were sent a 30-month old dog who had graded off at Hinsdale, which was pretty much last call at the time.
But as I said, I was reactively impatient with everything in life but dogs. Someone must have thought something of him. I’d give him a try. I knew I needed to start stuffing Lippy with groceries, he was framed to carry about 10 more pounds than he was packing at the time. I shuddered mentally at the sight of him, but knew that whatever the case may be, he’d be a different dog with some muscle and fat added to his diet and that frame, and some attention to his grooming and fitness.
About an hour after bathing and putting him in his crate, he began to fret--that is, to whine and hyperventilate at once. So I let him out by himself, knowing that any dog stresses out after being thrust into a new situation, and knowing how tough that is for some of them. He was content to lay down in the cool of the pens, and look around at his beautiful new surroundings, as the sun struggled to burn away the misty morning. I had lots of stuff to do, and he’d be fine out there. I told him not to worry about a thing, and he’d be right as rain in a few weeks, and just to learn some patience—as much trying to remind and reassure myself.
As I got the feed ready, I heard the same fretting noises I’d heard before, only this time, coming from the turnout pen. So I went out there, and gave him a nice pet, and brought him back in, putting him up in his new crate, and promising him he was about to have the best meal of his life. As I added the steaming stew to the meat and meal, I asked him if he’d ever smelled anything this good. He didn’t answer until I’d given him his feed pan filled to the brim. I didn’t bother to weigh it, I just piled it on. He devoured it at once, and I had my answer to several questions. A dog with a good appetite for food is usually one with a good appetite for work. And he sure needed both.
So I turned everyone out post-meal—one should always turn the dogs out before and after feeding—and Lippy met his new pack mates without incident. After I had put them all back up, I groomed Lippy thoroughly, paying particular attention to stripping away what tufts of his blown coat hadn’t rinsed off with his bath water. His nails needed filing desperately, and so it was done.
Diana, Goddess of the Hunt
After I had put him back up and while I was puttering around some with the others, he began again to fret. So I figured he needed to go out once more after such a huge meal. I left him there to attend to business while I puttered around some more, and maybe a half an hour later, the same thing. I heard the breathless, coloratura-soprano fretting from the turnout pen.
So Lippy was a fretter, or as they were also called, a “weight loser”. That somewhat explained why he weighed only 59 pounds. In bygone days, dogs who lost more than 3 pounds of body weight while being held in the ginny-pit waiting to race, were designated in the racing program as “weight losers”, with the letters WL printed next to their name. This was to advise the wagering public, though common practice at the time for a trainer, was to keep the dog several pounds heavier than his/her ideal weight, to compensate. Apparently, no one had done that for Lippy. Now, however, Lippy’s kennel life would be spent going in and out of the kennel as his fretting implored—all day long, each and every day. Otherwise, he’d drive us all nuts.
So the verdant and splendid mountain springtime once again revealed its multi-hued tonalism to us as the days went by, and we were surrounded and touched by its magnificence. Lippy grew strong and fit. He proved to be a demon for work, just as I had hoped. Schooling him against moderate stock, it looked as if he had no holes in his game--only the fretting. It went on all day long, and every hour or so, Lippy began to fret, either to be let out or in. And I dutifully obliged him. I wondered what sort of treatment he had received elsewhere for this most disconcerting quirk of nerves. He was a son of Lucky Bannon, who was a great sire and an American Derby winner. Lippy had some class about him--and now, filled out, all muscled and slicked up, he was a sight to behold. He was a most loving and companionable sort, a sweetheart of a greyhound, who wanted to be with you all the time.
I had solved the problem of his keeping the others awake all night with his operatic fretting, by bringing him home with me, when the toys and the music had failed to calm him. He still fretted, but simply letting him out on the lead during the night for a minute or two seemed to do the trick. I was a high-energy person anyway, so I didn’t really mind the interrupted sleep. I sucked it up. And, heck, I enjoyed having Lippy handy.
While having lunch at a local diner, I decided that it was time to put Lippy on for official schooling, and get a sense of who he might be on the racetrack. He was a different dog now. While pondering our plan of attack, I caught a glimpse of the deaf girl who was always there, dining and speaking in sign language to a much older man, who I assumed was her father. They were regulars.
She was an utterly stunning, dusky hued, twenty-something beauty, with dark brown hair and deep brown eyes that were perpetually on fire. I’d seen eyes like that in a greyhound once. It was what we call the “look of eagles”. I couldn’t help but be captivated by her. This day, she seemed more animated than usual, and as I dull-wittedly gazed upon her striking loveliness, she made some motions that indicated to me that I should stop my stupid staring, and come over to her. Ever in the mood for adventure, there I went.
The man she was with said to me, “Donna wants to know if you work with the dogs at the track?” So I told him my story, and he relayed it to Donna, who seemed thrilled by it all. He further informed me that his daughter (I was right) loved the greyhounds, and wanted to have one. So I wrote down their telephone number and said I’d be glad to help arrange an adoption for her if she was still interested when a suitable greyhound became available. I’d have been glad to run up Rattlesnake Mountain backwards, with a backpack full of lead and several New Years Eve noise-makers dangling from my belt loops for her.
Back to business, I entered Lippy for official schooling, and brought him to weigh in on his scheduled day. He weighed in at 70 pounds. The clerk of scales looked at me with a great degree of puzzlement. He then mentioned that for Lippy’s last race--some 60 plus days ago—he had weighed in at 59 pounds. Then the presiding judge came over with Lippy’s Bertillion card, and began to scrutinize what markings were noted on the definitive ID card, including the color of each of Lippy’s nails. Onto the ear tatoos, and everything matched up just fine and dandy. Except for the weight. This should not have been an issue by letter of the rules. Lippy had not raced in over 30 days, and so his weight should have been of no consequence. But it was to these guys. They smelled a rat.
I was informed that Lippy would not be allowed to school that evening, and that he must be “re-Bertillioned” before he would be allowed to do so. I had no earthly idea what difference this would make, but I held my temper, and went along with the silliness. The last thing I wanted to do was to throw a tantrum at the weigh in with Lippy on lead—he’d be fretting enough in the ginny pit waiting to race, no need to have him associate weighing in with my impotent ranting and loss of composure. So we went through the process later on in the week, where a new Bertillion card was drawn up by the judge. It noted his color, markings and ear tatoos once again, just as the original had, and as if that had changed anything, the new and heavier Lippy would now be allowed to race.
I don’t recall how Lippy did the night he first schooled officially. But I do recall that he became one of the top greyhounds at the small venue, mainly used to break in puppies, called Green Mountain Park. He was a tad short, but he was a lightning bolt out of the box. He could take the turn from all but the 2 or 3 best dogs on the grounds. He was, to put it mildly, a revelation. He taught me more than I could have ever learned on my own, and something that was indelible.
Because I had accepted and shown him some love and patience, even with all his quirks and flaws, he had gifted me with his great and boundless heart. He laid it on the rail every time he ran. There was never a question that if your pup drew in with Lippy, he was in for the ride of his young life trying to catch him. Lippy never gave in, and if you beat him, you were someone to be reckoned with.
Lippy never stopped his fretting. He just couldn’t help being who he was, grievous angel.
Diana, Chasseresse by Jules Joseph Lefebvre
As the meet at Green Mountain wore on, and as the lush, heavy husk of summer became the vivid explosion of brilliant and then melancholy autumn, I began to make preparations for my next move and job. It was about this time that Lippy came off a bit lame one day after winning his 12th grade A race. No, it wasn’t the major leagues, but 12 grade A wins anywhere usually means you can run. Lippy could damn well run. But he wouldn’t be running for a while. He’d torn a slight hole right in the center of one of his clavicle muscles, a very rare injury, and it would require some care and rehab. He was done for the meet.
It dawned on me that I had no idea where Lippy would go after the track closed for the season. I
couldn’t risk his winding up with anyone who couldn’t deal with his odd and disruptive behavior. I made numerous inquiries of Lippy’s listed owner as to what was to be in his future, and received no reply. I asked the track to intercede. Again, there was no reply. It seemed as if no one wanted or owned Lippy. So I decided I did.
His incessant whining was an anathema to any kennel’s tranquility. I knew that. Lippy was over the top. He wasn’t a pup with a big upside. He was a 36 month-old with an injury that would require time and rehab, and an uncontrollable habit that would test the patience of Job.
So there we were, Lippy fretting away, and me in my autumnal reverie, two lost souls. And then she came to me, in a vision, like Diana, Goddess of the Hunt. She was dressed in a long white gown tied at the waist and slung across one shoulder, with a quiver of arrows on the other, her bow and her graceful, brindle greyhound in hand, two fat hares hanging from her sash. I loved her at once, but how could this be? The face, it was simply too beautiful, the eyes, too all aflame—and I recognized those eyes—why of course!
It was Donna, the deaf girl.
Copyright, 2013 by Dennis McKeon

Thursday, June 18, 2015

"Rescue"... What is it?


It's one little word that means a lot of different things to a lot of different people.  It is a word that has been used to inflect hurt upon people; it is a word that has been used to describe the process of rehoming animals.  It is a word that generates images of pathetic, abused animals, which then generate hundreds of thousands of dollars in revenue for some group such as HSUS.  It is a word that has been properly used to describe animals taken out of horrific & shocking conditions.  One little word....  so many meanings.

In greyhounds, the word "rescue" was introduced to the lexicon to wound people, to hurt and destroy them, to dehumanize them, to place the greyhound racing community in as bad of a light as possible.  The word emerged from "breed rescues" such as Borzoi rescue, which is where abandoned and unwanted Borzoi were taken in and sheltered.

Grey2K Likes Crates at Home...  Crates are Good
Typical Home Crate is 31W x 48L x 34H
The word's connotation is something else. Most people who use it do so simply because it has become part of the general vocabulary. Racing people began the adoption model to "rescue" greyhounds from an older, agrarian culture which saw no reason to keep an animal that had outlived its usefulness, who saw no immorality in humane euthanasia, and did not perceive greyhounds as being necessarily "pets"---and to "rescue" them from the early animal rights zealots (ARZs) who, as John Hoyt of the HSUS said, preferred humane euthanasia to the "warehousing" of retired greyhounds. Early ARZs had portrayed the greyhound as vicious, bloodthirsty and trained to kill, during the great jackrabbit advocacy movement, which had a massive impact on generating a false public perception of the breed, and set racing's attempt at comprehensive adoption back by about a decade.

The people who use the word to harm and injure, and to sustain a negative stereotype, are like those who continually refer to our President using his middle name with emphasis purely to create the same negative effect. The majority of people are tragically misinformed about greyhounds. In today's racing/adoption model, there is no coercion. People willingly give their greyhounds to adoption groups who willingly see to their rehoming. No one forces anything upon anyone. Yet, when people use the term "rescue" it gives the impression that the racing industry had has been bad to them. However, there is a BIG difference between a dog that came off of a track to a dog wandering the streets.... No comparison at all.

Grey2K Calls Crates at Track "Abuse"
What's the difference? Track Crates are 36W x 48L x 36H
The "rescue" terminology, as it applies to racing greyhounds, is the bludgeon of the demagogue. It is used with malicious intent. It is a slur, a slur applied with a very broad brush, on those who do the right thing to the best of their ability. It is a slap in the face to the greatest majority of decent, hard-working, and dedicated folks who go without so their dogs are given every chance at full life before, during and after racing.

For years now, there is a group of money hungry lobbyists in the US that are trying to do away with dog racing. That group is Grey2K.  They started out here in the USA and now they have started working on Australia and the UK. While there are extremists everywhere, this particular group believe greyhounds are forced to race and racing them is cruelty. They prefer that the dogs be allowed to get fat and do nothing. To them, that meager existence is kindness. Grey2K excels at presenting the dogs, fit & trim, happy dogs in the prime of life, as abused and in danger of an imminent death that requires the dog be rescued.

They imply that the racing folks don't care and that they are only in it to "make a buck off the backs of the dogs".  They are propagandists and use their misinformation to pull on the heart strings of potential new income sources, enabling a kind of weird higher purpose for those donating. Personally, I get pretty darn pissed off about the whole thing.  All those wasted dollars would be better served going to actual adoption groups and/or local shelters. 

Words matter.  Words can hurt.  Try to keep that in mind when you generalize.

Yours in greyhounds...

Monday, June 15, 2015

Charities & Others Affected by Animal Rights / Anti-Racing Extremists...

In earlier posts, I have commented on several tax-exempt organizations that call themselves charity, but aren't. Charity means, according to the Webster-Merriam dictionary,
  1. benevolent goodwill toward or love of humanity
  2. generosity and helpfulness especially toward the needy or suffering;   
  3. aid given to those in need
  4. an institution engaged in relief of the poor
  5. public provision for the relief of the needy
  6. a gift for public benevolent purposes
  7. an institution (as a hospital) founded by such a gift
  8. lenient judgment of others
2014 Note from Randall Cannon, DVM 
I truly do not see where such a description applies to Grey2K USA, HSUS, Animal Rights for Florida (ARFF), and Take Your Blinders Off (TYBO).  None of them show goodwill toward & love of humanity. None of them are generous & helpful towards those in need, animal or man. And none of them give aid & relief.  If anything, they are the antithesis of a charity: coldhearted, merciless, and vindictive. They are a viral malignancy on mankind that's posing as a benign growth.

Some associated with these groups are downright bigoted and, probably, somewhat racist. There are references from a former Grey2K director referring to a racing kennel as "Auschwitz". That same director, Karen Zoldan, also commented that "middle class, educated white people do not go to bet on the dogs" and made a reference to "wet dreams" regarding the Skecher's commercial with Mr. Quiggly.

Take Your Blinders Off founder & president, Randall Cannon DVM, seems to have a thing for people of color. He makes numerous references to slavery, slave world, etc.  Tell me, would you want him for your vet? I wouldn't.

Below, you will find a partial listing of charities affected by "activists", the descriptor the radical zealots prefer and that which the media are fond of calling them. That these extremists are willing to attack children's charities speaks volumes about their general lack of ethics & mores. How can anyone attack innocent children.  Click on the link in the name for the news story or more info.

Rockinghorse - forced to cancel an event to raise monies for pediatric cardiac monitors at a greyhound track due to threats from Greyt Exploitations & Grey2K minions. Activists sent a series of aggressive messages to the charity’s staff on social media – including making a vile joke about going to the hospital “to bet" on the children. Several other supporters “liked” the comment.

Greyhound Adoption Group (various) - Lyman High School, which has a Greyhound for its mascot, held "human vs Greyhound" races to benefit Greyhound adoption groups. The event, when it was held, raised several thousand dollars that provided direct care for the dogs. After fielding many hundreds of complaints from Animal Rights Florida (ARFF) and Grey2K, the school cancelled the very popular event, taking THOUSANDS of dollars away from the charities that serve the dogs.

Ronald McDonald House - A greyhound adopter has a greyhound therapy dog. She talked to RMHC and put together a presentation where a racer would run for a local RMHC charity and all earnings would be donated to the kids. When Grey2K found out, the Houses which were interested all received letters from Grey2K that pretty much spelled out litigation, negative press, bully tactics that would be used on RMHC sponsors.

Lions Club, Boise Idaho - Greyhound Rescue of Idaho, a group endorsed by Grey2K USA, sent a "cease & desist" letter to the Boise Host Lions Club concerning the group's 2nd Annual Wiener Dog Races set for May 30 in Boise. There were monetary prizes offered, but the greatest bulk of the "entry fees" went to benefit the Lions Sight & Hearing Foundation, the Idaho Eye Bank, Camp Hodia, and Julia Davis Window the the River Project. All worthy charities helping others. The Host Lions Club was forced to cancel the event.

On the other hand, Race for Adoption, which is a consortium of racing folks who donate all the winnings of specific greyhounds to greyhound placement groups. Race for Adoption has raised more than $150,000 for their groups! This is the true meaning of charity and benevolent goodwill.


Greyhound racing folks have raised more than £9,000 for the Rockinghorse Charity (above). Members of the greyhound racing industry raised the monies following the charity being victim to a campaign of abuse on social media by anti-racing, animal rights group, Greyt Exploitations. They have now more than double what they were expecting after members of the greyhound racing industry put out an appeal.  People from all over the greyhound racing world were appalled that the charity had to cancel its event and donations were received from Australia, USA, and Ireland.


Sunday, June 14, 2015

Florida Decoupling Fails Again

I tried to get this post out back in April 2015 but just could not wrap my head around it. As with other people, life just got in the way.  Better late than never...

Congratulations from the authors of this blog to the Florida Racing Greyhound community on, yet again, stopping Grey2K, the ASPCA, and HSUS in their efforts to hobble greyhound racing in this state. Good work guys!

"Congratulations to the Florida Greyhound Racing Community, the Florida Greyhound Association, Jack Cory, and the many trainers and owners who worked hard at their jobs and at outreach, and whose livelihoods and families are safe for one more year. Thanks to all my friends who read along and whether by word of mouth or word of telephone, or by word of keypad in social media, helped to state the case of the thousands of Greyhounds, who would be in some peril, had the anti racing flim-flam artists, the casino corporateers, and their political hacks and cronies been given their way. Regards to the senators and reps who held their ground and sided with the working people and the Greyhounds of Florida.

Sadly, the Greyhound Safety Act did not pass, largely because Grey2k and the rest of the phony advocacy and "protection groups" refused to actively support it. Remember that the next time you are asked to donate your hard earned money to one of these hateful, destructive and self-interested scam operations."
Dennis McKeon - April 2015

"The Greyhound Safety Act was a bill that required few changes to help ensure & enhance the safety of racing greyhounds on the tracks in Florida.  The bill required that the electric rail on which the lure runs be insulated to prevent accidental electrocution should a greyhound attempt to jump the rail into the infield. 


As Mr. McKeon states,  this bill was not supported by those purporting to be greyhound lovers. In fact, they actively opposed it.  
We need to hammer home that Grey2K was against The Safety Act, therefore any greyhound that dies on the track, its blood is on Grey2K's hands."
Bruce Walters - April 2015


"Once again, the crucial question has yet to be asked or answered. If indeed too many greyhounds are being injured and suffering fatalities on FL racetracks, whose fault is that? Who prepares and maintains the racetracks' surface and the related electronic equipment? For those who are unaware, that is the responsibility of the racetracks themselves. Why are Grey2k and their their franchisers at the ASPCA not throwing the full weight of their support behind the Smith Greyhound Safety Act, which is specifically designed to address those very issues, and to prevent many of those very same injuries, from which they supposedly wish to "protect" the greyhounds?"
Dennis McKeon - April 2015

Congratulations to the people, who worked hard to get the Florida Decoupling bill defeated. 

Boos & hisses to Grey2K, HSUS, and the ASPCA who actively lobbied to defeat the Greyhound Safety Act, which would have mandated that:

  1. The track owners maintain racing surfaces to an industry standard to prevent injuries & death;
  2. The electric rail be modified to prevent accidental electrocution of both man & dog;
  3. Would prohibit anyone convicted of a felony for animal cruelty, child abuse, aggravated assault or battery from obtaining a license or permit from the Division of Parimutuel Wagering;
  4. A safety device to remove lures from the racing surface be installed; and
  5. The legislation required that tracks report all injures to greyhound race dogs that occur at the tracks.

Sensible measures to ensure the safety of the dogs. Sensible measures that were lobbied against for a bill that only mandated injury reporting.

Ask yourself, why have Grey2K and other so called "protection and welfare" organizations not supported these sensible changes that would protect the dogs?

Yours in Greyhounds...

Friday, June 12, 2015

ARFF (Animal Rights for Florida).... a Bunch of Junkyard Dawgs

Rabid Dog from To Kill A Mockingbird
Junkyard dogs...

The words evoke images of large dogs like Rottweilers or Pit Bulls, frothing at the mouth, snarling & snapping at those who would trespass into their territory...  a junk yard. Well, animal rights extremists, pretty much fit that description. The first time I met one up close & personal, I gained the understanding of the word, apoplectic, and he truly was foaming at the mouth, spittle flying everywhere in his hatred. He reminded me of a rabid dog.

Then, there was the movie, Junkyard Dog, which is a gritty psychological, horror movie that delves the demented mind of a murdering serial rapist, who engages in the cannibalsim of his victims. The movie is supposed to be based on actual events. The madman in the movie is oddly charismatic, yet vicious in his attacks.

For better or worse, right or wrong, the phrase "junkyard dog" has come to signify the bad, the ugly, and the dangerous in our society. And, in this writer's honest opinion, Animal Rights Foundation of Florida (ARFF) pretty much fulfills that description.

I'm guessing dear reader you are wondering why.

Well, for one, there is their modus operandi.  They harass, browbeat, antagonize, and attempt to coerce & intimidate those who have a different philosophy than they. They do this with protests, which are conducted in ways similar to the Westboro Baptist Church protests. They are way less than tolerant of any and slander those who humanely employ animals in any way. And, like Grey2K, they employ lies, propaganda, and misinformation to support their political agenda, which includes pushing everyone to a vegan diet.

ARFF (how funny that their acronym sounds like a junkyard dog barking) supports the banning of the following activities (partial list):
  • hunting 
  • fishing
  • farming & ranching
  • any & all animal in entertainment (zoos, bio parks, aquariums, racing venues, and circuses)
  • any & all breeding of domestic animals
ARFF believes that there should be no dairies as "Cows milk is for calves, not humans".  ARFF tells people on their webpage, "The best way to help end the suffering of cows in the dairy industry is to eliminate dairy and all animal products from your diet."

ARFF believes that people should not eat eggs and they say so on their webpage, "Don't buy eggs. Adopting a vegan diet, one free of animal products, is the most important thing you can do to stop the suffering of chickens."

ARFF believes that all animal agriculture should be done away with. They especially have it in for pigs & pig farms. "Farms not only abuse animals, they are notoriously bad for the environment. Typical pig farms use an astounding amount of water and produce tons of manure every day. Too often, waste from pig farms leaks into rivers and streams, killing fish and contaminating drinking water. Pig farms also foul the air."

Where the domestic animals to go?  What's to become of them?  If they are not bred, the breeds & species will become extinct.  But, I guess that's OK by ARFF.  After all, those animals are not a part of Florida's wildlife.  Contrary to proven wildlife management principles, ARFF wants to "protect" invasive species, as they are now part of Florida's wildlife, even if those species wipe out the native flora & fauna!  "We need to learn to coexist with all wildlife" including coyotes, armadillos (reservoirs for leprosy), and feral hogs. I'm assuming that they also oppose the capture other invasive, non-native species such as Burmese pythons and Nile Monitor lizards.  (LISTING of non-native reptilian species currently found in FL)

With regards to greyhound racing, ARFF really goes over the top with the lies.  For instance,

Quote from ARFF, Campaigns, Greyhound Racing page
Numerous people have requested backup documentation, a source for their statement that "thousands are killed".  None has been forthcoming.  There is nothing that can provide supporting documentation because about 95% of greyhounds go into pet homes upon retirement. Others are reserved for breeding and continuing the greyhound breed.
Another lie from them,
Quote from ARFF, Campaigns, Greyhound Racing page
For the past several years, fewer than 12,000 greyhounds have been whelped on an annual basis. That number includes stillborn puppies and those that die as neonates. The last year there were 25,000 pups whelped was in 2005 - 10 years past.  Here are accurate numbers taken from the NGA's whelping report.  Numbers are not yet available for 2014 but there is no reason to expect a sudden increase to >12,000, especially since as of Aug 2014, there were 7,265 reported births. 
                  Year              Number                 Born
2013 10,657
2012 10,157
2011 11,759
2010 12,801

Dogs, in general, have a whelping mortality rate of about 20%, which means 1 in 5 puppies die before they are 5 wks old.

Another lie spread by ARFF is

ARFF Webpage, Campaigns, Greyhound Racing
Anyone who owns a greyhound of any kind can testify that the dogs, in general, spend 18 - 20 hrs a day sleeping. Doesn't matter.  As for the size of the crates, they are much larger than anything available on the pet market.  The crates in the racing kennels measure 48" x 48" x 48", more than roomy enough for the dogs to stand, stretch, and lay flat. Definitely not "cramped".

 Human contact...  Dogs are handled daily. They're rubbed down, inspected for injuries, petted, kissed, and loved upon in general.  A most egregious misstatement of fact.  Just look at the pictures. Happy hounds are not made happy by neglect or abuse.

 ARFF negotiates in bad faith. At the Sanford Orlando Kennel Club (SOKC), racing folks that are fed up with being portrayed as abusive, greedy people. As a result, they have been staging counter-protests at the same time as ARFF has been holding their anti-racing ones. Prior to their most recent protest on June 6, ARFF complained to the Longwood Police Dept about the SOKC counter protests. The LPD requested that the racing folks stay on the other side of the street from the ARFF protesters. Just like Grey2K...  trying to stifle the truth! Anyway, at the protest, ARFF teamed up with another extremist organization, Take Your Blinders Off (TYBO), which was founded by a veterinarian and makes both ARFF & Grey2K look somewhat reasonable. Yeah...  scary isn't it.

TYBO's main man bills himself as Randall "Vegan" Cannon.  He bought a Toyota Tundra and installed a digital billboard in the bed on which he uploads a slide show. It changes according to the venue.  It could be farms scenes; orcas & dolphins, greyhounds...

 This man is nuts. I cannot say anything about his clinic, the Fairbanks Animal Hospital in Winter Park, FL. I have never been there and I'm never going to go there for a couple of reasons: 1) this man is over the top and 2) by his own admission, he has "never seen an orthopedic injury" that a greyhound got in their backyard" or one with "heat stroke". Makes me wonder how much knowledge about sighthounds in general he actually has.  He certainly is blinded by his hatred of greyhound racing & greyhound people.

The extremists found in these two groups are nasty little people. They cannot see beyond their own agenda. They don't care who or what they hurt to accomplish that agenda. They would rather see the animals dead & extinct, than have a job.

The war against the extremists has only just begun.  It's going to get worse before it gets better.

Yours in greyhounds

Sunday, June 7, 2015

Lies, Lies, Everywhere Are Lies...

The other day, another Saving Greys blog post made its appearance. Again, as usual, the post is really stretching to present greyhound racing and the people in it in a bad light. It is loaded with lies of omission and phrases taken & presented out of context. It amazes me that very few question these fanatics who are associated with domestic terrorists. They really need to be held accountable.

Several weeks back, racing folks learned that "the Dorchak family" was getting a greyhound to replace the deceased Zoe. Since we pity the poor dog for going into such a hateful environment (greyhounds are sensitive to the emotions surrounding them), there was a great deal of curiosity and concern expressed for the hound. The main topic of curiosity surrounded who would give them a hound. It was narrowed down to one of two people: Louise Coleman in Massachusetts or David Wolf in Pennsylvania. Both Coleman & Wolf have bad reps among racing folks. Coleman has a reputation for killing inconvenient hounds, hounds that have been too long in the adoption kennel (Greyhound Friends of Hopkington... Louise Coleman), whereas David Wolf has a very bad reputation among greyhound folk for his bizarre ways, such as, pulling teeth out of dogs and putting all greyhounds on thyroxine, both medical procedures performed without cause. There's good cause for the racing folks to be concerned about any dog going there!

So, evidently a Trojan was surveying the FaceBook group, Grey2K Lies, as some of the featured comments in Carey's festival of misquotes came from there.  For instance, Carey said
"Predictably, greyhound breeders responded to this happy event with bitterness and hostility. As soon as it was publicly announced that we had adopted her, several dog track promoters began trying to figure out what Gina's racing name was, so they could attempt to remove her. According to greyhound trainer Chris Grieb, "I've been relentlessly searching for possibilities on her identity. I'll worry about what to do with that information once it's obtained.""
How the conversation actually went...
"Beck:  Even if we do get proof that this is all a lie? It appears that no one in the media is interested in investigating this bunch of charlatans. We can put it on Grey2k Lies, but only a small group of people will see it. We can share it, but most of our Facebook friends already know they lie. We can't comment on their Facebook page or website because they delete everything that might cause their minions to doubt them. I don't want to be a negative person, but without widespread dissemination of the truth how are we doing anything, but beating our heads against a wall.
Grieb:  Then don't worry yourself with it all then, Beck. I'm NOT giving up finding who this dog is, who she was bred/owned by, and how she wound up at NGAP.
Beck:  Grieb I'm not saying give up finding out who the dog is, I'm just saying if we do find out how do we get the word out.
Grieb:  I don't know Beck - but, in between postings here and there, I've been relentlessly searching for possibilities on her identity. I'll worry about what to do with that information once it's obtained."
Does anyone see anything here about stealing the dog?  No.

What one does see are a couple of people trying to find out what the dog's racing name is so they can find out how she wound up at NGAP with David Wolf.  Big difference, eh?  A big LIE OF OMISSION.

By the way, because of this egregious LIE OF OMISSION, one of the Grey2K acolytes is offering "to hangout" with Carey & Gina to protect them with "Mr. Glock".  Those are some peace loving folks.

Comments on Grey2K's FB Page re: Gina

Another twisted piece of verbiage from Carey is his implying that the racing folks "should forcibly abduct Gina."  Tsk... tsk... tsk..

Again, taking something and using it totally out of context. I swear one MUST question everything these jokers say & do.
D'Arcy:  Tara, we nominate you to go in disguise to an event and give Gina a hug and ear scratch (AND check her tattoos smile emoticon smile emoticon )
Grieb: Take one for the team! I swear to all that is Holy, if I lived up there I'd be all over it.  
Tara:  I will be like Ace Venture pet detective. smile emoticon Help me find something within a reasonable area and I'm there!
Beverly Stahlgren Schrecongost: Tara and then grab her and run like hell!!!!!  
Tara: Haaaaaa!!!!! Only if I can get Matt to drive the get away car!!!!
Does anyone see a threat by the racing people to "forcibly abduct" the dog?  I see people joking around.  Context... Context... Context...   Please remember Mr. Sussman is out there with his Glock, ready & waiting.  One hopes that he won't do anything stupid because of the hate mongering of Grey2K.  It is possible, after all.

The most egregious lies of all, however, are those that Grey2K continues to spread like manure about the good folks in greyhound racing. Those lies claim

  • that greyhound racing people are cruel & uncaring
  • that greyhound racing people are heartless
  • that greyhound racing people are only in it for the money 
  • that greyhound racing people do not provide a good, healthy diet for the dogs
  • that greyhound racing is institutionalized cruelty
  • that thousands of healthy dogs are killed
  • that thousands of puppies are killed before their first birthday
  • that greyhounds, athletes in peak physical condition, are crated for 22+ hours a day
  • and many, many, many more lies.
Think about it.  If you don't like racing, that's fine.  No one is forcing you to like it.  BUT, and that's a big but, do not base your dislike and hatred on a bunch of lies.  Find the truth and then make your decision.



Yours in Greyhounds...

Friday, June 5, 2015

Curiosity Killed the Cat...

There's an old saying, "Curiosity killed the cat, but satisfaction brought it."  I've always been a curious person, wanting to know how things work and why, and I've always been satisfied with what I've discovered, bringing my curiosity about things back.  I've been told that curiosity is a sign of great intelligence.  That all great thinkers are curious. None of them accept anything at face value.

Well for some reason, my curiosity got the best of me the other day and I went on a search to find out where Zoe, the greyhound supposedly owned by Carey Thiel and Christine Dorchak (Grey2K USA's President &Treasurer, and Vice President), was licensed.  Yeah...  I went looking for her dog license. Why?  I don't know...  just did.  Records for the town of Somerville, MA were examined...  nothing.  Records for the town of Arlington, MA were examined...  nothing.  No matter which town's licensing data I examined, I could not find anything showing that a greyhound bitch named Zoe was licensed to either a Carey Thiel or a Christine Dorchak!

List of 2014 Greyhound Dog Licenses Issued in Arlington, MA
So, this breeds another question (no pun intended), did the Dorchak family own Zoe or was she actually one of the dogs above?  If not one of the above, then why didn't she have a dog license in the town where she lived?

Is the lack of a dog license indicative of a general lack of ethics on the part of Dorchak & Thiel.  Is this a case of don't do as I do, do as I say?  Curiouser & curiouser...  So many questions! Time for some more digging...  gotta satisfy my curiosity.

Yours in greyhounds....

Thursday, June 4, 2015

Grey2K: Has Motive Overcome Ethics?

By Dick Ciampa


Grey2K has always been entirely one-sided in its campaign against greyhound racing. However, in the last couple of years, the organization has shown a disturbing tendency to move beyond its usual self-serving “advocacy”.

In 2011, an owner of racing (and retired) greyhounds wanted to help Ronald McDonald House. The plan was to donate all earnings from several of their racing hounds. In addition, once retired, the hounds would join another in the household in becoming therapy dogs for children with cancer, thereby helping very sick children and, in a low key manner, promoting adoption.

Ronald McDonald House provides accommodation for families near the hospital where their child is being treated for cancer. It is a compassionate, humane charity, and it is hard to imagine anyone not wanting to support it. Except, apparently, Grey2K.

When Grey2K found out about the plan, they persuaded (some might say bullied) Ronald McDonald House to decline the offer.  Nice job Grey2K, why help the parents of children with cancer?

That same year, in Australia, “Go the Pink Dog” raised over $120,000 for the McGrath Foundation, which funds specialized breast care nurses for women fighting breast cancer, as well as programs to raise prevention awareness among young women.

Go the Pink Dog to Benefit The McGrath Foundation
“Go the Pink Dog” is a racing industry program that was started in 2010, and runs for one month each year. During that month, one greyhound in each race wears a pink vest. If that hound wins their race, $500 is donated to the McGrath Foundation.

In 2011 representatives from the McGrath Foundation declined to appear to accept their very generous check after receiving untold numbers of letters and e-mails, mainly from supporters of “a well-known US-based anti-racing lobby group”, whose name is familiar to many, and even death threats from similar local opponents.  Who would imagine standing tall and proud in opposition to helping women fighting breast cancer?

More recently, on April 30, 2013, Grey2K leaders posted a request on their Facebook page, asking a UK hospital not to accept money from greyhound racing.  This was in response to an event planned for Saturday, May 11, to raise money for The Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital Charity. In addition, 10% of the money raised would go to The Retired Greyhound Trust. Grey2K is not only attempting to subvert a fundraiser for the children’s hospital, but also to deprive greyhound adoption of 10% of the money.

Looking at the big picture, Grey2K has lobbied against raising money for the Ronald McDonald House, The McGrath Foundation, and now, The Great Ormond Children’s Hospital Charity and The Retired Greyhound Trust.

Every Grey2K supporter should take a step back and ask themselves whether, in good conscience, they support these tactics, and by extension, the organization behind them.  How does depriving charities of needed funding contribute to the greater good?  Observers can be forgiven if the term “mean-spirited” comes to mind.

Grey2K it seems, is willing, regardless of whom may be hurt, to suppress any positive aspect of greyhound racing.  

What is Grey2K afraid of?

Apparently, the truth: which is that, like everything else, greyhound racing is a spectrum, much of it good, some of it bad. But that doesn’t play as well, or bring in donations as successfully, as the “all bad” image Grey2K chooses to present, no matter who is innocently hurt in the process

Tuesday, May 19, 2015

Grey2K, Carey Theil Help Prove Cocaine Problems Very Low in Greyhound Racing

By Dick Ciampa

Grey2K's Executive Director and co-founder Carey Theil helps prove how rare cocaine is in greyhound racing. Today, Grey2K and Carey Theil announced that they discovered 4 more cases of a greyhound testing positive for cocaine.

GREY2K USA on NPR: four more cases of greyhounds testing cocaine positive in Florida, legislature needs to phase out dog racing now (23-28 minute marks).
http://news.wfsu.org/post/capital-report-04-02-2015

We know from Grey2K's 80 page report released earlier this year that there were 16 cases of cocaine found in greyhounds during the 7-year period of January 2008 to the end of November 2014.

So in 7 years and 3 months, we have a total of 20 greyhounds that tested positive for cocaine.

Here are the drug test results from Florida for fiscal year 2008/2009. Benzoylecgonine is cocaine.


Here are the drug test results for Florida for fiscal year 2009/2010



You can see the number of samples analyzed in 2008/2009 were 54,942 and in 2010 the number of samples analyzed were 58,095. The other years weren't available online so I will estimate the number of samples analyzed real low at 40,000 per year for the remaining 5 years for a total of 200,000 for those 5 years. If you add the 200,000 to the 58,095 from 2010 and 54,942 from 2009 and you have a total of 313,037 samples analyzed for those 7 years. That was the time frame Grey2K had 16 cocaine positives for not only Florida, but Alabama also. Now for part of that time Alabama had three tracks running, Victoryland, Birmingham and Mobile. During 2011 Victoryland closed and only the other two tracks were running. We still have to add the first 3 months of 2015 so if we again go with a low number of 40,000 for the year we would add 10,000 for 1/4 of the year 2015 bringing the total number of samples analyzed for the 7 years and 3 months to 323,037.

Now with 20 positives out of 323,037 samples analyzed that give you a percentage of greyhounds testing positive at 0.00619.

The percentage of greyhounds testing positive for cocaine isn't extreme, Grey2K is.

Robert F. Kennedy once said this about extremists,
"What is objectionable, what is dangerous about extremists is not that they are extreme, but that they are intolerant. The evil is not what they say about their cause, but what they say about their opponents."




Sunday, May 17, 2015

From AR to PR

By Jessica Frank


The first time I really remember being smitten by a greyhound, it was actually a statue. When I was young, I used to watch Wheel of Fortune with my mom and my grandma. If you watched the old original Wheel of Fortune shows, you may remember the little shopping bit people did after each round, in which they took the "money" they won and shopped from a selection of things that were offered by the show. One of those things was a white greyhound statue. No one ever bought it that I recall, but my eyes went to it every time, the graceful neck, the willowy limbs, the fine slender head. Of all the fancy furniture, electronics and vacation trips, I knew what I would have bought if I had won a round on that show - it would have been that statue. Later, when my mom took me to local dog shows, I would gravitate over to those beautiful, stately sighthounds. They captured my fascination and that never died.

Like many people, what I saw about racing was never positive. I saw pictures of starved and abused dogs, heard stories about dogs beaten or put to death in various cruel ways if they didn't win, and it was burned into my brain that dog racing was a horrible thing full of death and cruelty for the dogs. That's why, many years later, when I was part of a big pet online forum and someone asked "Would you go to a dog race?" I answered I would NEVER go to one, I would never support that cruelty. Almost everyone else echoed similar sentiments.


But then someone new came along, an outsider, and he began telling a completely different kind of story, one I had never heard before. Owners and trainers were dedicated to their dogs. The dogs were given the best of the best, and when they retired they certainly were not discarded or killed. I was resistant to that at first. I began pointing out websites, statistics, photos. And very quickly and neatly he pointed out these were outright lies, how laughable the statistics were. He explained how those places had an agenda and it wasn't to save dogs. He then showed me links of his own that told the truth, the REAL statistics. I became more quiet and thoughtful. I watched him patiently continue to address other people's accusations and racing. It doesn't seem like one person, who I did not even know personally, could change a belief that was fed and nurtured for years by TV, the Internet, photos and various other media, but I couldn't deny one thing: What he said just made sense. I had learned long ago about PeTA and HSUS. It wasn't so hard for me to see how AR organizations could be just as fanatical and misleading.

My first feeling was one of relief. I was relieved that those atrocities I thought were happening were mostly fantasy. And then I felt somewhat humiliated. I had bitten the bait they put out; hook, line and sinker. I had believed it for years without ever hearing the other side of the story. And then I felt angry. I had been lied to and used to spread hate and false information. It's something I would be careful not to repeat, from that day forward, about ANY issue. It literally was a life-changing day for me.

From then on, I sought out more information. I found the Grey Talk board and read and browsed everything I could find about greyhounds. This was actually several years before I would adopt my first hound. While I had wanted to for a long time, I either already had a full house or didn't have the choice at the time. In late January 2013, I would finally get my own hound, and I was determined that everyone I would meet would not see this hound as a helpless victim, but a proud dog with a proud history and meticulous upbringing by many people.

I just want to say a special thanks, in closing, to Christopher Grieb. Thank you for going to that angry hornet's nest of a pet forum those years ago and writing page upon page of insightful, truthful posts. I bet you didn't know you'd change somebody's life that day

Tuesday, May 5, 2015

Tough Questions….No Answers


By Dennis McKeon


Those of you who believe that you are somehow more humane and morally superior to the people in the Greyhound Racing community, have a lot to learn about populations of dogs, and managing them. Each and every individual Greyhound for whom you profess to care so much, has emerged from a unique population of Greyhounds.

Everything you love or may not love about those dogs, is inexorably linked by cause and effect, and by the highly selective process which racing demands that breeders employ, to the well being of that greater population of Greyhounds.

The idea that the cessation of racing and breeding for racing, would not devastate your Greyhound population and all future populations of them, resulting in the loss, forever, of unique and irreplaceable strains and entire families of Greyhounds-- some of whose lineage can be documented as far back as the 18th century--is short-sighted, to say the very least, and hardly more humane than whatever it is you find to be so distasteful about racing itself.

The inconsolable. "ban everything I don't like" activist, who has no capacity or desire to engage in constructive (not destructive) behavior, or to participate in the cultural and material evolution of racing, is essentially promoting "advocacy by extinction", which is not now, nor will it ever be, a humane concept.

Why is there a such gaping disconnect between the individual Greyhound and the population of Greyhounds, from which every individual Greyhound has emerged?

How does one suppose to be any sort of an advocate, and how do you claim the moral high ground, until you mend that disconnect?

These dogs don't suddenly appear from Unicorn dust. They are a result of thousands of years of breeding, and in modern times, dozens of female families and generations of having been bred to race---for nearly a century now. They are the embodiment of all that, the good, the bad, and the faulty.

The Racing Greyhound today, is possibly the most fowardly adapted canine in the world, to its present function. That didn't happen by serendipity. It is the result of a design, a process, a model, where there are inputs (breeding, raising, training, handling) and feedbacks (the results of head to head racing competitions and how they are perceived to enable accurate selectivity) that forged the modern, Racing Greyhound, and which support the population of Greyhounds.

You can't have a thriving, genetically diverse, and highly functional Greyhound, without having a thriving, genetically diverse, highly functional population of them. The Greyhound is a manifestation of his/her genetic wellsprings and their effect upon phenotype, temperament, disposition and function.

Unless you have a better design or method in mind, to support, manage and preserve that Greyhound population--in all its diversity and functionality--your advocacy is simply, when it's all said and done, for the margination of a breed, and nothing more. And by any rational, humane standard, you aren't an advocate at all.

So what are the anti-racing communities' plans---book, chapter and verse---for the future of the Greyhound, and future populations of them, to insure an array of genetic diversity and to maintain the high levels of functionality and stalwart disposition for which the breed is renown and embraced, once racing has been forcibly ceased?

Or will it be every dog for himself, "see ya, wouldn't wanna be ya", and your job is done?

Copyright, 2015

Friday, April 17, 2015

When Greyhound Protection is . . . Not

By Dick Ciampa


There are currently two pieces of legislation before the Florida legislature. One, introduced by Sen. Sobel called the Vicky Q. Gaetz Greyhound Protection Act, calls for racing greyhound injury reporting. The other, Smith Radar Greyhound Protection Bill, SB 262, HB 187, also calls for injury reporting, and in addition, requires a wide range of protective measures including more stringent BACKGROUND CHECKS for those working with the dogs, and a number of track safety measures aimed at preventing injuries.

Most people, if asked which legislation they would support, would say the choice is obvious, and would favor the more comprehensive bill. Why wouldn’t they? It will reduce the number of injuries with measures such as upgrading track surface maintenance procedures, INSTALLING a guard covering the live rail, installing a breakaway lure arm, as well as ensuring timely and detailed reporting when an injury occurs. Choosing the more comprehensive bill is simple common sense.

Those same people might therefore be more than a little surprised to find out that Grey2K, the self-proclaimed “largest greyhound protection group in the country”, is supporting the Gaetz bill.

When asked about the Smith Radar bill, Grey2K pays lip service to its content, and has even produced a note sent to Carey Thiel by Representative Radar, thanking him for his support. However, nowhere on the Grey2K website, on their Facebook page, or anywhere in the press that we have been able to find, does Grey2K communicate the benefits of the Smith Radar bill, or encourage their readership to support it. Instead, they strongly encourage support of the narrowly-focused Gaetz bill, which has no provision for preventing injuries. It appears that Representative Radar’s thank you was based on a misunderstanding of the Grey2K position.

Effectively, Grey2K is taking a stand against protecting greyhounds.

Why would they do that? There are several interesting answers, none of which has anything to do with greyhound welfare.

Carey Thiel, Executive Director of Grey2K is also on the board of Stop Predatory GAMBLING. If greyhound racing is brought to an end, so is a source of GAMBLING, in view of which, supporting a bill that enforces better conditions for greyhounds is counterproductive.

In addition, and ironically, several tracks have been very supportive of Grey2K in recent years, as they would like to back out of the agreement that requires live racing in order to offer other forms of gambling. If Grey2K endorses a bill that places responsibility upon these tracks to implement safety measures, it would certainly dampen their support. So faced with a choice between protecting greyhounds and protecting tactical relationships, Grey2K has turned away from the greyhounds they claim to work for.

Finally, and most importantly, consider that Grey2K and donation campaigns are almost synonymous. This very month of April, Greyhound Adoption Month, their Facebook page featured a warm and fuzzy piece about adoption, followed by a series of fundraising opportunities. One might reasonably expect the proceeds of those fundraisers would be explicitly earmarked for adoption, but no. All resulting DONATIONS go directly and silently into Grey2K coffers.

In the context of the Smith Radar Greyhound Protection Bill, the Grey2K math seems to say, if we genuinely protect racing greyhounds thereby reducing injuries, the cash streaming in will SLOW down. Conversely, if we defeat injury-preventing safety measures, effectively helping to increase the number of injuries, we are gaining a larger database to exploit for fundraising. And as for the tracks, once those relationships have served their purpose, they can be discarded.

Genuine greyhound protection is nowhere in this picture.

Copyright 2015

Thursday, April 16, 2015

HEARTS and MINDS


By Dennis McKeon


Social media has been a boon to those of us who are Racing Greyhound enthusiasts. That’s the case, whether we breed or own active racing dogs,whether we are adopters of retired Greyhound racing athletes, or even if we are only admirers of graceful, powerful and elegant creatures, who are as unique and endearing as they are mercurial and ethereal.
The willing exchange of information is voluminous, generous and instantly forthcoming, relating to all aspects of Greyhound antiquity, history, bloodline, temperament, disposition, care and maintenance--whether about their lives as racers, as breeders, and in the hundreds of thousands, as retired pets. Greyhounds now compete, in retirement, at agility, obedience, lure coursing, and amateur straight racing. More recently, they have been well-cast as therapy and service dogs. Truly, they are a remarkable and diverse breed, with an equally remarkable and diverse ownership base, within and outside of racing--one which transcends many of the identity group barriers that society and media seem to have ordained for us.
There is one, big rub, however. The controversies that have swirled around the Racing greyhound and the business of greyhound racing, for the past half-century and then some, remain infamous, unabated, and bitterly divisive.
Romeo & His Bunny
It used to upset me to the point of distraction, many years ago, to read the various newspaper reports of the era, which insisted that Greyhounds, who were often coursers of Midwestern Jackrabbits prior to embarking on their careers as track racers, were made bloodthirsty and vicious by engaging in this most elemental of their various functions--and that is why they needed to wear muzzles.
I would often read the morning paper while bolting down breakfast, or a reasonable facsimile thereof , sitting on the edge of a crate containing a sweet-natured, doe-eyed, ear-nuzzling female, who would be simultaneously looking over my shoulder--not at the newspaper--but at the donut bag on the grooming bench, knowing there had to be a treat somewhere in there for her. I wonder now, looking back on it, what she might have thought of such an egregious and unenlightened mischaracterization of her, and her brothers and sisters.
No matter. The people with the media bully pulpit, and who wouldn’t have known a Greyhound from Grey Poupon, won the war of words. If you wanted to call it a war, that is. As there was barely any response from those of us who worked our fingers to the bone and our feet to bloody stumps, seven days a week, with no time off for good behavior, caring for, waiting on, and doting over these magnificent but ever-needy, fellow pilgrims. Once in a while, one of the racing folks who had begun the then novel, formal process of adoption, would get a chance at some media exposure, to plead the case of an unfairly stigmatized breed, but the damage, for the most part, had been too deep and too grave. A breed’s reputation had been ruined to protect the pestilence of Jackrabbits.
Fast-forward to the present day, and not a lot has changed in that regard, in spite of the phenomenal popularity of the Racing Greyhound as a pet in retirement. Finally, triumphantly, he has been vindicated by a public, once so grievously misinformed. The pop narrative, nevertheless, is still being spun by those who know and understand the least about him, and who have no future vision for him, beyond the cushions of a sofa.
However, social media has allowed truly informed and Greyhound-knowledgeable people to at least get a word in edgewise, and to reach out to those who sincerely wish to know the truth about their Greyhound’s lives prior to retirement and adoption, and the existential realities of a meticulously bred population of canines, who still have a real purpose, and who are still a supremely functional breed.
Whether one approves of that purpose or not, should be immaterial to the polite and well-modulated dissemination of Greyhound related information or anecdotes, by Greyhound professionals, to the Greyhound’s public. I can’t stress this enough. Like you, I take extreme exception to having been stigmatized as a member of some sort of demented misery and death cult, due to my (former) professional association with greyhound racing as a trainer. Like you, I sometimes have to walk away from the laptop (or turn off the cell phone), when encountering ignorance so profound, that it almost burns the eyes to read the drone-like drivel and sometimes hateful spew.
No one said it would be easy. In that sense, it’s almost like training a litter of green, undisciplined, rowdy puppies, who reflexively go against the grain of every shred of structure and mannerly behavior into which you try to cajole them, and instill within them. As we well know, otherworldly patience is sometimes required.
The truth of the matter is, that social media has given the Greyhound professional the opportunity to undo 50 years of negative stereotypes, and Greyhound mythology. This entails, more than anything else, winning hearts and minds.
Knee-jerk and aggressive, angry responses to false clich├ęs and outrageous generalizations, that we have all heard and read thousands of times, are counter-productive to winning those hearts and minds. They only reinforce the negative stereotypes, and serve as a barrier to the dissemination of the truth, and to the Greyhound’s public reaping the benefit of your most valuable experience.
For every pot-stirrer who is convinced that by reading propaganda and mythology, they have no need to listen to anything you have to say, there are hundreds following along, who will judge your veracity and credibility by how you deal with that sort of provocation. You may be entirely justified in wanting to lash out at the sheer bigotry of it. But those innocent bystanders have not walked a mile in your shoes, and you may very well be the first person they have ever encountered who deviates from that popular and patently false narrative.
There is more at stake here than livelihoods, the security of families and careers. There is an entire population of Greyhounds to consider, and any future populations of them, which will be utterly devastated, should we fail to win enough of those hearts and minds.
Lecture over. Go hug a Greyhound.
copyright, 2015

Tuesday, April 14, 2015

The Truth About Injury Reporting

By Dennis McKeon


Let’s be clear about one thing. Any legislation that requires injury reporting without accountability, on its face, is an exercise in futility. The mere reporting of injuries without mandates to insure that all necessary steps are taken by those whose responsibility it is to provide as safe and hazard-free racing venue and surface as is humanly possible, isn't worth the paper it is written on.

The often reported fabrication that injuries have been magically reduced as a result of simply adopting an injury reporting program, is pure, unadulterated nonsense. Injury reporting alone, has no more effect upon reducing racing injuries to greyhounds than does the mere reporting of automobile accidents alone have in reducing injuries to drivers and passengers. There has to be accountability.

Moreover, if there were no injury reporting in a state, how is a comparison to be drawn once injury reporting has been employed? If there were no injury reports, where did the comparative data come from that suggests the mere reportage of injures can somehow reduce them? And in the case where racing programs are reduced from year round to seasonal, as in Massachusetts, then there should be an equal, relative reduction in injuries, with or without injury reporting. There is no cause and effect achieved upon the greyhounds or the racing surface itself, by the simple filing of a document.

The Gaetz injury reporting bill, recently passed by the Senate in Florida, is just such a piece of junk legislation. It is not designed to reduce and prevent injuries to greyhounds, but is crafted to burden veterinarians and greyhound breeders and trainers, (even those breeders and owners who are out of state), with paperwork and bureaucracy.

Additionally, it will accomplish nothing more than providing non-contextual fodder for donation seeking anti-racing propagandists, ultimately to no one’s benefit---other than the racetracks who wish to transition into casino operation, or full-fledged casino operations, without ever having bid for those privileges. It is the management of those racetracks who are and always have been responsible for the condition of their racing surfaces and all related equipment.

No bona-fide or ethical greyhound advocate, within or outside of racing, could possibly be oblivious or antagonistic to the need for mandating more diligence on the part of those racetracks in doing a better job than they have been recently, while noting the widely reported rash of injuries and fatalities at Florida’s racetracks---and the transparent and attendant cries for “decoupling”.

Which is simply code for : “We were granted permission to conduct casino and card room wagering only because we already were already licensed for Pari-Mutuel wagering. Knowing that expanding into those operations would negatively impact the wagering on our greyhound races, we agreed to share a small percentage of that revenue with the kennels, for not making a big fuss, and for allowing us to circumvent the usual balloting and bidding procedures, and to rake in a windfall. Now that we have gotten what we wanted, and after years of having failed to promote greyhound racing, we would like to renege on that arrangement.”

Can you spell “conflict of interest”?

The Greyhound Safety Act is pending legislation that not only requires injury reporting, but requires that racetrack management and their racing departments do a better job of maintaining a safe racing surface, as well as updating their electronic lure equipment to fail-safe them from presenting shock and concussion hazards to the greyhounds.

Racetrack surface maintenance is a science. It involves a lot more than just running a drag over the racing surface so that it looks nice and smooth. Two critical factors in analyzing and evaluating the safety of a racing surface are its component makeup (relative amounts of sand, silt, clay), and injury reports. Noted veterinarian and canine biomechanical expert, Dr. Rob Gillette, has this to say, regarding the proper use of injury reports and their role in managing a racing surface:

“Two ways to assess the racing surface are by using injury reports or by analyzing the surface. Injury reports can be used to determine the status of the racing surface. If there is a rise in injuries the racing surface should be considered as a possible cause. Certain injuries are related to various surface problems. This is a controversial way to assess the racing surface because changes to the track occur after the injuries have occurred. The surface itself can be analyzed for changes or problems. The content can be analyzed or base measurements can be determined. This method is better in preventing injuries…

Each racing facility regulatory veterinarian should keep a record of racing injuries. If a sudden increase in numbers occur, the racing surface should be evaluated for surface alterations. There can be seasonal variation in injury numbers, but these will be documented by the injury records. Certain track conditions will produce injuries related to that condition...

Assessing the racing surface using injury reports is one way to assess racetrack status. It requires little effort by the individuals involved and requires minimal knowledge of the racetrack mechanics. Its drawback is that the injuries have occurred before any evaluation is possible…

Once the basic information is accumulated to understand the normal paw-to-surface interaction the racing surface can be analyzed periodically for detrimental surface changes. That way surface problems can be detected before the injuries occur. The information required to have a basic knowledge of the foot-surface relationship includes content materials and RATIOS, base depths, force absorption, and surface traction.”

So we can see that while injury reports are a necessary adjunct to assuring optimal greyhound safety while racing, they are in no way a panacea. The cynical, out of context use of them to simply gin up public outrage and to raise pity donations for phony advocacy groups, without any mandates for racetrack management to finally begin to avail themselves of 21st century technology in preparing and maintaining their racing surfaces, is a waste of time and money. Unless, of course, your endgame is to impel more, not fewer injuries, so that your political agenda can be achieved.

Support the Greyhound Safety Act, co sponsored by Senator Chris Smith and Representative Kevin Rader---the only pending legislation in Florida that will actually help to prevent injuries to racing greyhounds.

Copyright, 2015