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.
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.