ACTION TO DEFER RACING BAN STALLS…FOR TODAY

The Massachusetts State Senate voted today against two budget amendments that would have delayed until 2012 implementation of the state’s scheduled ban on live greyhound racing, but observers say there’s still hope for passage.

An article by Quincy (MA) Patriot Ledger reporter Nancy Reardon in today’s on-line edition explained that some legislators voted against the amendments on procedural grounds, believing that the racing ban issue should be addressed separately from the budget.

The article quoted Senator Marc Pacheco, who represents Taunton, where Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park is located. "I’m asking for a delay, not a repeal," Pacheco reportedly told his legislative colleagues.

A poll commissioned by the National Greyhound Association and an organization of ban opponents found that 61 percent of Massachusetts residents believe the track closings should be deferred until the economy improves. Closure of the two state tracks is expected to eliminate more than 1,300 jobs and cost the host communities, Taunton and Revere, hundreds of thousands in tax revenues.

Pacheco is urging legislators to take quick action on the proposed ban delay to keep employees working and ensure that track revenues can be included in fiscal 2010 budgets for both cities.

 

MASSACHUSETTS TRACK EMPLOYEES RALLY TO SAVE JOBS, DEFER RACING BAN

Race track workers, greyhound owners and supporters rallied in front of the Massachusetts State House today to present a poll showing that 61 percent of voters now favor delaying a ban on dog racing to save track workers" jobs and the revenue the tracks bring in to state coffers.

 

The poll was done in April by Kiley & Company of Boston on behalf of Raynham Park and the National Greyhound Association.

Linda Jensen, president of Protection of Working Animals and Handlers (POWAAH), a non-profit corporation formed to help track workers stay employed in the wake of the November vote, told the crowd that the economy has changed public opinion since November.

“People now realize that the economy is so bad that track workers will have nowhere to work and quite possibly nowhere to live should they lose their jobs,” Jensen said. “The last thing we should be doing in this economy is throwing hard working people out of work and into the streets.”

According to government statistics, the unemployment rate in Massachusetts is approaching eight percent, representing 266,000 people out of work, up from 4.7 percent in March of 2008.

Karen Burke, mutual manager at Raynham Park in Raynham, said she and her colleagues want to keep their jobs, and that there are, quite literally, no other jobs available to them if the tracks close in January as now scheduled.

“I have worked at Raynham Park for 24 years and my job supports me and my three children,” Burke said. “I know that finding a comparable job with comparable benefits will be nearly impossible in this economy, so we’re asking the Legislature to give us some more time.”

Al Smith, representing the National Greyhound Association, told the crowd that the NGA supports the workers in their efforts to secure the delay in implementing the ban.

“The NGA had this poll taken because we felt that the economy has changed voters’ minds, and the poll bears this out,” said Smith. “Now we are asking the people who have the ability to help the workers to do just that.”

If the ban goes into effect as scheduled, some 1,300 people will be thrown out of work at the tracks in Raynham and Revere. Legislators will consider whether to enact a two-year delay to give the workers more time to plan for the end of racing and a chance to find jobs in a better economy.

Following the rally, track workers brought the poll results to legislative offices in an effort to convince lawmakers that public sentiment has changed dramatically since last November’s vote because of the worsening economy.

ADOPTED RACERS GET SPOTLIGHT AT GREYHOUND HALL OF FAME

Devoted owners of retired racing greyhounds can now pay tribute to their beloved pets in two areas set aside for that purpose at the Greyhound Hall of Fame in Abilene, KS.

Bill Lee, Hall of Fame Chairman, said an interactive kiosk in the museum’s lobby and an outdoor park on the facility’s grounds will provide opportunities for greyhound owners to honor their adopted racers.  

For a $100 donation to the museum, owners may provide their names, and the name and a photograph of their retired greyhound, to be displayed and archived in perpetuity in the kiosk. Visitors will be able to browse the archives by owner’s name, racer’s name or by state.

In addition, work has begun on a new Greyhound Park behind the Hall of Fame building.  The park area will feature personalized pavers honoring a favorite retired racer, greyhound owner, organization or individual. The pavers cost $100 each, with all proceeds to benefit the Hall of Fame.

"This is a great way for people to honor their favorite greyhounds or greyhound lovers," said Lee.  "When you can do something that makes people happy, and at the same time benefit the Hall of Fame, that’s definitely a win-win."

For more information, contact the Greyhound Hall of Fame at 1-800-932-7881, or by email.  The Hall of Fame is located at 407 S. Buckeye Avenue, Abilene KS 67410.

 

GREY2K GUILTY OF “SHAMELESS HYPE,” SAYS VET

A leading veterinary expert on greyhound health says that racing greyhounds experience accidental injuries at about the same rate as other working dogs and active family pets, and dismissed contradictory claims by the animal rights group Grey2K USA as “shameless hype.”

Dr. Brad Fenwick, Vice Chancellor for Research at the University of Tennessee—Knoxville and an internationally recognized expert on greyhound health, said that the vast majority of injuries to racing greyhounds are minor, and the dogs usually return to racing in a matter of weeks. 

“Even when an injury ends a greyhound’s racing career, that dog usually is able to transition very successfully to life as an adopted pet,” Fenwick said.  “Life-threatening injuries to greyhounds are extremely rare.  To suggest otherwise is nothing more than shameless hype.”   

American Greyhound Council (AGC) Communications Coordinator Gary Guccione said Grey2K uses isolated incidents of serious injury to inflame well-intentioned animal lovers and raise money for its political war against greyhound racing.

“Make no mistake, it’s all about fundraising,” Guccione said.  “If they can find a video or two that gets a strong emotional response, the dollars will come pouring in.  If they can’t stir people up, they can’t raise money.”

Guccione said the true measure of Grey2K’s concern for greyhounds is found in its opposition to adoption efforts.

“GreyK President Christine Dorchak has directed her supporters to refrain from any communication or involvement in greyhound adoption,” he said.  “Her mission is political warfare, not greyhound welfare.”

The AGC is a joint program of greyhound breeders and track operators, founded in 1987 to fund and oversee greyhound welfare and adoption programs.  More information on the AGC is available at www.agcouncil.com.
 

AGC SETS RECORD STRAIGHT IN FLORIDA NEWSPAPER

The AGC has taken on Grey2K USA in a letter to the editor of the Naples (FL) News.

 The letter, written by AGC Communications Coordinator Gary Guccione, was submitted in response to an April 4 article about a protest at the Naples-Fort Myers track.  Here is the complete text:

Dear Editor:

The April 4 story by John Osborne quoted several inaccurate statements by Grey2K USA representatives. Unfortunately, Grey2K is famous for misrepresenting the facts about greyhound racing.

First, more than 90 percent of all registered greyhounds are adopted or returned to the farm as pets or breeders when they retire.  Since the number of greyhounds bred annually has dropped dramatically in the past couple of years, we are confident that we will achieve our goal of 100 percent placememtn of all eligible racers in the very near future.

Second, common sense should tell us that greyhounds must have plenty of exercise in order to stay in shape for racing.  When they are not exercising outdoors, which they do three or four times daily, they prefer to lie quietly in their crates.  Anyone who has ever adopted a greyhound will confirm that they are dedicated "couch potatoes" when not actively engaged in exercise.

Third, greyhounds must eat a healthy and nutritious diet to perform at their peak.  The meat they eat is classified by the USDA as unsuitable for human consumption but perfectly healthy for pets.  As any pet owner knows, dogs eat many things humans wouldn’t, and usually without the benefit of broiling or frying first.

As usual, Grey2K activists are promoting myth instead of fact.  However, media stunts and publicity are not very productive for the greyhounds.  They would do more good for the dogs if they focused on greyhound welfare instead of political warfare.

Sincerely,

Gary Guccione, Communications Coordinator, AGC

 

NGA OFFERS HELP IN OHIO INVESTIGATION

The National Greyhound Association (NGA) has offered assistance to Logan County, OH officials investigating the deaths of 14 dogs, including some that may be greyhounds, found skinned and mutilated near a creek in Rush Lake Township.  

NGA Executive Director Gary Guccione said he advised the county’s humane agent, Joni Dailey, that his organization may be able to identify any dead dogs that appear to be greyhounds through DNA records.

“The NGA collects DNA samples from registered greyhounds, so there is a good chance, if these dogs are actually greyhounds, that we might be able to identify them and locate their owners,” Guccione said.

Although a local veterinarian identified some of the dead dogs as greyhounds, Guccione said coyote remains are often mistaken for greyhound carcasses.  If the dogs turn out to be registered greyhounds, the NGA’s own investigative and disciplinary process would be triggered.

“The NGA has adopted very tough rules to ensure that greyhound owners take responsibility for their dogs from birth to retirement,” Guccione said.  “People who violate those rules, especially in such an egregious way as this, are subject to lifetime expulsion from the sport.”

 “It’s hard to imagine why anyone would want to harm animals in this way,” Guccione concluded.  “Our members are in the greyhound business because they love dogs; when something like this happens, we want to help in any way we can to get to the bottom of it.”

 

TRACK OPERATORS SEEK NOMINATIONS FOR GREYHOUND PERSON OF YEAR

The American Greyhound Track Operators Association (AGTOA) has announced that it is seeking nominations for the 2009 Greyhound Adoption Person of the Year.  This award recognizes a volunteer who has generously given of his or her time to assist in placing former racing greyhounds into homes as pets.

“There are many dedicated volunteers throughout the U.S. and Canada who work tirelessly to find suitable homes for greyhounds that have completed their racing careers,” said Karen Keelan, president of the AGTOA.  “Each year, as a tribute to them all, we honor one of these individuals.”

Anyone can nominate an individual to receive this recognition.  The recipient will be selected based on the individual’s dedication and contribution to greyhound adoption during that year.

The Greyhound Adoption Person of the Year will be honored at the AGTOA’s annual meeting in March 2010 in Las Vegas. In addition to paying for travel and accommodations for the trip, the AGTOA will make a $500 donation to an adoption group of the honoree’s choice.

For a nomination form or more information, click here or call Dennis Bicsak (561) 615-3916.  Nomination forms must be received by August 28, 2009 for consideration.

The Greyhound Adoption Person of the Year was established in 2007.  Past winners are Cheryl King, Heart of Texas Greyhound Inc. (2007) and Dennis Tyler, Central Florida Greyhound Pets of America (2008).

The AGTOA, formed in 1946, is a non-profit corporation comprised of greyhound race track owners and operators throughout the nation.

 

DORCHAK E-MAIL REVEALS GREY2K’S ANTI-WELFARE STANCE

Opponents of New Hampshire House Bill 630, which would ban live greyhound racing in the state, may have been the only people who weren’t surprised recently when Grey2K President Christine Dorchak circulated an e-mail to New Hampshire "animal advocates" urging them to "refrain from interacting" with Greyhound Pets of America (GPA), the nation’s largest independent greyhound adoption organization.

Dorchak attacked GPA for testifying against Grey2K bills in other states, describing the adoption organization as "an arm of the racing industry."  Her e-mail underscored what adoption advocates inside and outside greyhound racing have been saying for years–that Grey2K isn’t really about animal welfare at all.

Until Dorchak’s e-mail surfaced, some legislators might have been persuaded that Grey2K’s focus was the welfare of greyhounds.  However, the hostile e-mail, actively discouraging cooperation and communication with a leading adoption organization, revealed Grey2K’s extreme preference for political warfare over greyhound welfare.

GPA members responded quickly.  Appearing before the New Hampshire House Local and Regulated Revenues Committee, Reverend Jeffrey Betterini, director of the central New Hampshire chapter of GPA, said, "We at GPA are completely neutral on the issue of racing.  What we do is receive retired greyhound racers, foster them in volunteer homes, make them ready for adoption, and find them forever families."

Betterini also told legislators that New Hampshire’s laws are well defined when it comes to animal care, so the action to ban live racing on animal welfare grounds is "unnecessary and unwarranted."

If legislators decide to pass the bill, Betterini concluded, they should amend it to include funding for the adoption of the greyhounds to be displaced.

"When a track closes, the suddenly increased demand for adoptive homes for the greyhounds is not contained to the local area or even the state," he said.  "It is felt across the nation." 

 

 

 

 

FROM NEW HAMPSHIRE: INDUSTRY LEADERS TESTIFY AGAINST GREY2K BILL

AGTOA President Karen Keelan, owner of Seabrook Greyhound Park, and NGA Board Member Fred Fulchino appeared before a New Hampshire legislative committee on February 10 to oppose a Grey2K-driven bill that would ban greyhound racing in the state.

Keelan, whose greyhound track is one of two still conducting live racing in New Hampshire, told the committee that Grey2K’s campaign is "part of a radical nationwide effort to eliminate live greyhound racing."  She said Grey2K has "run an emotional campaign based on half-truths and distorted information."

The track owner warned legislators that bowing to animal rights pressure on greyhound racing would set a dangerous precedent, opening the door to future animal rights campaigns against agriculture, hunting and fishing, pet breeding and even biomedical research.

"These campaigns often result in poor public policy with serious unintended consequences to government as well as the affected enterprises," Keelan noted.

As an example, she cited the idea, put forth by Grey2K and its supporters, that live racing should be banned simply because it is not currently profitable.

"The free market should dictate what happens to our business," Keelan emphasized, "not the distortions that Grey2K would have you believe." 

Her concerns were echoed by Fred Fulchino, New England District Representative for the National Greyhound Association (NGA), and a leading greyhound breeder and kennel operator.  "There is no justification, either economic or on animal welfare grounds, for eliminating our business," he told lawmakers.

After describing the NGA’s farm inspection and animal care policies, Fulchino explained that those who violate industry standards are subject to lifetime expulsion from greyhound racing, and others prohibited from doing business with them.

Fulchino also outlined greyhound racing’s adoption programs, noting that more than 90 percent of all registered greyhounds are either adopted or returned to the farm as pets or breeders when they retire.

"As New Hampshire legislators, you can be proud that one of your state’s tracks, Seabrook Greyhound Park, has been a national leader in the adoption effort," he noted.

Fulchino also called the attention of legislators to a recent e-mail from Grey2K’s founder to New Hampshire animal advocates. Christine Dorchak’s e-mail urged readers to "refrain from interacting with" Greyhound Pets of America (GPA), the nation’s largest independent adoption organization.  Grey2K’s attempt to discourage cooperation on greyhound adoption revealed that its agenda is more about political warfare than greyhound welfare, he said.

The committee is expected to forward its recommendation next week.  In New Hampshire, all bills are referred out of committee with recommendations for or against passage by the full legislature.

 

NAIA SPEAKS OUT IN SUPPORT OF GREYHOUND RACING

The National Animal Interest Alliance (NAIA), a leading advocate for animals and responsible animal users, has submitted written testimony in support of greyhound racing to the New Hampshire legislative committee that is considering a bill to ban the sport.

 On February 10, New Hampshire legislators received  testimony from NAIA founder Patti Strand urging rejection of HB 630,an animal rights-driven bill to ban greyhound racing in the state.  Although Strand was unable to attend the hearing, her comments were submitted in writing to committee members.

"Part of our mission is to counter the misinformation from radicals in the animal rights movement wherever and whenever we encounter it, including state legislatures," Strand said in her written statement.  "That’s why we are submitting this testimony today."

Strand, whose organization has fought animal rights extremism for nearly two decades, advised legislators that the Grey2K campaign, like other animal rights initiatives, is not really about animal welfare at all.

"It’s about an agenda that would eventually deny our right as consumers to eat meat, drink milk, wear leather or fur, breed pets, hunt and fish, and even benefit from biomedical research," she said.

Understanding the difference between animal welfare and animal rights is vital for public policy makers, Strand explained.

"The animal welfare view is that it is ethically acceptable to make use of animals as long as we do so responsibly and humanely," she said.  "The animal rights view holds that animals are not ours to eat, wear or experiment on."

Strand noted that Grey2K has produced no compelling evidence that New Hampshire racing greyhounds do not receive proper care.  Since the group has called for no greyhound welfare reforms or regulatory changes, their agenda is clearly political warfare over greyhound welfare, she concluded.

More information about the National Animal Interest Alliance can be found at www.naiaonline.org.