GUCCIONE: ADOPTION STORY GREAT, MISLEADING PUBLIC NOT SO MUCH

This AGC letter to the editor appeared in the August 24 edition of the Livingston (MI) Daily Press.

Dear Editor:

We always welcome coverage of greyhound adoption, but we are disappointed to see misinformation like that contained in your Aug. 19 story about a local couple that adopted a retired greyhound ("Couple putting dogs on track to happiness.")

Greyhound racing works with mainstream adoption groups throughout the nation to find suitable homes for retired racers. Today, more than 90 percent of all registered greyhounds are adopted or returned to the farm as pets or breeders when they retire. Racing and adoption organizations are working together to reach the goal of 100 percent placement of all eligible greyhounds in the near future.

Common sense tells us that greyhounds must receive the best care and treatment in order to perform at their peak. Their crates must be large enough for them to sit, stand, turn around and lie down comfortably. Their diet must be nutritious and satisfying. They must be turned out for fresh air and exercise periodically throughout the day.

Whether on the farm or at the track, kennel operators are expected to comply with these standards. Those who violate them are banned from the sport for life, and others prohibited from doing business with them. Very few industries take such bold steps to rid themselves of the "bad apples" in their business.

The best proof of the good care that greyhounds receive is the dogs themselves. Adoptive greyhound owners, including the ones in your story, marvel at how gentle, loving and friendly these retired racers are. It should be obvious that they wouldn’t be that way if they had been mistreated during their athletic careers.

Helping to find adoptive homes for greyhounds is a great thing. Misleading the public about the quality of their lives, not so much.

Gary Guccione

American Greyhound Council

Abilene, Kan.

AGC CORRECTS FACTUAL ERROR IN UTAH NEWSPAPER

Following is the full text of AGC Communications Coordinator Gary Guccione’s July 30 letter to the Ogden Standard.

Dear Editor:

We appreciated your July 28 story about a local event to promote the adoption of retired racing greyhounds, but the story contained an important factual error that needs correcting.

In greyhound racing today, more than 90 percent of all registered greyhounds are either adopted or returned to the farm as pets or breeders when they retire. Greyhound racing is working with adoption volunteer groups all over the country to achieve the goal of 100 percent placement of all eligible greyhounds in the near future.

Each year, greyhound tracks and industry organizations spend more than $2 million to support and promote greyhound adoption. This includes over sixty grants per year to independent local, regional and national adoption groups.

Greyhounds make great pets in large measure because of the excellent care they receive during their racing careers. Because they are accustomed to careful handling and daily attention from humans, they are gentle, docile and affectionate, even with children. They usually adapt to family life quickly and easily, earning their reputation as lovable “couch potatoes.”

We commend Ms. Hillstead for her hard work on greyhound adoption, and invite her and your readers to visit our website, www.agcouncil.com, for more information on greyhound racing and adoption.

Sincerely,

Gary Guccione, Communications Coordinator
American Greyhound Council

FENWICK ANSWERS COMMON QUESTIONS ABOUT KENNEL COUGH, CANINE INFLUENZA

Canine disease expert sets record straight on health topics often misunderstood by industry members as well as the media.

Greyhound Diseases
Questions and Answers
Brad Fenwick, DVM, PhD, DACVM,
College of Veterinary Medicine, University of Tennessee

Are canine influenza and kennel cough the same thing? What is the difference between them?

Canine influenza is one of many microorganisms that can cause respiratory disease in dogs. Kennel cough is the generic term used for the common symptoms that are associated with respiratory infections in dogs. The parallel in humans is a “cold” which can be caused by a number of different infectious organisms. The symptoms in both humans and dogs are similar, including coughing, sneezing, runny nose, and excess tearing.

What are the symptoms of canine influenza/kennel cough?

The symptoms of kennel cough, regardless of cause, include coughing, sneezing, runny nose, excess tearing, reduced activity, and occasionally mild fever. Symptoms generally resolve without need for medical attention in 5 to 14 days.

Is canine influenza/kennel cough deadly?

Only in very rare conditions do the infectious microorganisms that cause kennel cough, including influenza, cause significant disease. More serious disease is typically associated with a secondary infection with a bacterium that results in pneumonia. Fortunately, in these rare cases prompt treatment with the appropriate antibiotics is highly effective.

Are greyhounds the source of canine influenza/kennel cough?

No. Greyhounds are not the source of canine influenza or the other causes of kennel cough, as all dog breeds are susceptible. As in the case with most respiratory diseases, outbreaks are more common in larger populations. While the disease can occur in individual dogs, it is much more common in dog shelters. Reports in greyhounds tend to be more common because of the importance of even a mild infection to the athletic performance of racing greyhounds.

Should greyhounds that show signs of canine influenza/kennel cough be quarantined?

Like all infectious diseases, dogs that show signs of a potentially infectious disease should be kept away from other dogs so that transmission is avoided.

What should you do if your dog develops canine influenza/kennel cough?

Dogs that show signs of respiratory disease should be watched carefully and if there is any significant change in behavior beyond a mild cough, runny nose, and watery eyes should be examined by a veterinarian. If symptoms worsen quickly, it is important that a knowledgeable veterinarian see the dog immediately.

Is there a vaccine for canine influenza/kennel cough?

There are a number of vaccines against many of the microorganisms that can cause kennel cough. Unfortunately, protection is not reliable in all cases. Currently there is no vaccine against canine influenza because the infection is so mild and difficult to reproduce; the value of a vaccine in preventing symptoms has not been demonstrated.

How does canine influenza/kennel cough spread?

Like most microorganisms that cause respiratory infectious, transmission takes place by direct and indirect contact with individuals that are infected and actively shedding the microorganism. Depending on the cause, active shedding takes place during and for a few days following the resolution of symptoms. Disinfection of the environment using standard cleaning materials is helpful

How can you prevent canine influenza/kennel cough from spreading?

By isolating dogs with active symptoms and for a few days after the illness subsides. In addition, you should disinfect the area where the dog is kept and any items with which the dog has come in contact.

How can you prevent your dog from getting canine influenza/kennel cough?

All dogs, particularly puppies and dogs that come into contact with large numbers of other dogs, should be vaccinated. Efforts should be made to avoid contact with dogs that have, or have recently had, symptoms of kennel cough.

What can I do to prevent diseases in my retired greyhound?

There is nothing different about avoiding diseases in retired greyhounds from any other dog breed.

How do I know when I should take my greyhound to see my vet?
As with all dog breeds, periodic examinations by a veterinarian are a good idea. More frequent visits are recommended for puppies and old dogs. Naturally, any sudden changes in behavior or physical changes signal the need to have the dog examined by a veterinarian.

What are the most common greyhound diseases/illnesses?

While racing, the most common diseases in greyhounds involve minor respiratory infectious and gastrointestinal upsets that resolve quickly. In retired racing greyhounds, illnesses are similar to other breeds of dogs. There is an increased occurrence of bone cancer in greyhounds as is the case with a few other large breed dogs.

Brad Fenwick earned a DVM and MS in Pathology from Kansas State University, completed a residency and received a PhD from the University of California Davis, and is board certified by the American College of Veterinary Microbiologists. His expertise is focused on the diagnosis and treatment of infectious diseases of animals. He has been involved with racing greyhounds for many years where he is recognized internationally. Currently he is a professor of pathobiology at the University of Tennessee where he also serves as the University’s Vice Chancellor for Research and Engagement.

ESPN GUEST’S COMMENTS WERE “IGNORANT AND INEXCUSABLE,” GUCCIONE TELLS SPORTS NETWORK

AGC challenges remarks by NY Times reporter William Rhoden on ESPN’s "The Sports Reporters" TV show.

AGC Communications Coordinator Gary Guccione sent the following letter to ESPN in response to Rhoden’s comments, in which he compared greyhound racing to Michael Vick’s illegal dogfighting activities.

Dear Editor:

William C. Rhoden’s recent comments about the Rooney family and its ownership of a greyhound track (Sunday, July 12, “The Sports Reporters,” ESPN) were ignorant and inexcusable. If he believes that Michael Vick was treated unjustly for his involvement in illegal dogfighting, he should make that argument on its own merits, and not try to shift the focus to the legal and highly regulated sport of greyhound racing.

Greyhound racing regulation covers every stage of the sport, from the breeding and training of the dogs on the farm to their care and handling at the track. Breeding farms are subject to unannounced inspections to verify compliance with industry standards for greyhound care. The same standards apply when trainers operate racing kennels at the track. Those who violate the rules of responsible greyhound care are banned from the sport for life, and other industry members prohibited from doing business with them.

At the track level, track contracts set out rules for greyhound care that kennel operators must follow or lose their racing privileges. Racing regulators enforce state and local greyhound welfare laws, and track veterinarians ensure that the dogs are sound and healthy before they race.

Greyhound racing’s commitment to responsible animal care doesn’t end there. The industry spends more than $2 million annually to support and promote greyhound adoption programs to see that retired racers are placed in loving adoptive homes. As a result of constructive cooperation between greyhound racing and volunteer adoption groups across the country, more than 90 percent of all registered greyhounds are either adopted or returned to the farm as pets or breeders when they retire. We hope to reach the goal of 100 percent placement of all eligible greyhounds in adoptive homes in the near future.

As a responsible legal and regulated industry, greyhound racing employs nearly 15,000 people nationwide with an annual payroll of nearly $200 million. Tracks pay more than $270 million in taxes, fees and permits where they operate. They spend more than $355 million annually on purchased goods and services. In addition, racetracks contribute more than $6.2 million annually to various community and charitable organizations.

When you consider these facts, it’s clear that Mr. Rhoden was just plain wrong in his comments. He should stop trying to make legitimate industries look bad in an effort to vindicate Michael Vick’s illegal and inhumane actions.

s/Gary Guccione, Communications Coordinator, American Greyhound Council, Abilene KS, 785-263-4660