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