Dear Tucson-About Testosterone

by Dennis McKeon

couchsurfinggt2.jpgTo Whom It May Concern:

As a retired professional greyhound trainer, over the course of my career, I handled thousands of females, who, with few exceptions, were all given monthly injections of testosterone as a means of responsible birth control. Those few who showed a sensitivity to the hormone were simply taken off them. That sensitivity usually indicated that you had a female who wouldn’t come into season easily, at any rate.

The recent clamor [2014} that has come to my attention concerning the administration of hormones to females at the Tucson facility is a bit vexing. For 50 years, greyhound breeders have been castigated by the same anti-racing lobby who now demands forcible cessation of birth control for young female greyhounds, for “over-breeding” their dogs—allegedly creating a glut of greyhounds each year who were in excess of the demand for them by the racetracks in the USA. As if there were no expense involved in breeding and raising those greyhounds, and as if racing opportunities were limitless.

Now we are being led to believe that this was apparently not the case, and that in actuality, female greyhound’s reproductive systems were being ravaged by hormone injections, creating all manner of widespread illness and reproductive tissue dysfunction. So which is it? They can’t have it both ways.

I would be interested in seeing the peer-reviewed papers and studies which indicate that there is a cause and effect relationship between the hormones used for birth control in female greyhounds, and the frequency of the alleged diseases, syndromes and dysfunctions, which exceed the frequency of these things occurring within the general canine population. Because that is the only issue that matters here. The various maladies that are alleged to occur among racing greyhounds are not in any way unique to the breed, nor are they rare among the rest of the female canine population. Let’s stop playing “he said, she said”, and bring some real science to the table for the purposes of comparing the wherewithal of the two populations. Without that, we are simply evaluating the veracity of anecdotes and hearsay, and viewing the greyhound population as an anomaly.

As far as the allegation that these birth control hormones confer a performance advantage upon females, that is easily disproved. One only has to look at the actual facts. Since the advent of formal, competitive coursing and then racing, it has long been known that female greyhounds can compete, stride-for-stride with males, and that racing ability is not sex-linked. There is no segregation of females in track racing, nor has there ever been. Historically, before and after the use of hormones as estrus suppressants, females have always won races at a rate that was proportional to their opportunities. The Tucson females today are no exception. Were they the recipients of a performance advantage as a result of these hormone injections, it is eminently logical to assume that they would then win a disproportionate number of races, compared to their opportunities. But they don’t.

Recently, Christopher Molnar, who performs the database inputs of race results from the USA for Greyhound-data.com, the world’s definitive greyhound pedigree resource, did a study of all the greyhounds who competed, and the race results at Tucson, from April 1, 2011, through September 8, 2012.

Here are the results of that study, which encompasses a very large sampling:

Races Recorded from 2011 Apr01- 2012 Sep 08: 6873
Total Races won by female dogs: 3850 (56%)
Total Races won by male dogs: 3023 (44%)

Total starts made by greyhounds: 53,890 during period
Total Female Starts: 30081 (56%)
Total Male Starts: 23809 (44%)

Total number of individual dogs during this time period: 1308
Total number of individual female dogs: 713 (55%)
Total number of individual male dogs: 595 (45%)

So we can see that females win at a rate that is in exact proportion to their opportunities, as they have historically. No more, no less.There was no performance advantage implied or expressed. They comprised 56% of the starters, and 56% of the winners. All of this information can be verified on Greyhound-data.com, which has the official charts of the races.

I won’t exhaust you by hyperventilating over my astonishment that 100 veterinarians in the Tucson area apparently feel that male greyhounds should be exposed to the debilitating and cruel stresses and the inevitable physical battles that will ensue should females be allowed to come into season randomly, within close proximity to them. It’s Canine Behavior 101, and I won’t ask you to spend any more of your time on something that is so easily grasped by anyone who is even casually familiar with the subject. We will also not belabor the unwanted and unplanned pregnancies that are sure to occur as a result of this monumentally absurd, proposed legislation. That will all happen in Court, when a handler is seriously injured, maimed, or worse, breaking up one of those canine battles for mating privileges, which would not have taken place had simple, humane, birth control protocols been allowed.

Copyright 2014 Dennis McKeon

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