Help Wanted: Greyhound Rescuers

by Dennis McKeon

couchsurfinggt2.jpgTen thousand Racing Greyhounds in the State of Florida are in presently in imminent danger. This is no laughing matter. These remarkable and gentle animals, who can race at speeds up to 45mph, are currently being used as the political footballs of anti-racing activists, their media sycophants, politicians who are beholden to Casino Corporations which operate casinos with greyhound racing, and those casino-racetrack interests themselves.

Currently, there are two pending pieces of legislation in Florida, which purport to concern themselves with the safety of the Florida’s Racing Greyhounds.

One of these is called the Gaetz Bill, which would mandate the formal documentation and reporting of injuries sustained by racing greyhounds, on a case-by-case basis, to the gaming authorities, any time a greyhound sustains an injury while racing on any of Florida’s greyhound racetracks.

The other of these bills is called The Greyhound Safety Act, and it also mandates injury reporting, just like the Gaetz Bill. However, it goes quite a bit deeper than that, to address the actual root causes of injuries.

Specifically, it requires the management of all racetracks in Florida to address the critical issues of racetrack surface maintenance, which has always been their responsibility, as the owners of the racetrack itself. It is upon these racetrack surfaces that all racing injuries occur.

The Greyhound Safety Act would require that racetrack maintenance crews and management work in concert with the University of Florida School of Veterinary Medicine, to upgrade racetrack maintenance protocols, methods and standards to a level that insures maximum safety for the Greyhounds.

It would also mandate that any racetrack which has yet to do so, safeguard their electronic lures, so that they present no shock or concussion hazards to the greyhounds, in the event that a greyhound should come into contact with that machinery during a race.

Not surprisingly, most of the corporations which own the casino-racetracks, or those who own racetracks which do not feature casino gaming, are against the Greyhound Safety Act. It will cost them time, money and man-hours to conform to it. They seem to have instructed their political lackeys and media contacts to support and publicize the essentially impotent Gaetz Bill, which will do absolutely nothing to prevent greyhounds from suffering preventable injuries while racing, but will save them all a lot of hassle, money and commitment.

Ironically, the self-styled, anti-racing, “greyhound protection” groups, and the activist, greyhound “rescue” groups, have yet to step up in support of the Greyhound Safety Act. Though they have long supported injury reporting, they have essentially ignored the Greyhound Safety Act, which includes injury reporting, but adds the teeth of oversight and accountability for the condition of the racetrack itself, and the related racing equipment, to prevent injuries from occurring in the first place.

The sad truth of the matter is, that injury prevention is not on the agenda of big gaming corporations who wish to be rid of greyhound racing, so that they can devote all their resources to casino operation. Even though the only reason they were granted that uncontested sanction to conduct casino wagering was because they were already licensed to operate pari-mutuel wagering on the greyhound races.

Neither is injury prevention on the agenda of the infamous “greyhound protectors”, whose income is derived from portraying racing greyhounds as wretched objects of pity, and accepting tax-free donations to “protect” them from the alleged abuses of racing. Except, that is, when protecting them involves practical legislation designed to prevent injuries. Injuries to greyhounds, you see, and the negative publicity they generate via their media networks, tend to increase their income from donations, quite substantially. Preventing injuries to greyhounds might have prevented them from taking in millions of dollars in pity donations, while providing not one, tangible shred of hands-on, greyhound welfare services.

So we can see, as things are now, there is not one iota of incentive for either casino-racetrack management, which wishes to rid itself of the commitment they made to greyhound racing in order to get permission to operate casinos, or the “greyhound protectors”, whose income rises with each and every injury to greyhounds, to want to prevent them from happening. Their friends in the media see to that, by relentlessly, and without context, sensationally reporting on these injuries, as if they occur within a vacuum, and as if there were no such thing as any significant and effective legislation, like the Greyhound Safety Act, designed to prevent and minimize them.

The Florida Greyhound Association (of breeders and owners) strongly supports the Greyhound Safety Act.

So, while the word “rescue” has become highly-charged and controversial when used to describe the at-will adoption process that services the racing greyhound, those who still fancy themselves as “rescuers” have a chance to make that a reality.

The greyhounds in Florida truly do need to be rescued–from the machinations of greedy casino corporations, phony advocacy/protection groups, corrupt politicians, and sensationalist, journalist/activists, who all benefit and whose agenda is served by neglect of the racing environment of the racing greyhound–to the point where more, not fewer injuries to greyhounds, are the endgame.

Please contact your state representatives and senators, and demand that they support the Greyhound Safety Act (HB167, SB262), co-sponsored by Representative Rader and Senator Smith. And give the word “rescue” some real credence.

copyright, 2015 Dennis McKeon

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