Rebuttal to Straight Twist

by Jennifer Ng, DVM and President of Greyhound Adopters for Racing

I welcome discussion and am typically against any censorship, but one thing that I don't want my page used for is the dissemination of biased articles, especially if it's just simply posting a link and not being used as part of a discussion.

However, since I don't delete simply to suppress the opposing view like the anti-racing activists do, I will address this article link posted by Karen Mitchell that I deleted from one of my posts. I started doing a point-to-point rebuttal of this article, and it ended up being a lot longer than I was planning. I know most probably won't read all this, but since I put the time into it, I figured I'd post it. And if anyone sees this article posted or shared anywhere, feel free to respond with a link to this post.

This is in response to the article, “FL: 10 Reasons to Vote YES on Dog Racing Ban, Amendment 13” published by Straight Twist on 11/3/18.

* * * This, and pretty much all other anti-racing articles, are written based on the false premises that racing greyhounds are "suffering" and greyhound racing is inherently cruel and inhumane. These underlying premises simply are not true, and anti-racing extremists have never provided any logical evidence to support these claims.

Anyone who has actually visited a racing kennel or racing greyhound breeding farm, or attended a race — whether pro or amateur — could tell you that these dogs are not suffering, there is no cruelty involved, and the dogs thoroughly enjoy getting to race. Yet too much of the general public, with no personal experience with greyhound racing, are quick to believe what they read in articles like this, or have been brainwashed by decades of anti-racing propaganda to believe that greyhound racing is somehow cruel.

Aside from a false underlying premise, this article is full of incorrect and misleading information. It starts with the claim that the proposal behind Amendment 13 "was passed unanimously by the Constitutional Revision Commission (CRC)". The proposal actually passed the CRC with a vote of 27-10, just a few more than the 22 required to put the proposal on the ballot.

The article refers to "hundreds of deaths of greyhounds per year within the industry", but 483 deaths over a 5.5-year period is not "hundreds of deaths of greyhounds per year". In reality, a look at the data in proper context shows that injuries occur at a very low frequency, and deaths related to racing are extremely rare. For a more complete response to the injury and death claims, see my post here: https://www.facebook.com/jjng13/posts/10155917749002253

The anti-racing extremists like to cite specific cases of dogs that have died or specific incidents of abuse or neglect to create an emotional response. While it is sadly an effective strategy since many people make decisions based on emotion, those cases are not any more representative of the entire racing greyhound community than cases of abusive pet owners, animal hoarders, or puppy mills are representative of the entire pet-owning community.

The often-stated anti-racing point that greyhounds are confined for "20-23 hours in small cages" is simply not true. Anyone who has visited a track or seen a newly retired greyhound has seen how muscular and conditioned these athletes are. How would they maintain that condition if they were confined in small cages where they can barely move for extended periods of time?

This article cites that the FL Kennel Size Requirement is 36”L, 24”W, 32”H. However, they fail to note that the standard track crate is actually 42"L, 34"W, 32"H, more roomy than the average pet crate often used for greyhounds.

It also states: "FL Required 'Turn-out' time: None" - while that may be true, that doesn't reflect reality of how greyhounds are cared for at the track. I'm pretty sure there's no "required turn-out time" for pet dogs in Florida either. While turn-out schedules vary from kennel to kennel, most let their hounds out 5-6 times a day, for 30-90 min each time, depending on weather. Racing greyhounds also enjoy a number of other activities besides just turn-outs and racing, such as walking, exercising on the sprint path, morning schooling, rub downs and massage, even whirlpool time and swimming at some tracks.

There is someone in the kennel pretty much from 5 am until 11 pm, taking care of the dogs, and the dogs are in and out all day. Quite a bit more human companionship and interaction than a pet who is home alone for most of the day while their family is at work or school.

A closer look at the drug testing statistics clearly shows that the allegations of racing greyhounds being "drugged" are almost all media hype and data taken out of context. For a fact-based analysis that puts the numbers back into context, see this article: http://floridapolitics.com/archives/275807-jennifer-ng-anti-racing-activists-use-misinformation-out-of-context-data

Another argument made by the anti-racing activists is that Florida is "losing money" on racing. This article states that, "For the fiscal year 2016, dog racing brought in $2.85 million in state taxes, and the amount spent on bets was $240 million; a decline of 80%." While it may be a decline from when greyhound racing was more popular in the 80s, it's certainly not a loss, and that is still a pretty good chuck of money that contributes to the Florida economy.

This article claims that the greyhound adoption groups that oppose Amendment 13 are "either funded by or pressured into supporting dog racing from the American Greyhound Council". This is simply false. I'm the president of the group, Greyhound Adopters for Racing, that was responsible for putting together the list and graphic of the now 102 groups that oppose 13. I can tell you that it was an initiative done completely by people who are primarily adopters and had no input or pressure from the American Greyhound Council or any other representative of the racing industry. The large majority of adoption groups approached us voluntarily and requested to be added. Additionally, greyhound adoptions groups are not funded by the industry, and for most groups, any industry donations or grants are a very small fraction of the operating budget.

The article disputes the assertion that a greyhound racing ban should be a legislative matter, and not a constitutional issue. Their support for that opinion is that it has been defeated in the legislature multiple times so this is the way to put it in the hands of the citizens. However, this does not prove that it's a constitutional matter. And if greyhound racing is deemed *unconstitutional*, then what does that make horse racing? Also keep in mind that all of the premises used to claim greyhound racing is cruel (injuries, deaths, abuse, etc) are things that happen to pet dogs too, often on a much larger scale...

From the article: "The dogs are forced from birth into training while being taunted with lures to enhance their speed and incite a desire to chase. Such training has led to unnecessary injuries and the deaths of puppies."

This section shows a serious lack of understanding of greyhounds, prey drive, chase instinct, and dogs in general. Many dogs naturally have the instinct to chase moving objects, although it is a little more intense and inborn in sighthounds. It is a fun game for them, and there are many pet owners, especially sighthound owners who participate in amateur racing and lure coursing, who play with their dogs using a "lure pole" or "flirt pole". This is the first I've heard this game, which the dogs love, being referred to a "taunting". I've also never heard of this game resulting in injuries an deaths of puppies, although I suppose any athletic activity has some risk of injury.

From the article: "A ban on dog racing will not prevent the responsible breeding of greyhounds. Responsible breeding undoubtedly does not include the excessive overpopulation of Greyhounds which occurs by the thousands in the racing industry per year. That immense amount of overbreeding leads to the depletion of valuable resources needed to help other animals, and contributes to animal cruelty and the euthanasia of healthy dogs."

No, banning racing won't prevent responsible breeding of greyhounds. But it will do irreversible damage to the greyhound gene pool. It is naive to think otherwise, or shows a lack of understanding of population genetics. If you take away the infrastructure that supports 99% of the greyhound population in the US, most of the bloodlines and gene pool will be lost.

It is also a misconception that there is an "overpopulation of greyhounds". How can there be an overpopulation when greyhound adoption groups have waiting lists because they have more people wanting to adopt than dogs available?

The article states that, "The National Greyhound Association has made it clear that they refuse to work with any adoption groups who do not support racing."

This is false, and a look at the reference provided for this statement is further evidence that anti-racing proponents twist the truth. This is supposedly from p. 49 on GREY2K's "High Stakes" document. Here's the actual quote from that source:

"The NGA is not a regulating body, but rather a promoter of greyhound racing. One example of the industry’s focus on promotion is the Iowa Greyhound Association’s (IGA) position on adoption. The IGA posted a notice in its March 2012 newsletter that specifically told people to “not adopt from groups who are against the industry.” 577 When GREY2K USA challenged the IGA on its stance, the IGA posted a response on its website from Marsha Kelly, a controversial public affairs consultant who represents animal-use industries. Kelly stated that “the success of our adoption effort has never and will never depend on the participation of a handful of extremely hostile ‘anti-racing’ groups. We don’t need to depend on the hate-mongers.” "

Refusing to work with groups that are hostile toward the industry and blatantly anti-racing is not the same as refusing to work with "any adoption groups who do not support racing". And a statement in an Iowa Greyhound Association newsletter isn't exactly a statement by the NGA. There are plenty of neutral groups that the industry is happy to work with and are even listed on the NGA's Endorsed Responsible Adoption Groups page. https://www.ngagreyhounds.com/Adopt

This article also continues to spread the myth that "40 states have banned dog racing". Another claim that is simply not true: http://arcicom.businesscatalyst.com/greyhound-racing.html

And in the final "FAQ" section, in answer to the question of "What Will Happen to the thousands of Greyhounds at tracks if dog racing is banned?" this article states:

"If Amendment 13 passes, it will become constitutional law immediately. However, the amendment includes a phase-out period, with the ban taking effect on July 1, 2020. During that time frame, dogs can gradually be placed by adoption groups into loving forever homes."

Despite pointing out in an earlier section that some casinos want to shut down their tracks to make more money on other forms of gambling, it ignores the fact that Amendment 13 would allow tracks to be closed after Dec 31, 2018, less than 2 months from the vote tomorrow. How exactly is this a "phase-out period", and how do they expect several thousand dogs to "gradually be placed by adoption groups" less than 2 months from now?

Finally, this article provides an entire list of references in an attempt to look legitimate. A closer look at those references shows that most of them are directly from GREY2K or other biased media articles that cite data either directly or indirectly from GREY2K, which is hardly an objective source of information. GREY2K is a political lobbying organization with ties to extremist animal rights groups. The couple that is behind GREY2K lives off of, and travels overseas, on the donations that people send to them, thinking they are helping greyhounds.

Anyone who has read and believes the propaganda in the GREY2K "High Stakes" document should also read the rebuttal "A Closer Look at High Stakes" for a more balanced view. https://www.facebook.com/download/preview/748757925460360

Perhaps the name of the site where this article was posted - "Straight Twist" - is accurate as so many of the facts are twisted and manipulated to fit their agenda.

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