August 16, 2014 § 1 Comment
…BECAUSE IT TRANSCENDS the other-gambling-options and the attacks-by-animal-rights-groups reasons for the decline of greyhound racing. Excerpted from the interview I filmed with her, animal researcher, scientist and published author Gay Bradshaw, PhD, PhD comments on the controversy and issues surrounding the greyhound racing community:
“[It’s] really a microcosm of what’s happening all over the world and in other aspects of our society. Right now we’re experiencing something that humanity has not experienced, at least in our known history. And that is this huge scientific and social revolution. Every single aspect of our culture and society, our social contracts have been based on human-animal differencing; that humans are fundamentally different than other animals. Now science has shown and documented that we’re all the same. People now realize that their dog and their cat has a mind and a heart just like them and has feelings. Now captivity and cultural institutions of captivity such as racing, such as zoos are really under question by the public.”
Dr. Bradshaw further suggests that greyhound racing, like many other animal-exploitive industries, is being rolled over–albeit at a glacial pace–by a tsunami that is the global animal rights/protection movement. If she’s correct, and her research indicates she is, then organizations opposed to dog racing like Grey2K USA, HSUS, PETA, ASPCA, GPL and others are simply riding that wave but are not its prime motivators. Rather, they are the deal closers, helping write policy and law as the humane movement renders no-longer-acceptable institutions obsolete and their participants politically impotent.
In my view, the greyhound racing industry and its members could have saved themselves a lot of trouble by addressing ALL the issues for which they were justifiably criticized when they were rolling in dough some 35+ years ago. Instead, they chose to do what many organizations do when faced with an enormous threat: They ignored it believing it would go away. And when it didn’t, they freaked out and blamed everything (other gambling options) and everyone (Grey2k, HSUS et al) but themselves. I believe the dog racing industry continues to waste a lot of precious time and resources attempting to discredit anti-racing and animal rights groups and individuals rather than setting out to reinvent their industry as a safe and humane venue for greyhound racing. Sorry folks, but you have only yourselves and your past and present leaders to blame for letting greed trump compassion, vision and common sense. A pox on Greed! It is one of the most destructive human-only traits, and few if any of us are immune to it. Anyone who claims they are speaks with forked tongue.
Today, every organization and the people who lead and inhabit them better be willing and able to adapt and do so in a hurry. The luckless folks who don’t or can’t are likely to sooner or later find themselves sitting on a park bench, out of options, arguing with the voices in their head.
I sincerely feel for some of the folks involved in greyhound racing, who must know deep down that their beloved way of life and how they make a living are in jeopardy; that they are finding themselves on the wrong side of history. That’s got to be a terrifying notion to have hanging over them every day and night. But don’t cuss me. I’m merely reporting what the statistics show and the prognostications of a seasoned, highly-respected greyhound breeder/owner, Wayne Strong, and a prominent, mince-no-words track owner, George Carney. Both seemed dead certain their predictions are correct. I suspect these two wise men also know that entire industries going extinct is nothing new.
Students of history know that any number of industries/organizations/trades/crafts and their members’ skill sets have passed into history over the centuries for a variety of reasons including technological advancements, changes in moral standards and perhaps even ongoing human and social evolution. Personally, I believe the human race continues to evolve in various ways and at various rates. Don’t agree? Watch one of those how-to-kill-animals-for-fun shows (aka hunter porn) on the Outdoor Channel and you’ll meet a human-like species that evolution clearly left behind.
Quite frankly, I share David Peck’s concern about what might happen to the greyhound breed after commercial dog racing in the U.S. goes extinct. David, one of the smartest and most conscientious racing greyhound breeders in the business, believes greyhounds could eventually go the way of many of the popular AKC/ Westminster Dog Show breeds regarding problems like hip dysplasia and other genetically-driven physical and mental defects. Dogs bred solely for conformation (body, leg and head shapes that conform to breed standards set by the AKC/Westminster Show) are often the offspring of parents whose bloodlines are too close (think inbreeding, British royalty). Puppy mill operators are notorious for such irresponsible practices. It would be tragic to lose the qualities that make for the smart, physically-impeccable racing and pet greyhounds. I have no idea how many distinct bloodlines exist among racing greyhounds in the U.S., but I hope there are hundreds.
Perhaps Zeus will hop off Mount Olympus, wade over here and grab the dog racing industry by the short hairs and make them change their ways before it’s too late. No lesser event is likely to sustain greyhound racing in the U.S. for more than a few more years. Furthermore, I hope that even those vehemently opposed to commercial dog racing would want these canine athletes to have a racing venue that is safe and humane, that satisfies their physical and psychological needs as companion animals, and that provides them life-long protection and comfort.
The personal opinions and criticisms that I have laid bare in this and the preceding two posts notwithstanding, watching those fantastic dogs flying down the straightaway is for me one hell of a rush. As a former drag racer and as an expression of engineering perfection, power and speed, seeing a greyhound with the pedal to the metal is to me a close second to the chest-pounding concussion of a Top Fuel dragster roaring down the strip at over 300 mph.
Thanks for taking the time to read this post. Your comments are welcome. And once again, if you would like to see this film completed and distributed ASAP, your large or small donation will help make that happen. If you do not want this film completed nor seen by millions, then the voices in your head will only get louder.
GREYHOUND: Racing Into The Light