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Dairyland again

November 22, 2009

Okay, upon consideration, I am afraid that my recent posts about the DGP (Dairyland Greyhound Park) situation may have seemed to be defending greyhound racing, and may have given the impression that this track closing is nothing to worry about.  So I’d like to clarify.

As I’ve said before, email forward notwithstanding, it is NOT the case that 900 DGP dogs will be killed by the end of 2009. But…

Here’s the deal.  Wisconsin has a law that racing dogs need to either be moved into WI Dept of Gaming approved adoption groups (MNGR is one) or turned over to their registered racing owners.  The thing about the latter is that the racing owners can do whatever they want with them.  Racing owners are not like pet owners, in the majority of cases.  The dogs are investments, not family members.  To the extent that anyone in racing cares about the dogs as living things, it’s more often the trainers and kennel hands that work with them on a daily basis, and not the registered owners.  But the owners have the final say-so over what happens to the dogs.  Everyone involved in greyhound rescue and adoption has certainly heard stories of owners who shoot their dogs in the head upon arrival.  Or turn them over to some nice guy like Robert Rhodes of Alabama.

So, among the things that could happen to the DGP dogs are: They get moved to adoption groups nationwide (which, while it puts a huge strain on the adoption community’s limited resources, is what we all hope happens to the majority of them), they get sent to their racing owners (some with good endings, some not), or they get “bookings” at other racetracks such as JCKC in Florida.

What happens when they get sent to Florida? Well, they take up kennel spots in Florida, and push the less successful racers out. Florida has no law, like Wisconsin does, about not killing greyhounds. So guess what happens to the Florida racers who can’t make it into groups right away? And guess what happens to the DGP dogs once they are not competitive at the Florida tracks?

And, what happens when the flood of DGP dogs moves into greyhound rescue groups nationwide? Almost without exception, greyhound rescue groups nationwide are ALL continually operating at or beyond their capacity in order to save as many as they can. None of them has a shortage of dogs; all have a continual source from groups near them or via hauls from the overflowing Florida tracks. So when those groups commit to taking DGP dogs, the DGP dogs fill up adoption spots in those groups that would’ve been filled by other dogs.

Well, to some extent, we hope that the publicity on the track closing will spark an increase in people donating and adopting hounds. So some of the excess will hopefully be absorbed that way. Groups that I have spoken with have reported that when a nearby racetrack has closed, they can experience about a 4-fold increase in applications. Many are not candidates (they want a hunting dog, for example). And many of these people may be adopting out of pity or without careful thought and research, leading to a sizable chunk of those dogs ultimately getting returned to the adoption groups through no fault of their own.

So. It is FALSE that 900 DGP dogs will be euthanized by the end of the year if not adopted. There are not that many dogs at the track. WI law will not allow them to be summarily euthanized. It will not do anyone any good to make a bunch of angry phonecalls to DGP. Many of the dogs have bookings at other tracks, and many will be sent back to their owners. Adoption groups are pulling together to accomodate as many of the remaining “adoptable” dogs as they are able. BUT this does not mean that the closing at DGP will not result in additional greyhound deaths.

Does this mean that the closing is a bad thing? Not in the slightest! One less racetrack in operation means less demand for greyhound breeding. Fewer dogs born each year into racing is great news. The closing at DGP may have serious consequences in the short term, but in the long term the closing will prevent the deaths of many.

In the short term, we all need to do our best to get as many of the DGP dogs into good homes as possible: Adopt! Volunteer! Donate!

To see just a bit of the reason we want to see racing end, check out the Greyhound Protection League. In particular, check out this page of press releases on greyhound abuse cases. And in case you missed it the first time, see this post for a video on racing.

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