Column - Greyhound racing should be illegal
Published: Thursday, March 8, 2012
Updated: Friday, March 9, 2012 08:03
Greyhound racing in West Virginia should be stopped in an effort to save dogs from confinement, cruelty and possible death from injuries or euthanization.
West Virginia is one of seven states that still allows greyhound racing, according to GREY2K USA, a national organization dedicated to protecting greyhounds and fighting against dog racing.
The majority of greyhounds are bred to race, and the first 18 months of their lives are their career in racing. While many states, including West Virginia, have retired greyhound rescue shelters, the breed shouldn't be subjected to racing for entertainment.
Sporting greyhounds spend the beginning of their lives typically under poor conditions and may be seriously injured or killed while racing. When they can no longer compete, they are usually euthanized if injured beyond help or cannot find a home. Dogs usually are retired after six years – if they make it that long without injury.
The sport is endangering and cruel to the animals. In 2010, animal welfare organizations became concerned with the number of dog injuries that resulted in death at the Wheeling Island Hotel-Casino-Racetrack in Wheeling, W.Va.
According to GREY2K USA, in 2008-09 more than 700 dogs suffered injuries due to racing. And while there are thousands of dogs that come through the industry, the number of dogs injured at a single track in a year is not surprising. Since then, the racetrack has tried to make amends and invest in the safety of the dogs, but as long as gambling on dog racing continues, there will still be deaths.
The Associated Press reported in 2010 the Wheeling racetrack built a new surface for the dogs to run on and resulted in 41 injuries, 22 of which were broken legs.
More recently, an article in the New York Times said the races in other states are losing money because owners of greyhounds are required to keep the dogs running six days a week. For example, the Horseshoe Council Bluffs casino in Council Bluffs, Iowa, which includes Bluffs Run Greyhound Park, is struggling to keep up operations on a sport that fewer people are engaging in.
While greyhound racing does bring in revenue for the state of West Virginia, it's unfair for the dogs to continue racing.
The two racetracks in West Virginia, the other being in Nitro, W.Va., have consistently reported multiple injuries a year to the dogs. Injuries are a part of the sport, which sometimes ends in euthanasia for a dog that could otherwise be saved. But, what reason is there to support a sport that is cruel?
In the 2011 West Virginia gubernatorial campaign, Republican Bill Maloney had said he wanted to eliminate the Greyhound Breeding Development Fund, which distributes racetrack video lottery profits to greyhound breeders to further encourage the sport.
Maloney criticized current governor, Earl Ray Tomblin, over the fund because he claimed Tomblin helped a Logan County kennel run by Tomblin's mother and brother receive $2.5 million, which Tomblin called the allegations "totally false."
The state should not be giving money to foster greyhound breeding; it only fuels the inhumane sport, and it's taxpayer dollars going into the industry.
While the majority of greyhound breeders and racers follow the letter of the law (since dog racing in W.Va. is legal and profitable), the industry should cease to exist in the U.S.
It's disappointing to see lawmakers aren't doing anything to regulate the cruel sport and the state is fueling the breeding of greyhounds.
The cruelty of the sport, legal or not, outweighs the money coming in from the races.