Readers of this blog have already met these tireless advocates for animal rights, Twig Mowatt in a guest post on how to photograph your dog and Karyn Zoldan… well, she and her diva greyhound Lily have turned up here many times, most recently for Lily’s 12 1/2 birthday party. So far, Karyn and Twig have only met virtually, but that will change, because Karyn just joined the board of GREY2K USA, which Twig is on. Since I know both of them (Twig virtually), I invited them to come here to share a bit of greyhound education.
And of course adorable greyhound pictures.
Here’s Twig, the board veteran, interviewing Karyn, the new board member:
Do you have a greyhound as a pet? What kind of pet does he/she make?
I adopted my first greyhound, Painter, in 1998. He stole my heart and turned my life upside down in a good way. In 1999, I failed at fostering by adopting my foster dog, Lily. She’s still with me 10.5 years later. Greyhounds are like big cats, but they’re also love sponges. Lily makes me laugh every day and sometimes cry–when she chews my favorite shoes. (It’s my fault, because I’m a slob and forget to put them away.)
What is wrong with greyhound racing? How did you find out about these problems?
In 2000, I moved with my hounds to Arizona, where, at the time, there were two racetracks. It wasn’t until I lived in a racing state that I became so aware of the ills associated with greyhound racing. Greyhounds are confined to small cages 20-22 hours a day, fed substandard meat that even the FDA does not condone, and indiscriminately shot up with anabolic steroids. Just last month two hounds in Alabama were found to have cocaine in their system. Dogs break their legs and necks. Dogs are electrocuted. Dogs die. That’s what’s wrong with greyhound racing. This kind of exploitation wouldn’t happen to golden retrievers or Portuguese water dogs.
In Tucson, there is lots of news coverage about what happens at the tracks, and most greyhound adopters are in the know. As the Internet has grown, so has our exposure to greyhound racing horrors. Dog bless the Internet.
What is being done to end racing?
To some degree, it is winding down on its own accord as other, more immediate, forms of gambling gratification have come into being. The people who actually still go to the track are aging quickly. The bad economy also took a toll, as has the general lack of racing industry accountability to monitor the whereabouts of dogs after their last race. Fortunately, there’s a whole new generation who grew up watching Animal Planet, being exposed to racing horrors, and rescuing these gentle dogs.
What is the situation in your state?
In Arizona, there is now only one dog track and it’s in South Tucson. It has been riddled with problems and received bad press through the years on topics that include: atrocious kennel conditions; dogs dying on their way to race in Juarez, Mexico; 150-plus missing greyhounds; and euthanizing a greyhound with an easily treatable injury, when two adoption groups were on their way and one was already on the premises to save her. Worse, more than 450 greyhounds were reported as injured, too sick, or too hurt to race at two Arizona tracks in 2008. (Phoenix Greyhound Park closed Dec. 19, 2009.)
What gives you hope?
I’m hopeful because the trend is that tracks are closing. More than half of the nation’s greyhound tracks have closed for lack of business in the past three decades. Four tracks closed in 2009 alone. Even a lot of the track owners want to get out of the business because they are losing money. A former kennel operator said he thought greyhound racing would be over by 2014. He’s a smart guy; I hope he’s right. Whenever I wear a greyhound t-shirt or take my dog out, strangers come up to me and say, “I can’t believe we still have greyhound racing here. What can we do to make it go away?” These people become my new best friends.
What can an individual do to help end racing?
People can help by speaking the truth, not being silent or neutral; ditto for adoption groups. Take your greyhounds out in public. Aside from telling others what great pets they make, hand out brochures, write to your legislators demanding the end of greyhound racing, sign up for advocacy alerts, and donate to groups like GREY2K USA that are trying to end greyhound racing. Have a yard sale, eBay auction, or donate your etsy art items to groups trying to end racing. Take a stand and speak out!
What is GREY2K USA doing to end racing?
A great deal. Although there are other advocacy groups, few have had as much success ending racing. GREY2K USA banned greyhound racing in Massachusetts as of 2010 through a voter initiative in which compassion won over cruelty by 56% to 44%. The group is at the forefront of defeating attempts to prop up greyhound racetracks with subsidies, other forms of gambling, and special favors for politicians. They talk to legislators and hire lobbyists to get bills and laws passed. They also educate the public about racing exploitation and spread the word to promote adoption efforts.
The opposition (tracks, breeders) says that people who oppose racing are all animal rights lunatics…..what’s the real story?
They say a lot of things. I’m okay with being called a lunatic if it means saving greyhounds’ lives.
Karyn Zoldan found love at first sight hound. Since then she has been involved in greyhound adoption, wearing many hats as a past board member for Arizona Greyhound Rescue. In May 2010, she was honored to be invited to join the GREY2K USA’s board. Karyn is also one of seven Beading Divas, who craft original bracelets to support animal charities. When greyhound racing ends, this committed greyhound advocate intends to sit back and eat bonbons. Please contact her at karyn@Grey2KUSA.org
Twig Mowatt is a freelance journalist and pet portrait artist, whose work helps support various animal welfare causes including international spay and neuter efforts, Puerto Rican dog rescue, and ending greyhound racing. Secretary and board member of Grey2K USA, she found out about the organization after writing a feature article on greyhound racing for The Bark in 2003