Letter to the Editor

BY DI READERS | APRIL 14, 2011 7:20 AM

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Time for greyhound racing to end

Kirsten Jacobsen’s April 11 column about a bill that would allow Iowa’s dog tracks to stop holding live races is largely accurate.

Not every state that doesn’t have a dog track has prohibited racing. Some have never had tracks, and in some others, the tracks have closed of their own accord. The writing is on the wall; only a fool would think of opening, or reopening, a greyhound track.

If Iowa’s dog racing industry operates the way it does in other states, its 1,300 jobs are mostly part-time, and virtually all of them are low-paying, dead-end positions. Eliminating them will be a blow to some families, to be sure, but in most cases will not take away afamily’s whole income.

Finally, it is not the case that the 10 percent of greyhounds destroyed annually are killed mostly because of temperament or physical injuries. The breed as a whole is mild-mannered and flexible enough to transition easily to the life of a pet dog. However, some dogs are treated so inhumanely during their racing careers that they are emotionally traumatized, with considerable patience and expertise needed to rehabilitate their psyches. Others have injuries that could be treated, but only at considerable expense — which the racing kennels refuse to undertake.

Fracture or rupture of the right ankle is the most common career-ending injury. It is caused by the centrifugal force on the narrow bones of this joint during the tight turns of the oval track. In the dog, surgery can cost more than $2,000 and recovery takes at least two months. Unless a greyhound is exceptionally valuable in a breeding program or a shelter can pay for the treatment, the trainer or owner will have the dog put down.

As a longtime greyhound adopter and rescue volunteer, the possibility of ending the races is wonderful news. If a similar bill is passed in Florida, it is likely that dog racing will be a thing of the past by the end of this decade.

Erica Mueller
Billerica, Ma.

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