The following is forwarded on behalf of Gary Guccione, Communications Coordinator, American Greyhound Council, in response to a recent column written by Boston Globe columnist Derrick Z. Jackson. The column, which was syndicated and published in other newspapers, drew an egregiously unfair parallel between Michael Vick’s crimes and the legal, regulated sport of Greyhound racing. Boston Globe story.
It is disturbing that Michael Vick’s misguided participation in illegal and inhumane dog fighting has become a pretext for attacking responsible, legal animal use industries.
Boston Globe writer Derrick Z. Jackson’s recent column comparing Greyhound racing to illegal dog fighting was completely lacking in fairness or balance, and grossly unfair to the Greyhound racing community. It read more like radical propaganda than thoughtful commentary.
The legal and highly regulated Greyhound racing industry takes its responsibilities seriously, as animal stewards as well as taxpaying employers. Greyhound racetracks employed almost 15,000 people and paid almost $272 million in taxes in 2006, according to an annual report released earlier this week by the American Greyhound Track Operators Association (AGTOA). The annual payroll of these tracks was more than $194 million; spent nearly $357 million on goods and services.
Through the American Greyhound Council (AGC), Greyhound track operators, breeders and trainers have invested more than $7 million in recent years on Greyhound health and welfare programs ranging from breeding farm inspections to canine bone cancer research, veterinary symposia and web-based Greyhound health resources. The industry spends over $1.4 million annually to support Greyhound adoption activities.
It is in the Greyhound welfare area that Derrick Jackson’s column was most egregiously unfair. Intentionally or not, Jackson apparently allowed himself to be used as a tool by the Greyhound Protection League (GPL), an extreme organization that has become famous for its hysterical condemnation of Greyhound racing without regard to the facts.
The vast majority of people in Greyhound racing are in the business because they love Greyhounds and are fully committed to responsible animal care. In the rare cases where industry members are found guilty of serious animal welfare violations, they are banned from the sport for life, and other industry members are prohibited from doing business with them. Few other fields, including journalism, deal with ethical violations so harshly.
Fortunately, groups like GPL are becoming increasingly marginalized, as mainstream animal welfare groups recognize the benefits of cooperation with the racing community for the benefit of the Greyhounds. The American Greyhound Council and individual tracks across the U.S. work side by side with hundreds of adoption groups around the country to find loving homes for retired Greyhounds.
Thanks to these joint efforts, more than 90 percent of all registered Greyhounds are either adopted or returned to the farm as pets or breeders when they retire. That’s a success story your readers will never hear from GPL or Mr. Jackson.
Sincerely, Gary Guccione