interview given to Pet Levrieri by Christine Dorchak, President and General Counsel GREY2K USA Worldwide
We are pleased and honoured to publish an interview given to Pet Levrieri by Christine Dorchak, President and General Counsel GREY2K USA Worldwide
PL – What is the mission of GREY2K USA Worldwide?
CD – Formed in February 2001, GREY2K USA Worldwide is the largest greyhound protection organization in the United States. As a non-profit advocacy group we work to pass stronger greyhound protection laws and to end the cruelty of dog racing on both national and international levels. We also promote the rescue and adoption of greyhounds across the globe.
Greyhound racing is cruel and inhumane, and should be prohibited. GREY2K USA was the first organization to successfully outlaw dog racing using the ballot initiative process. In November 2008, the citizens of Massachusetts chose compassion over cruelty and voted 56-44% to close down Raynham and Wonderland Greyhound Parks. Since our formation, twenty-eight dog tracks have closed for live racing all across the country and the number of states with dog racing has been more than cut in half.
In recent years, GREY2K USA has been instrumental in fighting for stronger laws to protect racing greyhounds. In Massachusetts and New Hampshire, we successfully passed laws requiring that these states inform the public on the number of greyhounds injured while racing and report on the ultimate fate of racing dogs. Also in Massachusetts, we helped pass the first state-funded adoption trust fun in United States History. In Florida and New Hampshire, we passed legislation to restore greyhounds to the protections of anti-cruelty laws and in Kansas supported successful efforts to restore greyhounds to the definition of dogs in the state. Also in Florida, we worked with regulators to pass a new rule that greyhound deaths be reported within eighteen hours.
Please read more our web site here: http://grey2kusa.org/who/index.html
PL – What are your goals in 2015?
CD – We just passed a prohibition on dog racing in Colorado this year, and now we are focusing our domestic efforts in the states of Arizona and Florida. We are hopeful that our campaign to close down China’s only dog track, the Canidrome, will also succeed and we have just begun a lobbying campaign before the English Parliament to stop dog racing there. Of course, we will also continue to educate the public about commercial dog racing and promote greyhound adoption worldwide.
PL – What can people help?
CD – We welcome everyone to join us on facebook and share our alerts as widely as possible. The more people who learn about dog racing, the faster we will be able to end it. People across the world have also signed up to walk in parades and host education tables for the greyhounds. We invite everyone to “Take Action” by going to our web site here: http://grey2kusa.org/action/index.html.
PL – What changes have you seen since the start of your organization?
CD – Since our formation in 2001, the greyhound racing industry has been more than cut in half in the U.S.. Where there were nearly 50 tracks in 15 states at that time, today there remain just 21 tracks in seven states. One of these states is Florida and the Sunshine State has more dog tracks (at 12) then all other states combined. It was also the first state to legalize dog racing, in 1931. We are now working with track owners to end live racing, known as decoupling. They want to save dollars we want to save dogs. Read more on our Florida page here: http://grey2kusa.org/action/states/fl.html
Additionally, we have successfully fought to block the expansion of dog racing to new countries. Efforts to legalize dog racing in Jamaica (2009), the Philippines (2009), South Africa (2010, 2014) and Punjab, India have all failed.
PL – Greyhound dog racing has been banned or stopped from operating in 39 states. Why is there difficulty getting the remaining states to follow suit?
CD – Change is hard. In the past, greyhound racing seemed like a fun pastime. It has only been in the last several decades, thanks to increased education, that people have come to realize that dog racing is a losing proposition for the greyhounds involved. Even dogs that survive may be burdened for life with the injuries and social deprivation caused by the dog racing industry. When people meet greyhounds for themselves, they know this to be true. Greyhounds are their own best advocates!
Plus, if ending dog racing were easy, someone else would have done it!
Now that the public is increasingly aware of the cruelty involved with greyhound racing, it is time for real change to take hold. Young people are less and less attracted to be involved with this industry as patrons or otherwise. The trend is definitely with the greyhounds.
Please see information on this here: http://grey2kusa.org/action/states.html
PL – You are a specialist in this field and unfortunately have had to deal and hear too many horrible cases of animal cruelty surrounding the greyhound dog racing Industry. What is the worst case that you can recall that I could cite allowing the readers of my essay to understand greyhound racing needs to end?
CD – The everyday life of a greyhound in the racing world is what concerns me the most.
While racing, greyhounds are kept confined in warehouses, inside small, stacked cages barely large enough for them to stand up or turn around. According to U.S. agency records and industry statements, they stay in their cages for 20 hours or more each day. In Great Britain, greyhounds spend 95% of their time in confinement as well. There is little opportunity for them to socialize with each other or with their handlers during the very limited time they are let out each day.
Greyhounds are fed the poorest meat available, called “4D” by the USDA because it is the meat of downed, diseased, dying and dead livestock, deemed unfit for human consumption, and sold to the industry for a pittance. See more here: http://grey2kusa.org/pdf/GREY2K%20USA%204-D%20Meat%20Fact%20Sheet.pdf
When let out of their cages to race, dogs suffer the risk of serious injury. Records show that nearly 3,000 dogs were reported as injured at one track in West Virginia. In Massachusetts, a dog was injured every 3-4 days as long as racing continued, and similarly in New Hampshire, nearly 1,200 injuries were reported from 2005-2008. In Florida, a racing greyhound dies every three days. See more here: http://www.grey2kusa.org/pdf/FLdeaths.pdf
PL – When do you believe dog racing will be banned entirely from the U.S, how about worldwide?
CD – Dog racing will end very soon, due to the public’s increasing awareness about the injuries and deaths of racing greyhounds and the tax breaks and subsidies afforded this cruel industry. By way of example, the racing industry has been the beneficiary of tax breaks and special subsidies just to cover operating costs. In 2000, the year before GREY2K USA was formed, the legislature of Florida granted an annual $14 million tax reduction to the state’s tracks! Now lawmakers are looking to abolish live racing altogether. In Ireland, lawmakers there are now calling into question the millions that the country is spending to keep this cruel industry alive. Chinese officials have already ordered the removal of gambling machines from the Canidrome, another sign that dog racing interests are in growing disfavor. In England, revenues are down 43% since just 2006! Things are really changing for the better.
Gambling on greyhounds now represents less than 1% of wagers made each year in the U.S. Breeding for racing has been more than cut in half in the last few years, and national revenue has declined by more than 80% since 2001. The very home of dog racing is now rejecting the “sport” that it created. As Americans, we feel a special responsibility to end dog racing everywhere. You may read more about the decline of the industry overall here: http://www.grey2kusa.org/about/dying_industry.html
The question is not “if” dog racing will end, but “how soon!”