Monday, October 27, 2008

doggies and babies and ballots, oh my!

My sister's baby shower was a hit. Cara did a phenomenal job with the decorating and planning - it was gorgeous! Cal got most of the stuff that she needed and suffered through hours of opening gifts gallantly. At least it felt like hours and hours.

Baby showers are sooooo not my thing. Elissa's was cool, but that's because it wasn't typical at all. It was more of a rock star themed shower than an actual baby shower. I mean, how can you not love a shower where the gifts included a Misfits newborn T and lots of tiny clothes with skulls and crossbones on them?

I sucked it up and did the big sister thing and the writing down the gift thing. It was a really, really long day. The good part is that I have plenty of leftovers from the party and won't have to cook at all this week. That's one of the good things about being a bachelorette - everyone sends you home with food. :)

I've been looking into the propositions on the ballot this year. I like to think I'm a somewhat educated voter - at least I try to be. I found a site ( that gives a great breakdown of what the measure is, as well as what the pros are, who's for it, what the cons are and who's against it. A layman's description of the political jibberish used to write them.

Anyway, the Greyhound Protection Act, or the 3rd question puts me between a rock and a hard place... big time.

At first glance, it would appear to be a very good thing. Who wouldn't want to save dogs that appear to be mistreated. For dog lovers everywhere, it's a no-brainer. At least, it's a no-brainer if you don't think about it.

I'm actually going to vote No on this measure. Most people that know me are completely shocked by that and can not for the life of them understand why. My life revolves around my dogs - nothing on this planet is more important to me than my dogs. So let me see if I can explain my reasoning.

While keeping in mind that there are two sides to a story and each side will only highlight what they feel backs up their side, I play devil's advocate to see if I can see the real issue. The Pro-3 faction says they're confined for 20+ hours a day. Does that mean they're in a crate for 20+ hours a day? I don't think so, otherwise they would've said crated for 20+ hours a day. So, they could be in a fenced in area or in an expen or in a room or building. Please tell me what the difference is between that and what happens when dogs are boarded in a kennel. How about in a shelter, what's the difference there?

How about at my house? No matter where the the dogs are, they are confined. They're either in their crates, in the house, or in the fenced in yard. I don't let them run free and terrorize society. I don't let them poop on other people's lawns while they go about doing whatever they want. I don't let them get into a situation where they could fight with other dogs, chase small animals and cats into the street to be hit by cars. Even when we go out for a walk, they're confined by the leash. I'm not seeing a large difference.

Another argument is that they suffer serious injuries. They're right, they do suffer serious injuries, the same injuries that happen in everyday life. Millie gets a sprain once a year from running on uneven ground. Tweak will dig a hole that Millie doesn't know about and when she gets the zoomies, she's not looking for new holes, she's just racing around because she wants to. Injury is a part of life, aren't I a freakin' clumsy walking billboard for pete's sake? Do the dogs get the care required to heal them? Or are they left there, untreated and in pain?

Side note: Nobody can question why a dog is euthanized because one will never agree with the other. Being in rescue for the past 10 years I've had to euthanize dogs that I would've preferred not to. Sometimes it's a quality of life issue, sometimes a safety issue, sometimes one of a billion other reasons. So I'm not even considering this when thinking about the measure.

Moving on, another reason they use as justification is mysterious illnesses. They don't go into any more detail than that so I have no idea what's so mysterious about the illness. Pulling a situation from my own life, I'm sure kennel cough would be a mysterious illness if you didn't know what it was. How about that time of year when the flyball community goes through the kennel cough warnings and teams pull out of tournaments left and right to prevent it from becoming an epidemic? It's contagious, maybe that's mysterious. Since they give me no other information to go by, this weak argument gets a weak defense.

I feel like I'm rambling so I'll get to the point. For me, I don't want to open a door that could potentially cause any kind of timed, fast-paced dog sport to become illegal. My dogs live for flyball - I found it because Freddie needed a job, not because I needed something to do. To take it away from him because other people see very little difference between greyhound racing and flyball is just plain mean. The key here is perception, not fact. We've already been turned away from certain venues because "dog racing" wasn't allowed in that city. It didn't say Greyhound racing, it said dog racing, which is exactly the same language used in the this ballot measure.

Anything considered "dog racing" has the potential to be shut down if someone doesn't like it and can show any kind of correlation between the new law and the sport. So if you think I'm cruel to run my dogs in flyball, you can bitch, moan and complain that I'm "dog racing" and goodbye flyball in Massachusetts. If someone dislikes the height of the A frame and thinks it's dangerous, goodbye agility. Anything timed and fast could be subject to this ruling. No more herding trials, they're timed. Goodbye disc dog competitions, timed and fast. See you later flyball, agility, lure coursing, bikejoring, earthdog trials, jack racing, weight pulling, mushing, scootering, dock diving, etc., etc.

At a federal level, it could make the Iditarod a thing of the past. Seriously.

Can you imagine what would happen to high-energy dogs if they didn't have a job to do and running around of any kind was forbidden? Good lord I'd go batty (!) as would my dogs. Some dogs need a job and since I can't afford to sell my house, move up north and buy a farm so Tweak has sheep to herd, we're stuck with conventional dog sports.

So, as much as I love Greyhounds, I'm voting No on this measure. I think the potential for this ballot to open a door that shouldn't be opened is far too high to take the chance. I think perception and interpretation of the law would cause far more harm than good. "Dog racing" is far too broad and in a world where perception is key, I'm not willing to take the chance that you not liking flyball could force it to be illegal in this state.

Instead, I'd like to deal with the issue at hand. Make sure the Greyhounds that are racing have proper food, water, exercise, vet care and shelter. Punish the groups that don't provide, at the very least, the basic requirements to care for the animals - like we do with hoarders when we find out about them.

Getting ready to defend my thoughts,



Carey Theil said...


Actually, the dogs are in fact caged for at least 20 hours per day. You can see photographs of the cages that were taken by Wonderland Greyhound Park itself in 2006 here:

Regarding the "mystery illness," it was actually a form of horse flu that had never before jumped species. This illness caused 19 dogs to die at Wonderland Greyhound Park in one month.

Finally, Question 3 would only phase out dog racing where gambling occurs. It would not affect any other activities.

Carey Theil
Yes on 3 Campaign

Dawn said...

Carey -

I'm not disagreeing that they shouldn't be kept in a crate for 20 hours a day, but that's not what that site says.

I'm unsure what I'm supposed to be seeing in the photographs you wanted me to look at. I see one dog in a crate with newspaper as bedding and the rest being held by a person. If I take a picture of my dogs in their crates, would someone start an initiative on me?

I'm not even trying to be a wise ass here, I'm completely serious. What am I supposed to see in those photos that should make me want to ban a sport so completely in this state?

Thank you for clearing up the "mystery illness." I'm unsure of what the connection is between racing and a new cross-species flu but ok. 19 dogs dying from the flu is terrible, you'll get no arguments from me on that one. However, I'm going to ask what that has to do with the actual act of racing and refer back to the last paragraph in my blog.

Finally, I'll ask you if you remember when the state wanted to make it mandatory that everyone in a car wear seat belts. We the people stood up and said No! We agree it's best for the children but let's leave it at that! There were petitions, ballots, etc. The voice of the people was heard and the law was changed so that just children under a certain age had to wear them. What's the law today? Even though We the people stood up multiple times since then, the law was changed for our best interest and adults are ticketed if they aren't wearing their seat belts.

We shouldn't have opened that door. We shouldn't open this door.

Do you catch my drift?

You can say Yes on 3 but I'm saying No opinion.

Sarah said...

actually, I agree with you, Dawn. I'm no fan of greyhound racing, but just because I don't like it doesn't mean that it shouldn't exist.

If animals are being mistreated, then *that* is what should be addressed. I doubt the greyhounds have an issue with the actual running.

Also, I have to question how all of these dogs are in crates for 20 hours. If that's the case, I'm going to buy myself a greyhound and win all the time, because I'll actually make sure it gets regular workouts, is cared for like an athlete, etc. I somehow doubt that an animal that is caged 20 hours a day is able to perform at it's highest capacity and SOMEONE would have figured that out by now and be cleaning up at the track with dogs who are treated better.

I could be wrong for sure, but that makes sense to me - I know my dogs who are "confined" (meaning inside the house) for the better part of winter due to icy conditions can't run the way they can during the summer months when they are going on hikes, running every day and outside all the time.

Dawn said...

You bring up a good point Sarah. I know what kind of exercise and training my dogs need to perform at their highest level. It wouldn't be possible if they were couch potatoes.

Can you imagine what Moose would do on a greyhound track? Good lord!

Again, my opinion is that we should focus on caring for the dogs, enforcing their care is number one. I understand that this measure, as it stands, is only if there is gambling associated with it. That doesn't mean it will be the same tomorrow, regardless of what you voted for.

Make sure you wear your seat belt.