I’m taking a pause today from writing about the antics of my kitties, to write about something bigger that truly affects all of us in the US, much less all over the world. The subject is not a pretty one. It is animal cruelty.
The subject of cruelty seems to be hitting the mainstream more and more what with the reporting done by ABC on the plight of the American Dairy Cow. You can read about it and watch the footage at this link here. http://abcnews.go.com/Blotter/animal-rights-us-dairy-industry/story?id=9658866 Be forwarned. The video is very graphic and I had to stop watching not long after starting it The point that this article and footage makes to me, is just how much animal cruelty is intertwined within our society. Many of us tend to be kinda like the ostrich with its head in the sand: ignorrance is bliss, and as long as I DON’T know about it, I can’t be held responsible.
The really heatbreaking factor of animal cruetly, is that there’s so much to choose from when it comes to the general subject matter. You could talk about the dairy industry, or the commercial farming industry as a whole, actually, or could choose pit bull fighting as your subject matter. And there’s always plenty of animal testing STILL going on today to really get a discussion going.
Because I own a “retired racer”, I choose to use greyhound racing as my subject matter for getting my point across. Perhaps not in it’s “heyday” anymore like it was, greyhound racing still goes on in several states located both in the north and south. Many adoption groups have been developed to redirect the hounds for rescue, but still far too many are winding up in animal testing labs; being starved, beaten, and tortured while they are forced to continue to race.
In December of 2000, I adopted Greta from a greyhound rescue group out of Colorado Springs, Co. She was not quite 3 years old and was scared to death of me when I went to pick her up. The facility for the greyhound rescue group was on the grounds of the racing track in Colorado Springs. The owners of the track donated one of it’s buildings specifically for the purpose of boarding the retired racers. (The Colorado Springs Track Owners were an acception to the rule and worked hand in hand with the local rescue group. A year or 2 after adopting Greta, the track closed and with it closed the nonprofit rescue group for the dogs).
When we walked into the kennel, the barking was deafening. There were two rows of kennels on each side of the room, with one row on top of the other. The building was actually proportioned out into 2 rooms of equal size with 36 kennels per room, so there was actually a total of 72 dogs being boarded in this one facility alone!!! (There was more than one boarding facility located on the track grounds as well so one can only imagine just exactly how many dogs total were actually on the grounds that day!)
Each half of the kennel had a second door into a large fenced area. This entire area was set up like a shallow sand box, which made cleaning up after the dogs easier. Dogs would be turned out for exercise and to relieve themselves. Their indoor kennel was a fenced in area that was large enough for each dog to eat, rest, and turn around in comfortably.
The representative of the rescue group that was working with me, had informed me that “Rosie” as they called her, had not taken to racing and so that was why she had come up for adoption at such an early age. She went to a lower level pen, opened the door, and attached a leash to the dog’s collar. The greyhound was absolutely pretrified of me, and you could see the fear in her eyes. Me and a friend that accompanied me that day, took “Rosie” outside so that we could spend some time with her without all the dogs barking inside. Plus, me and the rescue representative could speak to each other alote easier.
Standing next to me was a large white greyhound with red ticking (that’s what they call red spots) and HUGE brown eyes that were absolutely petrified. (Greta was named for Greta Garbo the actress because of her huge expressive eyes). I didn’t know it then, but she was also underweight-a common practice in the racing industry so that they were lighter and sprinted faster. I did happen to notice that the tip of the her last rib on the right side, was sticking out. I inquired if it had ever been broken,etc., to which the rep responded no that was just the way she was born. I agreed to adopt Greta, finished the required paperwork and placed her in the car with my other dog Keehta who went with me on the trip. Neither dog had aggression issues and so the introduction was a simple one. After picking up Greta, I would be leaving directly for home as a huge storm was moving into the mountains and I wanted to get ahead of it as much as possible.
Upon arriving at home, it quickly became apparent that Greta didn’t even know how to be a “dog”. This she learned from my other pooch Keehta. Over the months, Greta would learn to show happiness, act silly, “enjoy” toys, even bark! Housebreaking Greta took about a week. Pretty quick for a pup that had never even been in a house before!
At our first visit to the vet for Greta, I learned that she was underweight, and that the last rib that protruded from her side had been broke at some point, and no one ever bothered to have it set. The vet encouraged me to let Greta eat as much as she wanted. Being underfed, is something that would haunt Greta for the rest of her life. She would constantly eat too fast, overeat and sometimes even vomit it back up because of how fast she was eating. This was something we had to work on, slowly over the days. Greta also had nervous ticks and developed anxiety whenever I left and would eat anything and everything while I was gone, so crate training her became necessary as well, which I hated, because she had spent so much time in her previous lifestyle being contained. But unlike racing training, her crate became a refuge for her and she would even sleep in it at times when I was home, with the door open.
Greta would also have nightmares. She would start bellowing/screaming in the middle of the night, legs moving like she was trying to get away from something. Over the years, these nightmares would subside in frequency and eventually disappear.
For many of Greta’s ailments, time was the key factor in her healing.
During other visits, my visit would continue to inform me of the hardships racing greyhounds deal with on a daily basis, not only were they almost constantly kept crated so that their energy levels would build up for racing, but they were often fed in a trough system in which the most aggressive dogs would get the most to eat; the shyer, more submissive personalities having to settle for seconds or nothing at al.
From birth, the dogs were seen as an imvestment, and if the dogs didn’t do well soon after their puppyhood, they would wind up destroyed, beaten, shot or whatever means were used to “get rid” of the dog. Puppies born with anything that was considered a birth defect, were immediately destroyed. Too shy of personality could even be considered a “defect” and reason for being destroyed.
Like many animals that are used in an “industry” the priority of the breeders and owners, is to make whatever money they can off of their investment. Sadly, this can lead to a variety of cruelty and neglectful treatment in attempts to get what they want from the dog(s). Many will argue that if they dogs weren’t treated well, they wouldn’t race. This is incorrect. Greyhounds are natural site hounds, and it’s part of their nature to pursue. So even the most neglected and starved, will still try to pursue a “tease”.
I’m sure someone somewhere out there will be wanting to share their difference of opinion concerning the industry, however, I give as proof several investigations that have been conducted by the Greyhound Protection League. You can find their website at www.greyhounds.org, but what influenced me even more, was what I experienced when I adopted Greta.
I always give all my pets a middle name, and it’s usually awhile after I’ve had them, that that middle name comes to mind. For Greta, her middle name revealed itsself to be Saint. This dog, despite all she’d been thru, and who was even scared of children even to this day, has one of the most sweetest natures of any dog I’ve known. I will always have a place in my home for a retired racer, and everything that Greta has taught ME will make me a better person!