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The Abuse of Perception Part 1
By Dick Ciampa

I love greyhounds and support adoption of retired racers. I donate to adoption groups and toward hauls to move adoption-bound greyhounds where ever they need to go. I am a racing greyhound owner, and there are many, in fact most, who are just like me. We make sure our hounds are well cared for from birth to adoption.

Not long ago it looked like a failed adoption might go bad. When the racing kennel owner heard about the problem they moved heaven and earth to arrange to get the dog safely back. Ultimately the situation was resolved by the adoption group, but that owner knew, remembered, and cared deeply about the welfare of that hound. This kind of caring isn’t very newsworthy because it reflects the norm. Good news doesn’t sell.

Does any of this surprise you? Then you may know less about racing greyhound owners and caregivers than you think. What we think we know depends on the sources we depend on for information.

Who do you depend on? If you are skeptical regarding what I’ve just said, your source is probably an organization with a strong anti-racing stance, like Grey2K.

In spite of your skepticism, if you have an open mind, consider some of the following things.

Contrary to the perception carefully cultivated by self-interested fundraising campaigns, cases of wrongdoing are the exception. None are more outraged in such situations than those in the racing community itself. When a problem arises, those who discover it work with the proper authorities to ensure the situation is dealt with.

We do not simply lament the issue on the Internet, nor do we characterize an exception as the general rule. We take constructive action.

Since its inception 14 years ago, how many complaints has Grey2K, who constantly alleges abuse in their fundraising materials, filed with an animal control agency or with the National Greyhound Association? Ask them for a specific number.

If Grey2K is outraged by alleged mistreatment they claim to have observed, why haven’t they vigorously pursued it? After all, their organization’s president is a lawyer whose salary, along with her executive director husband’s is paid by donations from people who want to help greyhounds.

Have you ever considered why greyhounds in photos that appear in Grey2K material show little expression? Perhaps it is because they take advantage of how doe-eyed relaxed hounds look, or the sleepiness of a new greyhound mom.

Why are there no photos, among the many available, of pups being hugged and kissed by their owners, and held close by their children and grandchildren? Of pups growing strong, running and playing with their littermates, sharing common food bowls, jumping for joy when someone passes by?

Where are the photos of racers being massaged by their caregivers, being fed treats, and cuddled in their crates; photos of caregivers in tears when their hounds leave the kennel for another track or for a new life in adoption?

Those photos do not appear because they don’t work well with the endlessly repeated messages of greed and mistreatment that work so well in raising funds.

As a community we care about the welfare of animals, especially those we readily identify with, like the magnificent greyhounds so many of us have in our homes. The emotional bond that makes us to want to help a creature in distress leaves us vulnerable to impulse and manipulation by fundraising organizations. With emotions at the forefront, it is easy to discard the idea that we should do a little fact checking.

Most people do research before making a purchase or investment. Have you done any independent research about the lives of racing greyhounds, beyond what you are told by self-interested organizations with a Donate button on almost every website page?

Is the anti-racing organization you support confident enough to suggest you do some research of your own before sending them money?

It isn’t hard to do. Visit a farm or racing kennel. If you don’t want to go on your own, contact an adoption group that organizes visits, or can refer you to fact-based resources. Contrary to what you may believe, there are many adoption groups who work collaboratively with farms and kennels, and know first-hand how their hounds are treated.

If you can, visit a track, watch the post parade and see for yourself the magnificent condition of the greyhounds, then feel the exhilaration of watching them race for the lure. See the wagging tails at the end of the race, as the lead-outs come to collect them.

Eric Jackson, who is on the Grey2K Board of Directors, and indicated he had never been on a farm, was invited to visit one. The closest farm to him was a couple hundred miles away. He said it was too far to travel; however, he travelled from New Mexico to Florida for a Grey2K meeting.

I don’t know about you, but that leaves me shaking my head.

What those who take the trouble to learn will discover, is that people involved in racing are passionate, and driven by respect, admiration and love for their dogs. Contrary to the greed-motivated portrayal of organizations like Grey2K, racing greyhounds are not a primary source of income for most owners, and in fact for many it is a money losing hobby. Greyhound owners are as diverse as the folks reading this article. They are parents and grandparents, many are veterans, and they have jobs in all walks of life.

Many adopters discover their hound’s racing owner is thrilled to receive news of their retirees and happy to share information about their earlier lives. Friendships have formed starting with a simple enquiry, or a shared photo.

Before you condemn a group of people you don’t really know, please do a little research of your own. As a greyhound owner, I urge you to, I want you to. Does the organization you are relying on for information ask you to do the same? If not, doesn’t it beg the question, why not?

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