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Amendments would result in healthier, happier greyhounds

Racing greyhounds are kept in small cages in windowless rooms approximately 23 hours a day.

Racing greyhounds are kept in small cages in windowless rooms approximately 23 hours a day.

Editor’s note: The Tucson Dog Protection Act will be on the ballot only within the city of South Tucson. Tom Taylor, CEO and general manager of Tucson Greyhound Park, was invited to meet with the Tucson Citizen Editorial Board to discuss the initiative and to write a Guest Opinion explaining why he opposes it. He declined and said no one in the dog racing industry would comment or write about the measure.

We ask all South Tucson voters to vote “yes” on Proposition 401, the Tucson Dog Protection Act.

The proposal would do three simple things but would make a huge difference in the lives of more than 500 dogs at Tucson Greyhound Park.

Racing greyhounds are kept in small cages in windowless rooms approximately 23 hours a day.

They are let out four times each day to eliminate, then are quickly put back into their cages until the next turn out.

Proposition 401 would require dogs to be kept in these cages for no more than 18 hours a day unless a veterinarian determined it medically necessary.

The measure would allow the dogs more time to stretch their legs and socialize with other dogs.

Contrary to what dog track officials say, the measure would not put dogs outside in hot weather for six hours.

Enclosed structures with shade and water, or misters, could be used. Or the track could build air-conditioned rooms such as the areas you see at PetSmart for dogs to play and exercise.

Time outside cages could be used in early mornings or after sunset in hot weather, just as responsible dog owners do.

On another issue, racing greyhounds are fed a diet of raw meat commonly known as “4D.”

This meat is from animals that have died from unknown causes and from those that are dying, diseased or unable to walk at the time of slaughter.

This meat contains antibiotics and drugs fed to sick animals.

Both the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the Food and Drug Administration strongly recommend against feeding this raw meat to dogs, because it carries bacteria such as salmonella, E. coli, listeria and shigella, all of which can make dogs very sick.

Also troubling is the fact that contaminated raw meat products fed to household pets have been the source of disease outbreaks in the United States and Canada.

Dogs frequently carry these diseases without showing any signs of illness, but they shed the bacteria in their saliva and their waste.

There is no way to know how many of these hundreds of greyhounds eating this contaminated meat are carriers of diseases that can infect people.

Scientific studies have found that as much as 80 percent of raw 4D greyhound diets are contaminated by salmonella, the FDA reports.

These diseases are particularly dangerous to pregnant women, young children, the elderly and people with compromised immune systems.

Dog handlers can easily spread bacteria to others after handling the meat, the dogs and their waste.

Proposition 401 simply does what the government health agencies strongly recommend. It requires that this meat be cooked to eliminate the threat of illness to dogs and people.

Finally, Proposition 401 would stop the dangerous practice of giving dogs anabolic steroids.

These drugs are the same type abused by athletes and cause the same types of health problems in dogs as in people.

The racing industry gives female greyhounds testosterone, a male hormone, to prevent them from coming into heat.

Steroids start when the female dogs still are developing and continue throughout their racing careers.

Giving females male hormones can cause permanent genital abnormalities that often require painful and costly surgery to fix.

Females can suffer incontinence, painful burning from retained urine, and uncontrollable dermatitis as a result.

In addition, testosterone, whether given to males or females, can cause aggression, which gives an “edge” to dogs on steroids, thereby skewing race results, just as it would with human athletes.

For hundreds of years, greyhounds have raced without these dangerous and unnecessary drugs. Owners can simply segregate the sexes when the females are in season, as responsible dog owners and breeders do.

Tucson Greyhound Park is right that these modest measures would cost some money. Abuse and neglect are always cheaper and less responsible.

The dog track’s out-of-state owners made $4.9 million last year, however.

And they paid no pari-mutuel taxes to the state of Arizona on those profits. Why? Because dog tracks lobbied for and won generous tax breaks from the Arizona Legislature.

More than 100 Arizona veterinarians have endorsed Proposition 401.

Its supporters are betting that the good people of South Tucson believe in humane treatment of dogs, and we ask that they vote “yes” for the dogs.

Susan R. Via is a retired federal prosecutor and former Vermont deputy health commissioner who now heads the Tucson Dog Protection initiative, which will be on the Nov. 4 ballot in South Tucson. (See www.tucsondogprotection.com.) E-mail: tucdogprotection@gmail.com

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TEXT OF LAW, AMENDMENT

Amendment in CAPITAL LETTERS

Proposing an Amendment to Chapter 3, Article 1, Section 3.3 of the South Tucson City Code pertaining to animal cruelty and neglect.

Be it enacted by the People of South Tucson:

Chapter 3, Article 1, Section 3.3 is proposed to be amended as follows if approved by a majority of the qualified electors voting thereon:

Sec. 3-3. Cruelty and neglect.

(b) Neglect. The purpose of this subsection is to guarantee that animals under human custody or control are housed in healthy environments and are provided with proper food, water, shelter, medical care, exercise space and ventilation. Any person owning or having care, control or custody of any animal shall provide:

(1) That the animal receives food that is free from contamination and is sufficient quantity and nutritive value to maintain the animal in good health.

NO PERSON SHALL KNOWINGLY FEED A DOG UNCOOKED OR RAW MEAT FROM DISEASED, DYING, OR DISABLED ANIMALS OR ANIMALS DEAD UPON ARRIVAL AT THE SLAUGHTERHOUSE.

(2) That potable water is accessible to the animal at all times, either free-flowing or in a clean receptacle.

(3) That the animal receives care and medical treatment for debilitating injuries, parasites and diseases, sufficient to maintain the animal in good health and minimize suffering.

NO PERSON SHALL GIVE OR ADMINISTER ANABOLIC STEROIDS AS DEFINED IN THE UNITED STATES CODE AND RELEVANT SECTIONS OF THE CODE OF FEDERAL REGULATIONS TO ANY DOG TO ARTIFICIALLY ENHANCE PERFORMANCE OR TO SUPPRESS ESTRUS.

(4) That the animal is given adequate exercise space as follows:

a. Within an enclosure that shall be constructed of material, and in a manner, to minimize the risk of injury to the animal and shall encompass sufficient usable space to keep the animal in good condition;

NO PERSON SHALL CONFINE A DOG TO A CRATE OR CAGE SMALLER THAN 35 INCHES HIGH BY 45 INCHES LONG BY 35 INCHES WIDE FOR MORE THAN A TOTAL OF EIGHTEEN HOURS IN ANY TWENTY-FOUR HOUR PERIOD UNLESS SUCH CONFINEMENT IS DEEMED MEDICALLY NECESSARY BY A VETERINARIAN LICENSED BY THE STATE OF ARIZONA;

b. Tieouts are prohibited.

(5) That the animal has access to adequate ventilation and is protected from temperature extremes at all times. In this connection, it is unlawful for any person to keep any animal in a vehicle or other enclosed space in which the temperature is either so high or so low, or the ventilation is so inadequate, as to endanger the animal’s life or health. Any peace officer or county animal control officer is authorized to use whatever force is reasonable and necessary to remove any animal from a vehicle or other enclosed space whenever it appears that the animal’s life or health is endangered by extreme temperatures or lack of ventilation within the vehicle orother enclosed space.

No peace officer or county animal control officer shall be liable for damages to property caused by the use of reasonable force to remove an animal from such a vehicle or other enclosed space under such circumstances.

(C ) [Treatment.] Any of the provisions of this section “W” may be waived as dictated by treatment under direction of a licensed veterinarian.

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