On February 10, 2010, I went to my one and only (so far) Arizona Department of Racing Commission meeting on Washington Street in Phoenix. I was one of several advocates who were there to represent a legislative bill that never made it out of the starting box.
Numerous people on both sides of the issues were permitted 5 minutes to speak. The representative for the kennel operators and breeders spoke. I remember his words as they have always ached like a bone caught in my throat. He said that he starts injecting females at 1 year old and would do nothing to hurt his producers.
Aha, herein is the difference between him and me. Herein is the difference between the greyhound racing industry and the greyhound adopters: We don’t think of our dogs as “producers.” We think of our dogs as beloved pets. By the time we get our hands and hearts on retired racing greyhounds, they are spayed or neutered. We have no interest in further breeding them. We have no interest in making money off their backs.
The 2008 Tucson Dog Protection ballot initiative asked for three humane conditions to be instituted at Tucson Greyhound Park. One of the conditions was to stop injecting anabolic steroids to female dogs. The purpose of shooting up dogs is to prevent the females from going into season. When females go into season, they cannot race. If they cannot race, they cannot make money. Female dogs go into season (heat) two times a year for three weeks.
After steroid injections, some female greyhounds suffer from perivulvar dermatitis, a painful chronic skin condition also known as vulvar fold dermatitis or crotch rot. The condition is difficult to resolve unless done surgically. Sometimes the condition requires a lifetime of management. Also, long-term use of anabolic steroids in dogs is known to cause urine scald, urinary tract infections, urine incontinence, and genital abnormalities.
In 2008, the Tucson Dog Protection ballot initiative passed by the good people of South Tucson even though the mayor had a sign in her front yard opposing it. Yet, years later the dog track continues to thwart the will of the people.
Thank you to KGUN9 for their commitment to exposing the facts, the ugly facts associated with greyhound racing in our community. While the track is in South Tucson, the name of the track is Tucson Greyhound Park – so the city of Tucson gets smeared by proxy across the country. Please call or email KGUN-TV and thank them and ask them to continue their dogged reporting on this important issue.
Photo: Courtesy Susan Via. The brindle dog’s racing name was Riki D’s Starwar but her pet name was Rocket J. Dog, Rocky for short. She was incredibly shy and scared at first, but was the sweetest dog that ever was. Rocky had heart and blood pressure problems, and suffered from terrible urinary tract infections (UTIs) earlier in her life right after she left the track. She raced more than 50 times in less than 2 years. Rocky struggled to breathe due to congestive heart failure and fluid buildup in her lungs. Her suffering ended in 2007 when she was put to rest. The family still misses Rocky very much.