Monday, July 17, 2006

Time To Ban Greyhound Gambling

A dog racing watchdog is to hold an inquiry into claims that thousands of animals are being shot dead every year.

The National Greyhound Racing Club has condemned the "euthanising" of healthy dogs and said putting them down should be a last resort, carried out by a vet.

A Sunday Times investigation claimed builders' merchant David Smith, of Seaham, County Durham, had shot and buried 10,000 dogs over 15 years.

This slaughter of thousands of otherwise healthy and adoptable dogs is why I am opposed to greyhound racing. I have no problem with people racing their dogs as a sport. It is good exercise and a mental challenge for the dogs, and for some breeds, speed and endurance are necessary aspects for their reason for being bred. But, the gambling industry isn’t good for the dogs, and it is terrible for us as dog owners. Gambling is a primary motivating force behind pit fighting, and it is the driving force for greyhound racing. Gambling in this instance isn’t for the good of the dog or breed, it is only for the gaming interests of people. I would bet that more dogs die each year as greyhound racing throwaways, than the number of dogs that die in pit fighting. Tell me... when was the last time you saw a greyhound puppy? You won't see one. The ones that don't show promise are put to death early on, the remainder go on to race and live in cages, and when they aren't winners any more, most are put to death. That is no life for a dog.

A dog is first and foremost a pet. Dogs are needed and useful in a multitude of ways. They can be used for companionship, protection, hunting, scent detection work, service dog work, etc. All good things. But, when they just become a commodity, such as turning them into human food, or for pit fighting or professional greyhound racing, then that denigrates all dogs and dog ownership. Such activities also stir up animal rights activists, who can then use these inhumane practices to force through laws that make it more and more impossible for legitimate owners to have or breed pet or working dogs.

I think that a ban on using dogs for greyhound gambling purposes would be justified since so many normal and healthy greyhounds are killed each year for no humane reason. We already ban gambling on pit fighting, so this would also be justified for many of the same reasons.

Should we then ban gambling on dog sled racing? I’m not sure. At this point, I’m not opposed to dog sled racing because I don’t believe that dogs are being bred and slaughtered en masse for the sport, and I believe that it could be said that such dogs are being tested to produce better sled dogs in the future that could provide use and companionship to humans. In addition, my research indicates sled dogs then go to live as pets at someone's home, not living in cages all year round. Greyhounds are never companions when they are still race dogs. They go from race to race in cages, and there isn’t much else in life for them. If the gambling aspect of greyhound racing was eliminated, then I would support greyhound racing events. But, the appalling number of dogs that are put down each year, and the fact that almost all live their entire lives in cages, because of gambling, makes me believe professional greyhound racing should be banned.

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