Guest Commentary

It’s time to end greyhound racing in Kansas for good

Terry Garberg and her greyhound Charlotte
Terry Garberg and her greyhound Charlotte

Here we go again. Every year animal advocates in Kansas have to fight legislation to keep greyhound racing out of our state. This year, the threat comes from two obscure laws on the books — Kansas Expanded Lottery Act and the Kansas Parimutuel Racing Act — that would require greyhound racing if the three dog tracks in Kansas were opened for sports wagering.

As a member of KC REGAP, or Retired Greyhounds as Pets, I am exhausted from this fight year after year. I yearn for the day when Kansas, like 41 other states across the country, will simply make greyhound racing illegal. Period. End of story.

Instead, here we go again, listening to the same tired myths from race promoters:

▪ Myth: “The dogs at racetracks are not mistreated.”

▪ Truth: Those of us who rescue greyhounds know they are intelligent and sensitive, and most remain loyal to humans in spite of the ugly lives they lived prior to rescue. The living conditions of racing dogs at the racetracks are deplorable, including being confined for more than 22 hours a day in cages too small for them to stand up. Their plight is even worse on the racetrack, where they suffer horrific injuries that are, of course, death sentences for racing dogs.

▪ Myth: “Retired greyhounds are adopted out.”

▪ Truth: Some are, but many are not. Because of the sheer number of dogs required for the operation of a racetrack, many tracks will adopt out their healthy dogs, but choose other methods to “dispose” of dogs not able to race anymore. We know, for instance, in the last six months before Wyandotte County’s The Woodlands track closed in 2008, 80 dogs were injured. Nineteen dogs were euthanized or died while racing.

▪ Myth: “Kansas respects animals and would not allow mistreatment of greyhounds.”

▪ Truth: It’s a nice thought, but simply not true. Racing greyhounds are specifically excluded from the Kansas Pet Animal Act, statute 47-1701. Therefore, greyhounds are not given the same protection from abuse accorded to other dogs, cats and companion animals in the state. Over the years, KC REGAP has expended more than $1 million in veterinarian costs for injured greyhounds.

▪ Myth: “Breeders and track owners wouldn’t mistreat the dogs they rely upon.”

▪ Truth: Greyhound racing is a profit-driven industry in which those involved are concerned with cutting costs and maximizing profits. When dogs no longer make money, it is most profitable for them to be discarded and new ones bred, perpetuating the cycle of cruelty.

So here we are again. Legislation proposed this spring would permit sports wagering at racetrack venues. Although the definition of sports wagering in the proposed legislation excludes bets on greyhound races, this does not change the fact that live greyhound racing would be required for those facilities to reopen and offer sports wagering on other sports.

How much time and energy needs to wasted year after year fighting this losing battle? Our Kansas legislators need to listen to their constituents and put an end to greyhound racing once and for all.

Terry Garberg is a member of KC Regap, which has rescued over 5,000 racing greyhounds since 1990. She fosters greyhounds and has adopted five of them in the last 16 years.