AR-News: AR NEWS: Greyhound rules would close some loopholes
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WeArPetitions at aol.com
Mon Sep 8 02:34:45 EDT 2003
By Tom Sheehan / Tribune Capitol Bureau
Racing greyhounds could not be shipped from a Wisconsin racetrack for use in
medical experiments by anyone except their owners, under rule changes
recommended by the state Division of Gaming
The proposal is just one of more than 150 changes proposed in what would mark
the first overhaul of Wisconsin's greyhound racing rules since 1996, said
Chris Patton, a racing specialist with the division.
The changes, now being reviewed by the state Legislature, would update
regulations, add safeguards and close some loopholes in the rules, Patton said.
Wisconsin once had five greyhound racetracks but now has just two — Geneva Lakes
Greyhound Track in Delavan and Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha.
The rules control just about every aspect of greyhound racing, from security
to bookkeeping to the amounts and types of bets allowed. About 25 of the rule
changes directly affect animal welfare or the administration of drugs to
greyhounds. Kennels at the two tracks held 1,680 greyhounds as of Friday, said Dan
Subach, chief steward for the Gaming Division.
Some animal welfare advocates say rule changes don't go far enough to protect
animals from injury and mistreatment. In some cases, the rules may even
create loopholes, said Susan Netboy, president of the greyhound protection league
in Penn Valley, Calif.
Greyhound owners should be banned from transporting or selling greyhounds for
medical research, Netboy said. "I would say the state of Wisconsin has the
authority to disallow it altogether because the dogs are racing in the state,"
The proposed rule on transporting greyhounds was largely prompted by the case
of a former kennel operator at the now-defunct St. Croix Meadows Greyhound
Racing Park in Hudson, Patton said.
Daniel Shonka, Cedar Rapids, Iowa, was convicted in St. Croix County Circuit
Court on Feb. 6, 2003, of theft, after reaching a plea bargain with the state
Attorney General's office. Shonka allegedly sold as many as 935 dogs for
between $300 and $400 each to Guidant Corp., a Minnesota cardiac research lab from
1996 to 2000.
Shonka had a USDA license to sell animals to research facilities, but
prosecutors said owners thought their animals were racing for his kennel or being put
up for adoption. The proposed rule-change stops short of blocking dog owners
from selling their animals for medical experiments because animals are
considered private property, Patton said.
Another rule change would require that post-mortem exams on greyhounds be
performed at a state animal health lab, the UW-Madison School of Veterinary
Medicine or by another entity approved by a state veterinarian. Currently, the
exams are performed by "veterinarians who have a financial relationships with
kennel operators," a Gaming Division summary of the rules states.
About a dozen greyhounds are euthanized each year because of injuries at
Wisconsin greyhound racetracks, Patton said. The rule change would remove even the
appearance of any conflict of interest, Patton said.
Netboy said that change may appear more restrictive but actually would remove
a requirement under current rules that post-mortem exams be performed for
each greyhound death at a racetrack. A post-mortem is the only good way to
determine if a greyhound may have been given performance-enhancing or other drugs,
Post-mortem exams would be done at the discretion of a state veterinarian
under the proposed rules, and that's how it's done in practice now, Patton said.
Under current rules, severely injured greyhounds must immediately be taken to
a state veterinarian, who may euthanize them, Patton said. Under those
circumstances, the state veterinarian clearly knows the cause of death without an
exam, Patton said.
Netboy said the rule changes largely ignore greyhound injuries, which have
been a problem, particularly at Dairyland, she said. From 2001 to 2002, injuries
reported at Dairyland increased 30 percent — from 318 to 412, state records
show. Injuries have tapered off during 2003, Patton said, but Netboy said the
state missed an opportunity to mandate corrective action.
The number of injuries at Dairyland is remarkably low, given the number of
greyhounds and races, said Bill Apgar, general manager and vice president of
operations at Dairyland. "We run a safe racetrack and do everything we can for
the health of the greyhounds," Apgar said.
Each year, Dairyland holds about 370 events, each of which feature between 15
and 20 races, Apgar said. Apgar said he supports the rule changes, which went
through a thorough review and hearing process, he said. Without objection
from the Legislature, the rules could take effect in 2004, Patton said.
I looked at all the caged animals in the shelter...the cast-offs of human
society. I saw in their eyes love and hope, fear and dread, sadness and betrayal.
And I was angry. "God," I said, "this is terrible! Why don't you do
something?" God was silent for a moment and then He spoke softly. "I have done
something," He replied. "I created You."
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