Thursday, August 28, 2008

Dog Days of Summer

Anyone who knows me, knows that I love animals. Growing up, there was never a shortage of animals in my household; dogs, cats, an aquarium full of fish, parakeets, hamsters, mice, lizards, bunnies. And although I've never had a dog of my own since I left home at 18, I do love them and enjoy spending time with them whenever possible. This past weekend, as I strolled through the city, I met a pug named Lila, a poochie named Boscoe (yes, named after George Costanza's password, the dog's person told me when I inquired) and a pack of poodles who were super cute and super friendly. They were very charming, I must say! My affinity for the doggies is strong, therefore, today I bring you two items canine-related.

HEAVEN'S ANGELS: Tough Guys & Puppies
In Sunday's New York Times, this article described a group named "Rescue Ink" that formed in New York City. You know it's going to be a good article, with the first few paragraphs reading like this:

They met on the local hot rod scene. They saw one another at tattoo conventions around the area, comparing bikes. They looked like heavies, a band of Hells Angels, with nicknames equally tough: Mike Tattoo, Big Ant, Johnny O, Batso, Sal, Angel, Des.

They meant no harm. Clad in leather, inked to the hilt in skulls and dragons, with images of bloodied barbed wire looped about their necks, they shared something else — a peculiar tenderness for animals, and the intensity needed to act on the animals’ behalf when people abuse them.

“I’m a vegetarian,” said Mike Tattoo (real name Mike Ostrosky), a former bodybuilding champion with a shaved head, great arms covered in art and a probing clarity in his blue eyes. “And Big Ant has in his backyard three guinea pigs, a couple of rabbits, birds, cats — and fish everywhere. But just because a person has tattoos, they wouldn’t come running with us.”

The group became a little larger over the course of about 15 years, with various animal-loving, tattooed bikers in the New York area joining the conversation. One member, Angel Nieves, a 47-year-old retired city police detective, grew up in the projects on West 125th Street and remembered taking in strays from the streets as a boy, as did many of his cohorts. He owns a tiny, white bichon frisé named Cris.

Having run in crowds where animal abuse was rampant, often involving pit bull fights, the men volunteered at shelters and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty Toward Animals, and they tried to solve cases of missing or abused animals that other organizations had neither the time nor the resources to address.

Next month, the bikers will begin a program in the city’s public schools to educate children about being kind to all animals, even the less attractive breeds. They will be accompanied by Elwood, a small, hairless Chihuahua mix judged in an annual California contest to be the World’s Ugliest Dog.
To read more about the efforts of these wonderful men and their commitment to the dogs and cats of greater New York City, continue the New York Times article, by CLICKING HERE. Also, be prepared for a fun slide-show of the men in action!

VOTE YES ON 3: Massachusetts Voters Can End Greyhound Racing in Their State
As if one could forget, I still urge people to mark Tuesday, November 4th on their calendars. It is Election Day! Not only do we get to vote for our next president, Massachusetts voters have the opportunity to vote to end the cruel practice of greyhound dog racing within our state. As some of you may remember, back in November 2000, we had this question on the ballot. It lost by a 1% margin. 49% of Massachusetts voters wanted it banned. 51% did not. The racetrack owners' budgets were a lot larger than the volunteer organizations' budget and they did a great job campaigning for their cause. Well, luckily, us volunteers collected enough signatures this year to get the question on the ballot again this November. Why should you vote "YES" on Question 3? Here are some reasons:

Racing greyhounds live in confinement; they are warehoused in tiny cages for 20+ hours per day. Since each racetrack needs a minimum of 1,000 dogs, they are kept in tiny warehouse-style kennels, where most cannot stand up or turn around.

They are injured while competing. These dogs suffer from broken legs, broken necks, paralysis and cardiac arrest. And then they die.

They are fed Grade 4D meat, to keep costs down. This meat is not fit for human consumption. You might think, well, what's the difference between this Grade 4D meat and the meat found in commercial dog food? Well, the difference is, the meat fed to the greyhounds is raw. Yes, RAW. That also keeps costs down. With raw meat consumption comes the risk of disease spreading pathogens, like salmonella. Would you feed raw Grade 4D meet to your pet? No, I didn't think so.

These dogs compete year-round, in all sorts of weather. As you know, New England has very cold winters. These greyhounds are thin, small dogs with very short, thin fur.

When a racing greyhound is lucky enough (and allowed) to be "rescued", adopting them out can be difficult, as these dogs are usually quite timid or very aggressive, from their past mistreatment. They've never been a pet or lived in a house before, so qualified adopters who have the time, patience and ability to help these dogs adapt, can be hard to find.

The abuse that takes place at Massachusetts' two greyhound racing tracks is documented. There is no denying it. Also, greyhound racing has experienced a sharp economic decline. People just aren't interested in it and a lot of those people have come around, because they've come to know the inhumane living conditions of the animals and have chosen to cease supporting it. And for the naysayers who complain "What about the jobs that will be lost, if greyhound racing is outlawed?" I have two answers for you: #1 If the ballot question passes on November 4, the racing would be phased out. The ban would not begin until January 1, 2010. Additionally, the Committee to Protect Dogs has promised to volunteer it's time to help the displaced workers find new jobs. They are very serious about this. #2 When slavery was outlawed in the United States, jobs were lost. But wasn't it more important to end the cruel and inhumane practice of slavery than it was to displace people who profited from the slave trade? The people in positions of power had options and other ways to make money. The people in captivity had no voice, no choice. We needed to make a law that protected them, not their captors.

These days, you see pampered pets everywhere. Dogs have their own spas and get massages. People spend money to stage mock weddings of their dogs (Earlier this week, I saw online, that The Today Show recently had a doggie wedding fashion show on, complete with doggie bridal tips). I see dogs with expensive Coach and Louis Vuitton collars. People will spend oodles of money on organic dog treats, dog walkers and anything else that they think their dog will like. In my hometown of Boston, there are doggie bakeries, yes, bakeries! Just for dogs! Why should we care so deeply and bestow so much love and affection on these dogs called pets, but completely ignore the cruelties that these racing greyhounds face every day of their dismal, lonely lives? These greyhounds needlessly suffer. You, as a voter, have a chance to change that!

For more information on why greyhound racing should be banned, please visit these websites and please, VOTE YES ON QUESTION 3 on November 4th.

PRO DOG: The Committee to Protect Dogs


Thank You!


CathyS said...

My husband laughs at me because I "catch and release" flies that get in the house. I did have my son move a black widow that was on the patio a couple of weeks ago. I appreciate your love of animals and want to support your getting the word out. We all share the planet.

Good work.

Miss Details Design said...

Thank you for taking the time to care about these wonderful animals. I was so lucky to be able to rescue a greyhound from my local racetrack through Arizona adopt A Greyhound.

About 10 to 15 years ago greyhounds were treated horribly as well here in Arizona. The breeders and tracks have really cleaned up their act though. Greyhounds make wonderful pets - they are a little different than regular dogs...they don't know how to play(but learn really quickly) have never been in a house so you need to teach them what glass is and that they can't run through it. They are the perfect pet for a busy lifestyle, after they have finished racing, usually age 3 to 5, all they want to do is sleep. So when 3 passes there might be a lot of hounds to adopt, I highly recommend one of these pups as pets!
oh, FYI, we are encouraged to feed them a raw diet (although not lower grade meat), shicken, beek, fish....dogs don't seem to have the same reaction to raw foods as humans do. See the link below.
Good luck!

John Talbot said...

Thanks so much for posting such an important and informed piece about Question 3. Like so many things we humans do to animals, dog racing is just downright terrible. We all need to make sure we get the word out to Massachusetts voters so people are informed and understand why Question 3 is so important! Thanks!

Anonymous said...

A society can definitely be judged by how it treats sad that dogs in this day and age are subjected to this. Thanks for making it known!

elizabeth said...

Thank you so much for keeping the protection of greyhounds in the minds of the public.
I have 6 rescued animals - 5 cats and a wonderful yellow lab. My cats are wonderful too, but as most people know, labs are such gentle creatures. Mine likes to clean the cats and they have grown to expect and accept it. Pretty good for a cat!
How different our lives would be without our animals.
so on Nov. 5th I hope we have a great new president who will bring positive changes to this country and also have an important law for all of you in MA. that will protect these beautiful greyhounds.

Magic said...

I have to say this is another case of a person not having any truths in what they pass on as information. I have a greyhound and have been behind the tracks to the kennels. They are loved and live a good life till it is time to retire and be adopted out to a forever family. Please research this before you vote on question3.

Kathleen said...

Thank you for adopting a rescued greyhound; Magic is one of the few, lucky ones. So kudos to you!

I am not in the practice of writing about topics I know nothing about. I've actually worked on this greyhound issue since 1998 and have been involved with animal welfare for even longer. I know the facts, first hand, and they are horrifying, so that is why I was compelled to urge my blog readers to VOTE YES ON 3. When animals are used as commodities, their welfare is no longer the #1 priority. The monetary interests of the animals' owners and handlers (and the people they answer to) comes first and that's when the animals suffer.