I've been in the greyhound racing business for more than 40 years. Over all that time, I can say without fear of contradiction that people who have earned their living at Raynham Park are hardworking, decent individuals who pay their taxes and live by the rules.
The stark reality is that passing Question 3 would rob these self-reliant people of their livelihood. But maybe more important, it would throw these people out of work for no reason. And, for the first time, it would shut down an operating business that has broken no laws, paid its taxes, and been a good neighbor to the people of Raynham.
Proponents of Question 3 want voters to believe that racing is inherently harmful to greyhounds. If you believe what they say, you would think that greyhound racing was some kind of canine demolition derby. Nothing could be further from the truth
Greyhounds are bred to run and have raced since the time of the ancient Egyptians. Greyhounds have raced in Massachusetts for the past 70 years. In those seven decades, there has not been one documented case of abuse at a Commonwealth dog track.
Moreover, greyhound racing is one of the most regulated industries in Massachusetts. Greyhounds are always under the watchful eye of state-certified veterinarians and under the constant supervision of the Massachusetts State Police Racing Unit. Inspectors from the State Racing Commission frequently enter the kennels and paddock area unannounced. Surely, if greyhound care was as heartless as opponents would have you believe, somebody would have lodged an official complaint in 70 years.
Racing opponents' claim of ill treatment and long-term confinement of the dogs is simply illogical. How can a highly toned athlete perform at top condition if it is fed poorly, never exercised, and cooped up all day? Simple answer. It can't. So why would any trainer engage in these practices when doing so virtually ensures failure? Besides, they love their dogs. They talk about them like they were their kids.
Supporters of Questions 3 are quick to sensationalize and magnify any and all greyhound injuries that incur on the track. As with all highly competitive sports, we do have some injuries. But this too must be put in context. Greyhound racing has one of the lowest injury rates of any sport. Opponents point out that there have been more than 800 injuries since 2002. What they don't say is that number represents mishaps after 465,176 greyhound starts. These official racing commission statistics demonstrate that the injury rate for racing greyhounds in Massachusetts is 0.15 percent and many of those injuries are not serious.
Opponents of greyhound racing characterize us as an industry in decline. Well, that description could be equally applied to the newspaper, textile, and auto industries. In fact, it can be said of the entire manufacturing sector of the economy. So should we throw out all the people who are still working in those jobs because their companies earn less than they once did?
If Question 3 passes, the dogs will just move to other tracks that offer fewer protections than Massachusetts. But more than 1,000 of our neighbors will be driven out of work in this crumbling economy. In short, everybody loses.
George Carney is president of the Massasoit Greyhound Association.