NH Rep. Responds to Animal Person
As I wrote about yesterday, greyhound racing will continue at New Hampshire’s three tracks. Part of my activism is writing letters to legislators regarding issues that are important to me. I cannot say that it is the best use of my time or that I can conclusively connect it to anything good that has ever happened for animals. But as a writer, I’d feel remiss if I didn’t at least try.
Although I address whatever issue is being raised according to the way it’s being raised (e.g., the cruelty of greyhound racing), I always make sure that I include the abolitionist message (e.g., greyhounds aren’t ours to use for entertainment, sport, or gambling).
I also try not to send a letter written immediately after I have heard or read about the offending topic, as that first draft can be a bit harsh. However, upon reading Rep. Anne-Marie Irwin’s comments about greyhound racing, I was so dismayed that I drafted a letter to her and sent it immediately. Here it is, in its entirety:
I am a Floridian and adoptive mother of two retired racers, one of whom is
diabetic (from steroids injected at the track) and half blind.
I read your comments regarding your opposition to the ban on live racing at
your states three tracks and was shocked and disturbed.
You have a dog. Would you wish a greyhound’s life on your dog?
I didn’t think any politician could make Florida lovers-of-gambling and
disregarders-of-dogs look good, but you have.
Your lack of compassion for dogs other than your own (I assume your dog is
loved and well cared for), and your inability to broaden your ethics beyond
your own dog are appalling.
You could learn a lot from Rep. Wendelboe, who said:
"Could you imagine having to sit in your seat for 23 hours? I mean, we can
stand up, we can stretch. (These) dogs can’t do that . . . . A dog is man’s
best friend, and I don’t think we should be making profit off their
sacrifice and their hard life when we don’t have to."
Greyhound racing is a disgrace. For you to be convinced otherwise by those
who profit from it is . . . politics as usual, I suppose.
Mary Martin, Ph.D.
Oops. Though I’ve written worse letters, I usually tone down the rage a bit more.
Rep. Irwin immediately responded with the following:
We are in the process of putting together a commission to study the impact of eliminating dog racing in NH. It is not good public policy to put more than 500 hundred people out of work, and deprive three small towns of thousands of dollars of property taxes and then ask them if they think that’s a good plan. Additionally, we have to consider how to cope with the displaced dogs. It is my intention to spread more light and less heat so we can go forward in a thoughtful, prepared way to best plan for the people, the communities and the dogs.
I know this is a topic of intense concern, and I appreciate the depth of your conviction. For what it is worth, I don’t disagree with your point of view. I do, however, think we have to go about it thoughtfully and calmly and with consideration for varying perspectives.
If politics as usual means good public policy, good planning, and honest communication, then maybe it is not such a bad thing.
That’s Dr. Martin to you!
And I responded:
The Dog Protection Act was written months ago. There was plenty of time to create a plan for the training/education and job placement of the workers affected (not all 500 would be, as only live racing would be banned—the tracks would still be open for other gambling). You don’t allow an unethical industry to continue just because it employs people.
Would you have voted against a ban on sweatshops because they employ people? Would that have been “good public policy?” The time for “good planning” is over. All that occurs now is more suffering.
People who do care about the dogs mobilize and VOLUNTEER to transport the dogs (not the way the industry does, where many die being transported) around the country to ease the burden on the area where the track was.
It seems like you had plenty of time to plan, and you certainly had an opportunity to act, as if you agree with me.
I do not concern myself with what anyone says—I look at what they do. That is “honest communication.”
Your actions say only one thing.
Mary Martin, Ph.D.
Why do I post all of this? Because she says she agrees with me, and she claims to support certain fine aspects of good politics (public policy, planning, communication), yet that is not what I SEE. We should all take our representatives to task. We must demand that their actions are aligned with their alleged beliefs. It does the dogs no good for her to agree with me in an e-mail when she publicly stood squarely with the racing industry.
Below is a photo taken from Vote for the Dogs, which has been up and running for months and is dedicated solely to greyhound racing in New Hampshire. It contains the information that Rep. Irwin listened to (and I believe saw) and deemed "inconclusive." Check it out for yourself. Watch the slideshow.