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On Attempts to Bring Dog Racing to Jamaica and South Africa

A member of Parliament for East St. Andrew (Jamaica), Dr. St. Aubyn Bartlett, has declared his intention to bring dog racing to Jamaica. Though I often write about greyhound racing, I thought that I'd pull quotes about parts of the process that you might not be aware of, such as these from "Killing for Profit" in the Jamaica Observer:

Dog racing is exclusively and vulgarly about making profits at the expense of defenseless animals. A racing greyhound's welfare at each stage of life is largely dependent on the dog's ability to generate money. Greyhounds typically begin racing at the age of 18 months. To qualify at an official track, the dogs must finish in the top four in two "schooling" races. If successful, the dogs enter maiden races. As they win, the dogs advance up through grades D, C, B, and finally grade A, as they finish in first, second, or third place in three consecutive races. Alternatively, as they begin losing, they decline in grades using the same criteria in reverse. By failing in grade D, the lowest grade, a dog is considered "graded-off", and may be sent to a less competitive track. Once a dog has graded-off at an end-of-the-line track, he (she) is either killed, kept for breeding, or turned over for adoption.

And what about the financial viability of the industry? It is now a known fact that dog racing is a dying industry. With attendance at racetracks dwindling in countries like the United States, greyhound racing is generally on the decline. Gaming industry statistics paint a bleak picture. Of the entire $61.6 billion gaming market in the US, greyhound racing held a 0.7 per cent share in 2000. That's a decline of 6.65 per cent or 32.6 million, from 1999 figures. State revenue from dog racing also dropped significantly. Even Florida, widely believed to be the last bastion of dog racing, has been experiencing diminishing returns. As a result, many tracks have lost enthusiasm for dog racing, and instead, are concentrating on gaming. Currently, five tracks in three US states are introducing slot machines to buttress declining revenues from dog racing, a development now described as "Racinos".

You can send your thoughts to: 

Prime Minister, The Honorable Bruce Golding 
One Devon Road 
Kingston 10 

You can also respond to the article or send an editorial to:

Jamaica Observer 
40-421/2 Beechwood Avenue 
Kingston 5 
Jamaica W.I. 

Not to be outdone, South Africa, which banned greyhound racing in 1946 (not because of the dogs, but because of the gambling), is exploring legalizing it. Other forms of gambling are now legal and regulated in South Africa and the companies pushing for legalization appear to have a fight on their hands from the SPCA. There are illegal races already, and of course racing proponents say that the dogs will benefit from legalization as then welfare organizations can monitor the industry. 

Here's more on the story, and your thoughts can be sent to:

Professor Elizabeth Snyman-Van Deventer
University of the Free State
Faculty of Law
P.O. Box 339
9300 South Africa

The Citizen Newspaper
P.O. Box 43069
Industria 2042

Grey2KUSA's Christine Dorchak's letter was printed last week. Check it out!

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