Tuesday, October 28, 2008

700 jobs versus ending animal cruelty

Question Three on the Massachusetts ballot, the Greyhound Protection Act which bans dog racing, has not received as much attention as Question One, eliminating the state income tax, and Question Two, decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana. But that doesn't mean it's unimportant. I want to urge everyone to vote YES on Question Three.

Question Three doesn't actually ban all dog racing-- you and your friend can race your dogs to your heart's content-- but it would eliminate racing where wagers are taken.

Proponents of Question Three point to the fact that dogs are confined in small kennels an average of 20 hours a day. numerous injuries and sometimes deaths that greyhounds suffer when racing. More than 800 dog injuries have been documented (by the industry itself) since 2002 and a number have resulted in fatalities. ProtectDogs.org has a video clip of a collision at Raynham Park last year which led to the euthanization of Starz Voice, a two and a half year old red and white greyhound. Watch if you can.

Opponents of Question Three have their own website, Protect Dogs and Jobs, and claim that more than a 1,000 jobs will be lost if the question passes, in addition to towns losing considerable tax revenue. ProtectDogs challenge that figure, but there is no doubt that some jobs and some tax revenues will be lost.

For me, the heart of the question is, what is the ideal relationship between humans and animals? How do we eliminate suffering? How are humans spiritually enriched by their relationship with animals rather than diminished and hardened? There's no one answer, and no easy answer. Animals have provided food, labor, companionship and sport for humans for millennia. Civilizations grew more quickly where there were animals suitable for domestication. Dogs and cats proved their usefulness to humans very early.

In my own family, my granddaughter is a vegan, uses no animal products including soap, and wears no leather, my two daughters are vegetarians, and my nephews are meat-eaters who think of vegetarianism as a mental affliction. I'm a lapsed vegetarian who eats little meat and am a very big fan of Dick Francis' detective stories, all of which are set in the world of horse racing. Life is complicated. But eating meat to survive is one thing; allowing animals to suffer for our entertainment is something else again.

According to the Boston Globe, dog racing appears to be a dying industry-- something we seem to be outgrowing. A survey of Massachusetts voters shows a dead heat in public opinion, with a substantial number still undecided.

Do your own research; I believe you will agree: vote Yes on Question Three.

1 comment:

Hank said...

Dog racing? Not even close. We should be ashamed that we let something like this go on in Massachusetts for so long.