Friday, February 20, 2015

Musings of Dr Liz - Greyhounds are Amazing Animals

Welcome to another one of my musings.... this week has been hard ..... this week has been almost gut wrenching and sickening for all of those who love and care for animals.

Please note: this post is  without fancy photos and without fancy layout - deliberately. 

This week, ABC Four Corners showed a program which showed graphic sickening video of the torture of rabbits, possums and piglets  which were used in the "live baiting" or "blooding" of Greyhounds to improve their racing performance.

All animals featured are victims of cruelty - both bait and Greyhound alike.

I will share the link to the episode at the end, in case you haven't seen it.

Let us hope that the focus on the Greyhounds doesn't distract us from the other forms of animal cruelty that are out there at the moment - where is the outrage at the live export?  pigeon racing? dog shows? cat shows? puppy mills? pet shops? dog training methods? breeding of dogs with genetic disorders? general animal abuse? animal abandonment?

The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.

Gandhi's quote is true!

I have to admit that it was impossible to watch the entire episode - I was lucky to make it through 5 minutes of it... but got the gist of what it was all about. I, like many of you, have been following the fallout afterwards...... it has been heartwarming, and disheartening all at the same time.

In my vet hospital, the Greyhounds I see are purely pets.   They are very much loved family pets.   All of them are very very gentle creatures.  I would find it hard to believe that the Greyhounds that I see are the animal killing beasts as featured on the show.

As a vet of family pet Greyhounds, they are absolutely amazing animals and loved as much as all of the other pets that I see.

Of course, as is the case, the blame on the cruelty featured on the ABC  is placed squarely on the  human who, as a result of greed, has chosen illegal, inhumane methods of motivating the animals under their care. Sadly, "old school training", and "this is the way my father did it", juxtaposed with the exorbitant dollar value that these dogs are given at the race track, means that these methods will continue, long after the current furore has died down.   Sadly, money talks.  

Unfortunately, there is  also the collateral damage.  In trying to protect these beautiful animals by exposing the cruel training by a few experienced older trainers,  their very welfare is now under threat. 

Those who own pet greyhounds are equally under threat, as mob mentality starts to do what it does best.

I will admit to being a vet who has nothing to do with the Greyhound racing community.  Many would argue I do not have any right to comment one way or another on this issue.   They are not wrong, except as a human being who loves animals, I have every right to comment.

“My doctrine is this, that if we see  cruelty or wrong that we have the  power to stop, and do nothing, we  make ourselves sharers in the guilt.”  ― Anna Sewell

And so, I will not be silenced.

Many years ago, I wrote about the subtle cruelty I see to animals every so often at my veterinary hospital.  I am sure I am not alone in the cruelty I see.   Again, I will not be silenced.  Many pet owners do not like to think that they may be cruel either, and I have no doubt that many journalists do not see the damage they are equally doing to animal welfare  themselves by their attacks on the veterinary profession itself.

How many pets are now not receiving the vaccinations, dental care, and regular check ups they need? 

Like any other feeling human being, watching the torture of another sentient being, is difficult, bordering on impossible.  The fact that I am a human being, who values the life of all living creatures, gives me the right to comment,  like all of you.

Let us not forget that Greyhounds are sentient beings, who, if they are racing or in training,  are not in control of the environment they are in.

What scares me is, that when many of these beautiful dogs need to find family homes after their racing career is over, that  people are going to see those images of "blooding", and then think of these beautiful, amazing animals as killers.

They are not killers!

 Greyhounds are amazing animals, who perform a job - their job is to run fast to make their human owners happy. They are not in control of the training that goes in to make them good at what they do.  They cannot dictate whether the trainer they have uses appropriate, humane methods, or the unscrupulous few who are inhumane.

By all means, get angry and put pressure on everyone to be vigilant - in all facets of our lives where there are animals.  There is nothing wrong with that.  But in that process, we have to be aware that in trying to protect the animals who are also the victim, that we do not  give them a death sentence.

In other words, do not ostracize these same beautiful animals, and do not stop looking at all of the other aspects of our lives where beautiful animals are being abused.

I am Dr Liz, the mad vet from Bellambi.