The Right Thing To Do

There is a story in my forthcoming collection, SURVIVAL SKILLS, that involves a rescued greyhound and a troubled woman. Over the course of this story the two learn how to heal each other. I hoped to strike a chord with this piece, to bring awareness to dog racing and the lasting damage this industry inflicts on helpless creatures.

There is no need here to cite the grim statistics, the number of race dogs that are maimed or destroyed. The fact that these animals are kept in cages is more than enough to shame us. Thirty-eight states, acknowledging this abuse, have banned commercial dog racing, which begs the question: Why is it allowed anywhere? Why does anyone have the legal right to profit from this egregious “sport?” I cannot understand why there isn’t a nationwide ban on dog racing, but if we can’t rely on our leaders, we must turn to ourselves to do the right thing.

Public figures wield untold power. They can unify the population or they can further weaken it; they can promote compassion or they can fan aggression. Last week, encouraged by a television show host, thousands of people swarmed Chick-Fil-A’s in support of their COO, a man who has voiced his opposition to marriage equality. The effect was stunning. For equal rights activists and same sex couples it was a disheartening event, and I couldn’t help but wonder how many people would have patronized these stores that day had the COO spoken out in favor of allowing every citizen the right to marry and enjoy the benefits that marriage confers.

But mostly I thought about greyhounds. I wondered what would happen to our remaining racetracks if the issue of dog racing inspired similar fervor. What if the next time a greyhound race was scheduled, not a single spectator showed up? Ticket sales: zero.

Now that would be something to cheer about.

Published by

Jean Ryan

Jean Ryan, a native Vermonter, lives in Lillian, Alabama. Her stories and essays have appeared in a variety of journals and anthologies. She has also published a novel, LOST SISTER. Her short story collections, SURVIVAL SKILLS and LOVERS AND LONERS, are available online. STRANGE COMPANY, a collection of short nature essays, is available in paperback as well as digital and audio editions.

3 thoughts on “The Right Thing To Do

  1. Dear Jean,

    Thank You for your accurate description about dog racing.

    Greyhound racing is cruel and inhumane. Greyhounds endure lives of nearly constant confinement, kept in cages barely large enough for them to stand up or turn around. While racing, many dogs suffer and die from injuries including broken legs, paralysis, and cardiac arrest. And many greyhounds are euthanized every year, as the number retired from racing exceeds the number of adoptive homes.

    At racetracks across the country, greyhounds endure lives of confinement. According to industry statements, greyhounds are generally confined in their cages for approximately 20 hours per day. They live inside warehouse-style kennels in stacked cages that are barely large enough to stand up or turn around. Generally, shredded paper or carpet remnants are used as bedding.

    An undercover video recently released by GREY2K USA shows the conditions in which these gentle dogs are forced to live:

    For more information on injuries these dogs suffer, please view:

    Dogs play an important role in our lives and deserve to be protected from industries and individuals that do them harm.

    V Wolf Board Member, GREY2K USA

  2. What a wonderful post — thanks for bringing this issue to light! Your story is so beautiful — and though it is fiction, literature one of the most powerful ways to show people the ways in which the animals suffer and how we can rescue them (and how they can rescue us right back).

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