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.