I spent the night with Brooke and her brood recently. This was taken before I left. At the far back is Otto, sitting on my left side is Iris Pie Face, and getting her neck scratched is Gracie Snorks. Brooke and I slept in the same bed, and I woke up to Iris Pie Face's bum on my pillow with legs cockroached. It was the pfffffft of a greyhound fart bomb that woke me.
Some people have compared returning (to work, home, life) after a vacation to jumping on a treadmill that is already running at full speed. Pshaw. I wish.
I feel as though I have jumped on a treadmill that's at full speed and 6 percent incline, sandwiched between two other machines with sweaty heavy steppers, and my feet have been recently slathered with Vaseline petroleum jelly. I'm shot off the treadmill but not far enough away so that my head and hair aren't pulled and squished underneath the machine.
And I'm angry.
It's not just the physical stuff that's knocking me about: going from US winter to Australian summer, helping people to clean up after the floods, returning to a 10-hour work day that requires a long commute. It's the emotional junk.
I've returned to a Queensland that has a piss-poor greyhound adoption program. I won't even use the word that rhymes with crap anymore. I've struggled with addressing the issues I've had on a public forum. It is part of that "If you can't say anything nice" business one's mom tries to instill. Then after I decided that we did need to talk about this, I stressed about how to do so without too much drama and too many words. Tight writing is not my forte.
Basically, I'm of the opinion that the main greyhound adoption program in queensland is a big, nasty bully.
It was a turn off to visit their display at the Ekka (The Royal Queensland Show, similar to a US state fair) and see volunteers in uniform, but the director off to the side in a conservative business suit. I had at first thought she was some uptight wife or mom who was dragged against her will to the stand and was waiting for her eager husband or child to be done with it. It was worse seeing the dogs get excited to see Brooke, but hearing the volunteers tell us that if the dogs get excited (and these are dogs that know Brooke), they'll be sent to the back. According to the director, a vet, greyhounds don't get excited. Under the new administration, greyhounds are all sleek, calm, and as still as the ones seen depicted on art deco porcelain.
They zoom, you twit. They twirl, zoom, twist, and jump. Yes, they can be calm, but they recognise old friends. But it didn't stop there.
The new administration took to cat and small-dog testing within weeks of getting off the track. There were many failures and rejects. Test them while they're still twitchy. There's an idea.
But for me, the last straw was a sneaky clause put into the contract that said that by signing over their dogs, owner/trainers forfeited their right to know what happens to the dog. The program also charged the owner/trainers about $25 to take in the hound. That happens to be about the same price charged to them to have a dog destroyed.
Most people do not read the fine print. They don't expect changes, or, if there will be change, that the changes would be minor in terms of the welfare of the dogs. Ask yourself why any adoption program would make an owner sign away his or her right to know what happens to the dog. Really. Why? It can't be about privacy. It wasn't about not giving out addresses. I'm very good friends with Tamale's trainers. Fabian came from them, too. (And let's not think about what the new administration would have done with a dog with a lame or missing leg.) I also know that my friend is in touch with Omo's first family and gives them updates.
The greyhound racing industry in Australia is different. Dogs are not kept at the tracks in huge kennel complexes. Many live on a farm at the home of their trainer. These people who give their greyhounds to various adoption programs do so because they want their hounds to live on.
Before, if a hound failed testing, it was returned to give it more time away from the track. Some were offered different foster situtations. Basically it was given many chances. If the program was not going to take the hound, the previous owner or trainer had the choice to take the hound back. Some find homes in the country, at other trainers, or are, sadly, euthanised. The owner or trainer made that decision.
The new policy was a license to kill secretly.
There is no other way around it. If they can kill the dogs, they don't have so many rejected hounds, right? Hey! Look at us. We adopt out and never reject. No, no rejections, just injections. They also have asked the public not to use other adoption agencies. If it's not the old (old!) group, it's a dodgy group. Who thinks that way?
But I can write about it now because this vet, or, as I like to call her, heartless ogress, got her ass served royally.
A trainer who has previously put his dogs through the system had two to put through. One hound was taken a few weeks before the other. When he took his second hound in, he asked what happened to his first. Where is he? What how is he doing? You know what you'd ask. Imagine what went through his mind when she told him that they destroyed the hound. Two weeks. Dead. Killed. They didn't tell him that his hound failed or wasn't a match (and you'd know that in two weeks?) and so destroyed a healthy dog without giving his first owner the chance to take him back.
How unbelievably cruel.
I heard that he hit the roof. Good for him. He went to someone above her (this program is run by the racing authority–enough said) and let them and her have it. The betrayal and the guilt must have been horrible. How can you kill a healthy greyhound? They were rejecting dogs for being too twitchy (again, testing within weeks of leaving the track) or hyper. Imagine all those two-year-old dogs–rejected. But no, with that new rule, none is rejected. Just killed.
So I have heard that the rules have changed; however, the vet who had no problem making that rule is still in charge. She still campaigns against other greyhound adoption groups. She and the volunteers that are loyal to her have made nasty phone calls to people who criticise her.
And there you are. This is what I've had to get off my bloggy chest for weeks. I can return to happy-happy-la-la posts, as it should be. I'll still be angry about this regime; I'll keep my eye on them. I won't, however, let someone so nasty live in my head.
Oh, and I have news. Oooooh.