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Greyhound industry must prevent spread of dog flu

September 27th, 2006, 09:57 PM
Greyhound industry must prevent spread of dog flu
Palm Beach Post
Barbara Levine, Boca Raton, writes that kudos go to Post staff writer Stacey Singer for her three-part special report on the dog flu epidemic (Sept. 10-12). Her reporting was extremely well-documented and professionally researched. It illuminated the scary theory that the dog flu might have crossed species, from equine to canine, by the fact that greyhounds were being fed raw horse meat that was deemed unfit for consumption.
It is well-known that standard industry feed for racing greyhounds is raw 4-D meat - the four D's stand for animals, now primarily cattle, that are dead, dying, diseased or down (disabled) at slaughter. A racing greyhound requires 1-2 pounds of meat per day, and the advantages of 4-D to the trainer are availability and cheap price. It now seems that many of these canine athletes have to pay the extreme price - their lives.
Those who purchase meat at the store see a warning label on the packages that tells the consumer to wash hands and surfaces that come in contact with the raw meat. Yet, in order to raise muscular champions that can outrace the other entries, the racers' diet continues to consist of the raw 4-D meats.
In early spring or summer of each year, there is a new outbreak (that was originally called "kennel cough"). Are those who work at the quarantined racing kennels required to follow decontamination procedures before they leave the compound? This would be one way to prevent the general pet population from contracting this virulent and deadly disease.
The precise extent of outbreaks is unknown. Greyhound activists have been asking the racing industry for an accountability bill. If the next time an outbreak in a racing kennel or compound is made public before there is an epidemic, then perhaps the animal shelters can be better prepared and citizens can take steps to prevent exposure of family pets. It was reported that the National Greyhound Association is urging the U.S. Department of Agriculture to "go slowly" with the vaccine that is already developed because of the cost to the owners of racing dogs to have them vaccinated.
Yet another injustice perpetrated on the racing greyhound - the only breed that literally must race for its life.