Below is our recent interview with Christine Ann Dorchak, President and General Counsel at GREY2K USA Worldwide:
Q: Could you provide our readers with a brief introduction to your organization?
A: GREY2K USA Worldwide was formed in 2001 from a one-room basement office outside of Boston, and has become the largest greyhound protection organization in the world. As a non-profit advocacy organization, we have closed down dozens of dog tracks in our home country and all around the globe. Commercial greyhound racing is now illegal in 42 American states and only two tracks remain, both in West Virginia. Encouraged by this trend, we have worked with key Democrats and Republicans in Washington, DC to file a federal bill to make dog racing illegal in the United States. The Greyhound Protection Act will outlaw all forms of betting and wagering on greyhound races. The measure also makes it illegal for Americans to bet on dog races here or abroad and prohibits the export of dogs for racing in other countries.
Q: Any highlights on your recent announcement?
A: Unfortunately, online wagering has provided a whole new path forward for greyhound gamblers. In January, we launched our #TwinSpiresCruelty petition to expose the new wave of remote gambling that is propping up a despicable industry. As part of our campaign, we flew a 75-foot-banner over the Kentucky Derby to let people know that Churchill Downs (CHDN) is now even using its online gambling platform Twin Spires to take bets on cruel dog racing in Mexico. American greyhounds are literally being run to the ground at the Agua Caliente track in Tijuana. Fidelity Investments is the largest investor in CHDN, and we are encouraging everyone who cares about dogs to write to CEO Abigail Johnson and asked her to drop dog races too.
Q: What motivates you to keep working each day?
A: This is truly a David v. Goliath fight and we were told many years ago that we could never succeed! The dog track owners were millionaires and had many politicians in their pockets. It is also worth mentioning that historically, the greyhound racing industry was introduced by the likes of gangsters such as Al Capone and Meyer Lansky. So there was a definite aspect of personal risk in what we were doing. But we knew that greyhounds were being treated terribly, and that someone had to fight for them.
Q: What is life like for a racing greyhound?
A: No matter where they are racing, greyhounds are kept confined in small metal cages inside dark warehouse style kennel buildings for an average of 23 hours a day. (Imagine these majestic dogs living in stacked chicken coops). They are fed a diet based on cheap 4-D (diseased) meat. There are no toys for them and no play. Their “beds” consist of piles of shredded newspaper or old carpet scraps.
When these gentle hounds are let out to race several times a month, they face the risk of serious injury. A dog died every three days in Florida until 2018, when we were able to pass a voter question to end dog racing there. In West Virginia, 2,000 greyhounds continue to suffer crushed skulls, fractured legs, torn and twisted muscles, seizures, heat stroke, paralysis and puncture wounds. Drugging and race fixing are also a problem. Once a dog is no longer profitable, it is up to the kennel owner whether he lives or dies. Racing greyhounds are highly disposable, and in countries like Australia, the term “wastage” is used for all the surplus pups and ex-racers summarily killed each year.
Q: What can we expect from your company in next 6 months? What are your plans?
A: We have just finished a book about our campaigns called Brooklyn Goes Home, The Rise and Fall of American Greyhound Racing and the Dog that Inspired a Movement. It is the story of our work told through the life of a special greyhound named Brooklyn. He was born in Australia, shipped to race and die at a Chinese dog track, his fate sealed. But thanks to a worldwide movement with our partners ANIMA and Pet Levrieri, we managed to shutter the infamous “Canidrome” and bring the 532 surviving dogs to safety. One of these dogs was Brooklyn, who came home to me and my family. His determination to survive became the impetus for our growing work.
That said, our goal is to put ourselves out of business! We are lawyers, lobbyists and dog rescuers who work day-in and day-out to pass stronger greyhound protection laws and end the cruelty of dog racing on both national and international levels. GREY2K USA also promotes the rescue and adoption of greyhounds across the globe. It is our hope that one day we will no longer be needed and that all greyhounds will be safe.