The Zen of Grey2K….Part 2…. the age of “Carey Nation”

by Rockingship

Carey Theil, a high priest in the national Greyhound Temperance>Extinction Movement, and a major player in what is known as Grey2K (a political action/lobbying group heretofore to be known as “Carey Nation”) has gone nuclear on his blog. Not only has he attacked the National Greyhound Association and accused them of perhaps fudging the yearly adoption estimates, but, I am told, he has cast that same pointy, fickle finger of condemnation at the former national Vice President of Greyhound Pets of America (GPA), the largest adoption organization in the country, Mr. John Parker.

Now, as a long time student, observer and handler of racing greyhounds, I find this remarkable. Particularly so, because not only is Mr. Parker a veteran adoption volunteer and an authority on the adoption of retired racing greyhounds—something Carey Nation takes virtually no part in, contributing little if any time or financial resources to it—-but John Parker is also an authority on the Greyhound breed, equally adept at discussing either the NGA racing breed, or the AKC non-racing breed. Carey Nation casting aspersions at John Parker’s greyhound cred, is a little like a gaggle of Steve Urkels calling out Dr. Dre for not being “gangsta” enough.

I guess the non-contextual and skewed reportage of injuries sustained by racing greyhounds over the years has lost some of its power to vacuum money from the wallets of a well-meaning but gullible public. Or perhaps the wellspring of kind-hearted dupes who have been once, twice, maybe even three times snookered into donating their hard earned money to what they may have inferred was an actual, hands-on provider of greyhound welfare, has been bled nearly dry, after they found out that their money might have more likely been used to buy brie and zinfandel for the braintrust of Carey Nation, maybe even while dining with a few of their empowering, well-lobbied political cronies. One simply swoons at the thought.

No matter, Carey Nation is now trumpeting from the rooftops, all about the virtues of greyhound adoption, and how woefully inept the NGA and the 300 assorted racing greyhound adoption groups in the USA have been at keeping the records of how many greyhounds are actually adopted each year. Carey Nation usually avoids the subject of adoption the way turn-of-the century New Yorkers avoided Typhoid Mary. Strange, because adoption or actual greyhound welfare is what they would seem to prefer the donating public believe they are engaged in, rather than the tawdry political intrigues that lobbying for the Prohibition of greyhound racing might present, like that messy, little West Virginia dust-up—or the nasty, yucky work of smearing, disenfranchising and/or destroying the livlihoods of an entire class of racing professionals.

Anyway, what ticked Carey Nation off and beckoned the Holy Modal Greyhound Temperance Hallelujah Chorous to full throat, was a claim made by NGA spokesman Gary Guccione, that 95% of its retired racers are eventually adopted. Unfortunately for Guccione, and I presume for Parker as well, they did not, apparently, state that this was an estimate.

Since not all adoption groups are inclined to fill out and turn in their paperwork, the NGA cannot infallibly quantify the actual number of yearly adoptees, but must project that number from the roughly one-third of adoption groups who do return their dog’s paperwork to them. It’s an inexact science. But what’re you gonna do? Now I have no idea why Carey Nation has their whimmies in such a froth over greyhound adoption, anyway, since they contribute little, if anything toward it, and frankly, never have seemed to me to be much interested in it. Furthermore, this alleged fudging of the numbers fits the Carey Nation narrative to a T. That would be, if you’ve been following the production all along, is that not only are all greyhound professionals abusers, exploiters and evil-doers to racing greyhounds—-but now, in light of this stunning new revelation, they could very likely be members of local greyhound death cults!

Meanwhile, I decided for my penance, that I would have a look at what  former greyhound-suffragette and board member of Carey Nation, Jen Krebs, might be saying about all this hubbub on her blog. Nothing.

But I did read a very interesting, recent (Sept,2011) article about blood pressure in greyhounds, and learned something for my trouble. I felt cleansed.

Interestingly enough,  contained in Ms. Krebs’ report on greyhound blood pressure (which entirely sources OSU and respected greyhound veterinarian/researcher Dr. Cuoto) is this unsourced little tibit, which I assume is attributable to Ms. Krebs herself, former Carey Nation board member.

Most of the estimated 200,000 pet greyhounds in the United States are former racers that have been adopted at the end of their careers

Well let’s see here now. Jen Krebs estimates that there are 200K pet greyhounds in the US. Since greyhounds are usually adopted after a racing career of some duration, and they generally begin racing in earnest at 18-20 months of age, I think it’s safe to figure that the median age of an adopted greyhound is somewhere between 2 and 3.5 years of age. Since they generally live to an age of  10-11 or 12, sometimes even longer, most of the existing pet population of greyhounds, at the time of the article, would have been born between 1999 and 2008.

Here are the number of greyhounds born in each of the those years. These figures include stillborns.

1999  27,059
2000  26,464
2001  26,797
2002  27,142
2003  26,277
2004  26,262
2005  26,207
2006  22,951
2007  20,227
2008  20,365

Now, if we estimate—there’s that word again—that most retired greyhounds live about 8-10 years from the day they retire, and if we estimate, also, that the aggregate greyhounds born in those years have a premature mortality rate of about 10% (much less than most purebreds), and that 5% of that aggregate are retired for breeding—-any way you work the numbers, using the estimate of 200K extant retiree/pets cited in Ms. Krebs’ report, you’re not going to be far off what the NGA estimates is the adoption rate. It would take nearly 20,000 adoptions per year to sustain the retired population of 200K that Jen Krebs’ article cites.

So now, while I doubt that we have actually learned why Ms. Krebs seems to be no longer officially affiliated with Carey Nation, we have learned that the population estimate she has offered pretty much jives with the NGA’s adoption estimate. But as we know, it’s an inexact science.

Now, what we really have to learn is why so many anti-racing adoption groups, many of them sympathetic to, if not supporters of Carey Nation, encourage adopters not to turn in their blue adoption slips to the NGA for record keeping purposes, or to even contact their greyhound’s breeders and/or former owners. What’s up with that?