Note: This article was written by Sidney Stafford. Please forward any comments or suggestions about this article directly to the author.
NO TO DACHSHUND RACING !?!
Dachshund Racing, based on terrier sprints, has been a fun activity over the years at dachshund fun days, speciality shows, and even our Nationals. The racing was informal, private and safely run on grass in fenced enclosures or in large a ballroom on rubber mats which was the setting for the 1994 National in Northern California.
Sadly problems developed which have poisoned this light-hearted romp. The problems originated with a Miller Lite computer animated commercial depicting two dachshunds racing and were compounded when the Miller Brewing Co. expanded its campaign by sponsoring dachshund racing at greyhound tracks. This change of setting drastically altered the nature of the event.
The Greyhound racing industry has seen a dramatic decline in attendance over the past few years due in part to public awareness as the result of this commercial enterprise: the abuse and death of tens of thousands of animals yearly. Crowd pleasing dachshunds have become the the breed of choice to lure the public back to the dog track. The dog racing industry employs the extensive use of public relation firms who work diligently at finding ways to attract people back to its gambling facilities. Print, TV and even bus ads have been employed. Other breeds have been used, but no breed works as well as the dachshund and there are thousands of owners that want their 15 minutes of fame. While many see something rather comical or "isn't it cute" about a running dachshund, there nothing cute about greyhound racing, or the more then 20,000 greyhounds who are "put down" every year.
Many,many "Weiner dog" racing days have occurred at greyhound tracks around the country. At one of the more recent races, Phoenix Greyhound Park, Feb 25, '95 charity was used as a "cover". Some 900 applications were received and each applicant was charged a $5.00 entry fee. Thirty dachshunds were drawn for the night of racing. The usual $1.00 admission was raised to $3.00 and The Phoenix Greyhound Park tripled their usual Saturday night attendance. The Phoenix chapter of United Cerebral Palsy raised $35,000.00 on the "Weiner dog" events. Other tracks have drawn equally large crowds and revenue each time they have had "Weiner dog" racing.
Last Fall the opening promotional gimmick for a Knoxville Cherokee hockey game was Dachshund racing. Those of us in the Northeast, breeders and owners alike who weathered the Winter of '94, dealt with numerous injuries to our dogs caused by slipping and twisting on the icy footing. It is mindboggling that anyone would willing run their own dog on a ice rink. The Knoxville event was a disturbing example of what schemers can and will do do to draw an audience, and how the naive pet owner is used unwittingly.
The Board of Directors of the Dachshund Club of America has publicly stated: "DCA believes that such racing is bad for the breed by encouraging the breeding of dogs for that purpose rather than examples of the breed standard as recognized by the American Kennel Club. Racing also encourages the misuse of the dogs which are not designed for this activity. Dachshunds are designed to "go to ground", or to go underground. They are not designed to be a racing breed. "DCA is greatly troubled by any association with greyhound tracks which historically have been directly related to the mistreatment and death of thousands of greyhounds. Currently, the Club is asking Miller to discontinue sponsoring Dachshund races at any sporting event and any future use of the commercial that led to them. DCA has already notified its members of its new policy and is counseling its members not to participate in these events."
Every effort is being make to target the dachshund pet owner and let them know what the consequence are when they enter their little pet in these functions. Computer networking has proved a very good tool to reach the public and the various networks have been active with educational Dachshund racing news. There are many dog publications that have printed short notices and will be featuring longer articles including The AKC Gazette. A dialogue has begun with The American Veterinary Association on the problem, and a simple flier outlining our objections to Dachshund racing is being prepared.
Additional efforts are being made to let the Dog Fancy know what is going on. Dachshund club members are contacting their local all breed clubs and are offering information and making presentations at meetings. This in turn should lead to wider public education, as well as greater cooperation between clubs to promote the well-being of the purebred dog.
It is our very strong feeling that all Dachshund racing under any circumstances should be stopped. It is terribly sad that we should have to give up something that brought fun to so many, but there cannot be a double standard. Those of us active with our dogs in the show ring, field, obedience and other AKC events cannot pursue an activity, and then tell pet owners that they should not do the same thing. Today's world is one where manipulation is an everyday occurrence. The Dachshund is being used as a gimmick to bring more misery to the greyhound. Could the misery appear in future of the Dachshund? We already have a problem with The Unwanted. In the Northeast, in the past three years, our Dachshund Rescue has placed over 300 Unwanted Dachshunds. Increased Dachshund racing will only add to the problem. We must stop this exploitative use of two noble breeds.
Dachshunds on the WWW is maintained by John Standifird.
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