Monday, May 09, 2005

OK. It's A Very Very VERY Bad Cold

We usually like to stay away from the overlords a full week before revisiting their squalid little corner of reality. Mostly because it takes that long for our jostled sense of equilibrium to return after a ride on the Overlord Express, but we thought this update about the sick dogs on the east coast was important enough for us to risk wearing our lunch and take another spin through their scruple free neighborhood.

The article starts out straight forward enough: "A killer mystery virus that has dropped racing dogs across the country is now sweeping into New England's troubled greyhound racetrack industry. Rhode Island's Lincoln Park has seen six greyhounds die in less than two weeks from what may be a form of 'canine influenza' that ripped through racetracks in Florida and elsewhere."

Then we pass the sign post that announces we've just entered the twilight zone: "However, state racetrack regulators insist the closures are due to a much milder - and typically nonlethal - malady called 'kennel cough.'"

Those dogs that are dead? They're not really dead. It just looks that way to the untrained eye. See, being involved in greyhound racing means years of study and apprenticeship at the feet of masters. They know when a dog is dead and when it isn't. "We prefer to call it, terminal unit depreciation," said Lincoln Park spokesman Michael Trainor.

"You have some deadly illness that is infecting the greyhound racing industry nationally,'' said Cary Theil, head of Grey2K USA. There is no doubt in my mind that this is the same illness that is affecting dogs in Florida.''

Theil's prognosis got some cautious backing from University of Florida researcher Cynda Crawford, who has studied the deadly canine illness. Told of the greyhound deaths in Rhode Island, Crawford, a veterinarian, said she had never seen a case of the relatively run-of-the-mill 'kennel cough' kill a dog.

Still, Massachusetts regulators say local racetracks appear to have sidestepped the more serious virus killing dogs elsewhere. "Our dead dogs aren't as dead as the dogs in Florida," said a spokesperson for the racing industry.

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