Friday, January 27, 2012

Friday Hound Blogging

I'm going to step out of character for a moment today to talk about the Skechers Superbowl commercial. You've probably heard about it. It's ostensibly about how Skechers shoes can make a little French Bulldog faster than racing greyhounds. It was filmed at Tucson Greyhound Park.

When word of the ad first leaked out greyhound rescue groups all over the country responded by attempting to get the company to reconsider. In this effort Grey2K became a rallying point, eventually organizing a boycott campaign when the company refused to kill the ad. You can read about that effort here.

The Skechers company responded by saying that no dogs were injured in the making of the commercial, and it was just meant to be a humorous bit of advertising fluff designed to sell their product. Elements from the greyhound racing industry rallied to the company arguing since no one had actually seen the commercial yet, no critique of it was appropriate.

All true. All completely irrelevant. Our concern isn't the greyhounds in the commercial, they have been rescued. It is their brothers and sisters in the kennels surrounding the Tucson track and at tracks all over the country we are concerned with. The Skechers commercial trivializes their suffering, obscures the abuse they endure and disrespects the fact that thousands of greyhounds are injured and die every year in the barbarous industry that is greyhound racing.

The company says its intent was just to give us a chuckle and get us to think about its sneakers, but I would ask Skechers CEO Michael Greenburg, if he would approve of a funny commercial about dog fighting? About bear baiting? You would say, those activities are illegal, but that greyhound racing is currently sanctioned in no way mitigates the pain a dog suffers as its leg is shattered in a race, the abuse it endures locked in a crate upwards of 22 hours a day on a bed of shredded newspaper in a dark kennel, or the suffering as it slowly starves to death because its owner has walked away.

The supporters of greyhound racing who sided with the Skechers company also missed the point, but they have raised missing the point to an art form. I have engaged many greyhound racing supporters over the years in a variety of arenas, and I've learned that from their perspective, the first rule of debating greyhound racing is don't talk about greyhound racing. Scan a section of comments to an article about greyhound racing, blogs, message boards, or letters to the editor and you will see that a discussion that starts out about the cruelty of greyhound racing very quickly becomes one about Nazis, starving children, vegetarianism, or any of a myriad of subjects, as long as it's not greyhound racing. This is to be expected I suppose. I'm a trained rhetorician and I would find myself hard pressed to mount a defense of an industry built upon the commodification and exploitation of innocent living creatures for profit--and not much profit at that.

I'm willing to accept that the Skechers company did not know about the reputation of the Tucson track when they chose it for filming, a reputation I've written about many times on this blog--specifically to this point, here and here--but now they do, and with knowledge comes responsibility. To refuse to acknowledge the misery that surrounded your commercial, Mr. Greenburg, is to tacitly accept it, and to accept those responsible for it.

This Saturday Grey2K is sponsoring a nationwide protest against the Skechers company. People will be in front of Skechers stores all over the country handing out fliers and explaining the horrors of greyhound racing. Whether you are the activist type or not you can participate by simply educating yourself on the plight of racing greyhounds. If there is any good to come out of the Skechers commercial it will be that it raised the profile of greyhound racing and allowed even more people to see it for the despicable practice that it is.

Jessica’s Smile is very affectionate and asks for attention. She is very playful and comical. She can be a little strong-willed. She is a very smart, quick learner. She does well in crate and will even go in it to take naps. She loves to go for walks and also does well in the car. She loves her stuffies. She is very inquisitive. She has learned to do the stairs and is learning basic commands. Jessica’s Smile would do well in a single person home or with a family. She would do well by herself or with other dogs in the home. She would do well in a home with well-behaved children. For more information about this dog, and other rescued racing greyhounds looking for homes, go here. If you don't know about the plight of racing greyhounds go here.

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