Doped dogs, caged cats and other sports scandals
By Jennifer O’Connor
Dogs being doped. Big cats hauled to football games. Greyhounds discarded then bled. From racetracks to playing fields to school gymnasiums, animals are being forced to participate in sporting events — even though it puts their health and safety at risk. It’s time to stop exploiting animals just to satisfy our whims.
News that some dogs on four-time Iditarod winner Dallas Seavey’s team tested positive for an opioid pain reliever called Tramadol recently made headlines around the world. But dog doping may be the least of the Iditarod’s abuses. Forced to run full out for 1,000 miles in hellish weather conditions, dogs can suffer from bleeding stomach ulcers, diarrhea, dehydration and other debilitating conditions.
At least 150 dogs have perished, all so that mushers can win a truck and bask in glory that they haven’t earned, since the dogs do all the hard work.
Other mushers have exposed the massive numbers of dogs who are killed (euphemistically called “culling”) simply because they can’t or won’t run the equivalent of four marathons a day. Dog sledding is a ruthless industry, one in which dogs pay with their lives.
Then there are the lions and tigers who are used as mascots on college campuses. Anyone who has attended a college football game can attest to the sheer intensity of these events.
The stadiums are always packed with people and actually vibrate with the energy and enthusiasm of the spectators. But the bright lights, hordes of screaming fans and marching bands are terrifying to animals, who can’t possibly understand what’s going on.
Even if they’re not taken to games, it’s stressful and cruel to subject wild animals to a bustling university environment and force them into close proximity with crowds of people day in and day out.
And even though tracks are mostly empty, greyhounds are still being forced to race so that humans can gamble on them. Illness and injuries — including broken legs, heatstroke and heart attacks — claim the lives of many dogs.
Countless greyhounds are also killed each year when breeders decide that they won’t be fast enough to win races.
They have been shot, bludgeoned or simply abandoned to fend for themselves. Some even end up suffering on blood factory farms, where they’re forced to live in cramped kennels and their blood is repeatedly drawn and sold to veterinarians to be used for transfusions for other dogs. They go crazy from the intense stress and confinement.
Speaking of crazy, how is “donkey basketball” still a “thing”? Some schools still hold these fundraisers in which students and faculty members shoot hoops from the backs of donkeys, who are supplied by a couple of companies that rent them out as if they were carnival equipment.
They are frequently mishandled by unruly riders, who are more caught up in putting on a show for the spectators than in treating these personable animals with the care that they deserve. During games, the donkeys may be punched, kicked, screamed at or whipped for being “uncooperative.”
With the limitless ways that we have to entertain ourselves, why should animals have to suffer for our pleasure? Surely, we can all agree that there’s nothing sporting about hurting them.