Wednesday, 2 April 2008

Dogs Today magazine

The April edition of Dogs Today magazine runs an article by its regular columnist, vet Emma Milne. When she wrote this article, Ms Milne had had a bad day. She had to treat a small dog that had been savaged by two greyhounds. Now you know that I love greyhounds and for this to have been allowed to happen is unforgiveable. My heart goes out to the owners of the dog that was attacked. I can't imagine how they must be feeling.

However, Ms Milne has dealt with this by venting her spleen in an article in a well-respected national magazine, Dogs Today. This magazine is edited by Beverley Cuddy, whose blog I have read for some time. I am extremely disappointed that Beverley has admitted that she didn't even read the article before it was published as she was too busy with VAT returns and that, had she read it, she would have pulled it. Beverley, you have done a lot of good work, particularly in respect of the "killer-poodles", but you have let yourself down badly on this one.

Ms Milne was understandably sickened by the attack, any sane person would be. But it is her knee-jerk reaction that is appalling everyone involved in greyhound rescue at the moment. Ms Milne is judging the whole breed on this incident and another she had previously heard about. Ms Milne states

"I am sure that there are thousands of greyhounds that have been rehomed successfully and I am by no means suggesting that they are all bad, but do the good justify the actions of the bad?"


"Greyhounds seem to attack other dogs almost without realising they are the same species. It is this instant, knee-jerk instinct to chase and kill anything small enough to be considered prey that makes them so deadly."

She asks

"Is it morally acceptable to breed a dog with this purpose in mind"

"...If a breed of dog kills animals on a regular basis, we should be asking whether this should continue?"

She goes on....

"If racing greyhounds are bred solely for racing then would it be more sensible to regard them as we would a beef cow or a sheep? We (the omnivorous of the population) accept that at the end of their working life, such animals are humanely destroyed. If we accept that animals have no anticipation of death, or fear of it, then humane euthanasia at any age and any state of health can be seen as acceptable."

"If it is true that greyhounds kill many more animals than most dogs, then this would be seen as unacceptable. If we find that we cannot ethically justify the euthanasia of all racing greyhounds on the off-chance that they will kill someones pet or livestock at the end of their racing live, then the logical conclusion seems to be that we should not be breeding or racing greyhounds at all."

So, on the basis of two incidents, Ms Milne is suggesting that we should seriously consider thinking of greyhounds as "livestock" and that at the end of their working lives it could be considered ethical to euthanise them.

Ms Milne is a vet. Someone whose first consideration should be the welfare of all animals. If she were calling for the euthanasia of one dog who had killed another, I could possibly understand her viewpoint. But she isn't. She is seriously suggesting that all of this breed be wiped out.

Has Ms Milne not heard of the phrase "Deed not Breed"? Greyhound rescues work hard to educate the public to the sorry plight that befalls racing greyhounds at the end of their working life. Yes they have a chase instinct that has been honed for racing. But many don't and that is why they end up in dog pounds because their owners don't want them if they won't race. Rescues work hard to educate people that greyhounds can learn to live with small animals and if they can't, that dog won't be homed to anyone with small animals. Rescues work hard to educate potential owners that some greyhounds should be muzzled when out and about - to prevent this very sort of incident happening.

Does Ms Milne condemn the owner for allowing these two dogs to be out unmuzzled? No, she blames the whole breed. And suggests they are all euthanised. With all the furore over Staffie/pitbull types I have never read anyone suggesting that they all be euthanised. It's generally accepted that Staffies are loving, if protective, dogs and that it is in the wrong hands that they become killing machines. Greyhounds are trained to race for the benefit of man's entertainment. Is it right that the breed be condemned?

You know that I know from experience what a greyhound can do.....again, man was at fault.

In one fell swoop, Ms Milne has undone all the work of all the greyhounds rescues across the country and condemned this wonderful breed once again.


  1. That is *terrible*. I can't believe that a) anyone, let alone a vet, wrote that and b) that she has any clients at all. I'd be changing dog doctors right now if she were mine. And I can't believe her going on like that about Greyhounds...we have several in our neighborhood, all rescues, and they are excellent dogs. Yes, a bit inclined to get really excited if one of the local wild rabbits crosses their path, but my two non-Greyhound dogs also react the same way.

    Speaking of breed specific stupidity, in the US and Canada there are those who advocate wiping out Pit Bulls/Staffies with a similar sort of hysteria and it sickens me to hear anyone act like that about any breed.

    We live a 40 minute's drive from the province of Ontario but will not ever visit it again while they have breed specific legislation in place. Any dog they *think* may be a Pit Bull who comes into the province, even if they're just driving thru, can be confiscated from it's owner and, if it's lucky, euthanized. If it's not lucky, it can be confiscated and sent to medical labs.

    Pits who lived in Ontario prior to them being outlawed can remain, but must wear a muzzle whenever outside and must be spayed/neutered, thus they are effectively killing out the breed in that province over the course of the next 15 years. As a result, I will not visit this province or spend any of my money there.

    Despite the fact that I have a vet certificate claiming my rescue dog Clara Bow to be a Ridgeback Mix, I still will never take her to Ontario because enough uneducated people have thrown out the occasional "is that a Pit Bull?" remark about her (despite being too tall, too slight, and looking like a Ridgeback/Shepherd cross!). It really bothers me that I can't take her to lure coursing fun runs and such that are practically in our backyard because of this hysteria.

    This is actually a contributing factor in my wish to move out of the area. This type of thinking is taking over large segments of the population in the lower 48 of the US as well as eastern Canada. Plus, in my area, too much reactionary hysteria is crossing the border and causing people out here to consider banning breeds on a community-wide basis. I don't need to worry that the police will pull us over because we are unknowingly driving through a town with a dog that might, in the eyes of the resident police, potentially be a banned breed.

    Not to even touch upon the fact that I've known multiple lovely Pit Bulls (my mom owns one, a 14 or 15 year old rescue) and I think the hysteria where people single out a specific breed or breeds for exclusion or termination just a really bad idea.

    I can't believe she wrote that.

  2. I totally agree that man is usually at fault when it comes to attack incidents. Leashes and muzzles exist for a reason. If you can't control your dog by voice command, then at LEAST put him or her on a leash!

    And speaking as a magazine writer (which is what I do full-time), I can't imagine my editor publishing something without reading it. There is no excuse for that to happen, especially if it's an opinion piece.

  3. Good lord! Unbelievable. I suppose there should be tabby cat farms where they are treated like beef cattle because of the devastation they wreak on birds?
    Perhaps this thoughtless article will create such a backlash firestorm of response that it will actually do more good for the greyhounds.

    here's hoping-

  4. Excellent Angela, I still can hardly believe that Emma Milne wrote such an unthinking article, the result of which could be extremely devastating for greyhounds and the rescues dedicated to helping them. Its a very sad day.


  5. I read the article, and it's all based on nonsensical suppositions and outright prejudice. IF we accept that the moon is made of green cheese, and IF as is well known, all items of dairy produce are evil, then the moon is evil and must be destroyed - that's the level of argument she's using, and I'm baffled how she ever got through vet school. Certainly wouldn't want her attempting to diagnose one of my pets.

  6. As Patience wrote, it's the HUMANS! (d&*! it -- but that's my editorial comment).

    I live in the US countryside. Here, at least, people understand animals and their drives. A colleague of mine has GOLDEN RETRIEVERS (you know, that nice fuzzy pet that families love). Their goldens, which roam their 40 acre property do kill small animals, even a few domestic ones. Ahh, but it does seem to be the motivation of some to just outlaw animals, despite the benefit that they provide so many people.

  7. Beverley would probably have been better printing an article on the care you should take when you trust someone to look after your beloved pet!

  8. Ooh I see my "I'm so brave I don't have the guts to print my name" commentor is back again.

    Perhaps if you have read my post you will see that I acknowledged that and know that human error was the cause.

  9. Wow, I don't know what to say that other commenters haven't already said, but this really makes me sick that someone would say an entire breed should be done away with.

  10. Brilliant post AOJ, and it's so sad that a whole breed can be condemned over the actions of a few. I didn't even know greyhounds had any kind of reputation for this kind of thing so it can't be that common. My cousin has a greyhound and a lurcher and they are gorgeous, gentle and sweet.

    It's also so sad that this article got printed. I think I'd quite possibly be changing vets.

  11. I always enjoy reading your blog Angela, but this made me so mad, and bought tears of frustration. i agree with handh- it is lazy journalism -all if and if.

    I don't muzzle but I do always keep the dogs on a lead- just because I wouldn't want them to race off into the never never. Any dog is potentially dangerous - and yep I'm one of those that blame the owners.
    lets hope the magazine prints a retraction.

    Gina x

  12. Gosh! I agree with the above. Thank you for your kind words. I have a head concussion and sore, but I'm good.

  13. It is awful..reminds me of people in power that have done this to humans. Scary thought that a vet who is there to save could possible think of this. how terrible!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!makes me wonder how they could print it!!

  14. Here, in my neck of the woods, Pits are the target of choice for the "Let's outlaw the entire breed" folks. I had not heard anything negative about Greyhounds. What a crock!

    My husband, when viewing ill-behaved children, always says, "Someone ought to slap that child's mama." The same thing should apply to dogs.

  15. Angela, I agree with you. I'm too much of a dog person to blame the dogs. As others have said, here in America, it's the Pits that get all the greif, but in our family we've had no problem with our pits. One daughter had a problem with a dalmation.

    Shame on that vet. Shame on that editor. Shame on the magazine. You should re-consider your subscrption.

  16. That's really upsetting. I don't believe the editor didn't read it, but maybe I'm just cynical.

    Any dog has the ability to be dangerous. Owners have a responsibility to the dog and to every other creature and person to do whatever they need to do to ensure their dog is under control. To single out a breed, especially based on such shaky evidence, is ridiculous.

  17. This is upsetting in so many ways. What a fantastic post this is and I've enjoyed reading the comments too!!

  18. Ms Milne needs a muzzle, too maybe?


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