Monday, December 12, 2011

Pre-Adoption : Could we turn the system upside down?

Recently a friend of mine sent me this link regarding a raffle for a quality bred up and coming racing dog. All proceeds for the raffle go to the "GREYHOUNDS AS PETS OF NORTHEAST FLORIDA" organization. Racing Dog Raffle The short version is if you win the raffle, you get 35% of the winnings of the dog, and of course can take him/her home as yours when their racing career is over. I think this is a wonderful idea and got me thinking of the current adoption model.

I have been leafing through John Semyour's "The Self-Sufficient Life and How to Live It" and I thought he made some interesting points about specialization within our society. Our society has become extremely organizationally focused where people specialize in one thing work for salary and then pay others to perform their own specializations. One of the issues with this is that as people's specializations become obsolete or as economic downturn effects the organization as a whole, individuals are left with little to do to support themselves. Another issue is that any optimization that occurs is not for the system as a whole, but rather each component of the system is optimized for monetary output with little thought to long term viability.

I see parallels here between what I believe has happened in the greyhound racing industry. My understanding of the current greyhound system is that there are many players involved in greyhound racing being, Breeding Farms, Owners, Racing Kennels, Tracks, Gamblers and Adopters. Of course there is cross over between roles such as Farms and Owners, but to a large extent I believe the roles are disjoint. Since the system is optimized for money, many owners may have never laid eyes on the dogs they own. At the other end of the spectrum, many adopters have never been to a farm to see how the dogs are raised, nor a racing kennel to see how they are kept through their career. These disjoint roles have lead to a mistrust between the players where they see each other as necessary or in some cases, unnecessary evils. I think the sport aspect of greyhound racing has been totally over shadowed by the monetary and gambling aspects.

What if we could turn this system on its head? What if adopters partnered with farms and owners? I know as a current adopter of two hounds, that in 5 to 7 years I will be looking to adopt more. Coincidentally, a greyhounds racing career usually is over when they are 3 to 5 years old. We could strive for a system where greyhounds are adopted before they even go to the track and have a stake and voice in their success and well being.

I think this approach could accomplish a few things. It could revive interest in greyhound racing as a sport rather than just as a declining gambling venue. Adopters, who presumably have the long term interest of the specific greyhound that is going to be occupying their couches, in mind would have a voice interest in both their dogs well being and performance. Dogs would be more likely to stay local to the area's of the adopters/owners throughout their career. Depending on how the relationship was setup, kennels and owners and farms would be confident their dogs had homes and would not have to scramble to get groups to accept them. They would also be subject to less 'bad press' surrounding racing as the sport would become more 'elevated'
in the public perception. On the negative side for adopters, adopting early in the process we would not be able to "find the right home for the right dog" as the dog we adopt as a pup is the dog we have.

I'm sure many will find my views of this over simplistic and they probably are. New adopters are not going to wait around 3 to 5 years to get a dog, they will just move onto another breed. Well certainly this system could not be implemented overnight. I would say this could be a trend or technique repeat adopters could follow. The movement could be an organic rather than legislated. New adopters could get their dogs through the existing adoption / foster system. Repeat adopters could forge these aforementioned relationships and the fact that they are "repeats" would say something about their long term intention and interest in the dogs.

Greyhounds love to run and to race. Perhaps this is a way help improve the system, continue to give the hounds the opportunities to race, and make it more sustainable. Comments and suggestions are always welcome.


Hiking Hounds said...

This sounds interesting. I don't know a lot about the racing system, but like other things when lots of money becomes involved it seems like things can go bad. The dogs definitely love to run. Your point about the disconnect between all the players is good. Having that connection would really help the hounds.

JLM said...

This is a great idea. It would be more in line with how agility competitions are handled: Where you have dogs with owners who have a vested interest in their canine athlete. It would also be a great way to turn dog racing into a hobby for anyone to enjoy. This might even revive the sport of dog racing. I think image is a huge reason why you can see agility competitions on TV at least once a year but not dog racing.

Angela J. said...

I stopped by to let you know I nominated you for a Leibster Blog Award. Like all these awards there are some instructions to follow. You can check it out on my blog.

houndstooth said...

There is a program called Follow That Hound that does a lot of what you're talking about. People get to see pictures of the puppies as they grow up and hear stories about them. Some don't race long and end up in their preadopted homes early and some race a long time.

Bunny was actually supposed to be part of a preadoption program, but the trainer didn't know and sent her to our adoption group by mistake. It worked out in her favor. Her sister went to the preadopter who'd also wanted Bunny, and I later learned that the woman was a hoarder. All her dogs were surrendered to a group out there. Groups near her knew about the problem and wouldn't adopt to her, so she came halfway across the country to get more.

My experiences with our hounds' previous owners have all been good ones. Treat's owner remembered her, told us all kinds of stuff about her littermates and offered to let us adopt one of her sister's puppies. I think you're right, if there were more connection, things would run a lot smoother!

Never Say Never Greyhounds said...

Its definitely and interesting concept. I'd be such a pain in the butt pre-adopter. I probably am best waiting till the end to adopt and get involved.