Animal rights organization official backs Maloney
The co-founder of an animal rights organization backed Republican Bill Maloney's quest for governor Tuesday.
Carey Theil, executive director of Grey2K USA, a Massachusetts-based nonprofit working to outlaw greyhound racing, said dog lovers should support Maloney.
Why? Acting Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin, Maloney's chief rival, is closely tied to the greyhound racing, an industry that Grey2K considers cruel.
Tomblin's mother and brother breed and race the dogs. They have also received a few million dollars in state subsidies to do so. That's an issue Maloney has hammered Tomblin on during the campaign.
"The choice is clear," Theil said in a blog post. "If Tomblin wins, greyhound breeders will continue receiving millions of dollars in subsidies, and dog racing will continue regardless of whether people bet on the races.
"This means that greyhounds will continue enduring lives of confinement and suffer serious injuries at West Virginia tracks," he said.
Grey2K USA has helped defeat attempts to subsidize dog races with gambling profits in more than a half dozen states. The money that goes to subsidize racing in West Virginia comes from casino gambling operations.
"In West Virginia, greyhound racing only exists today because the law requires that two casinos hold dog races in order to conduct other forms of gambling," Theil said. "Greyhound breeders also receive millions of dollars in subsidies annually, funds that would otherwise go to the state."
Earlier this year, Grey2K helped bring attention to the number of dogs injured over the past six years at Mardi Gras racetrack.
More than 3,200 injuries were reported at the Nitro track from the beginning of 2005 to the end of 2010, an average of about 1.4 injuries per day, records filed with the West Virginia Racing Commission show.
At least 152 dogs suffered injuries that were so severe they had to be euthanized. At least seven died as a result of illnesses contracted in the kennels.
More than 700 injuries were reported between January 2008 and September 2009 at Wheeling Island, West Virginia's other dog track,
Theil said his favorite Maloney ad featured Holly, Maloney's golden retriever that passed away several weeks ago.
Theil notes Maloney's touching words at Holly's death.
"By contrast," Theil writes. "Maloney's opponent is long-time politician Earl Ray Tomblin. Tomblin's mother and brother are both greyhound breeders and he has staunchly defended greyhound racing, an industry that is cruel and inhumane."
A spokesman for the Tomblin campaign declined to comment.
It's not clear if Theil's endorsement can speak for the full organization because it is a tax-exempt group that can have only limited involvement in politics.
Maloney's attacks on Tomblin have often centered on the state money his family has received. But the ad goes a little far in its accusations.
For instance, one ad said Tomblin had once voted "to direct" the money to his family business as a member of the Legislature. While Tomblin did vote for the bill that set up the fund, the money is distributed based on the performance of the dogs and is not something Tomblin directly controls.
Contact writer Ry Rivard at email@example.com or 304-348-1796.