There’s a little part of the gambling world that’s coming into public notice right now and causing both controversy and concern. Now, I have mixed feelings when it comes to sporting events involving animals. Look, as humans we’re supposed to be capable of making intelligent decisions when it comes to gambling. And if we run into problem with that, there are organizations like Gamblers Anonymous to help out. But animals have to depend on the people involved in the sport or gambling event to make the right decision. And lately we’ve been seeing news that just drives home how dangerous these sports may be to the animals involved. For example, HBO canceled the horse racing based drama “Luck” after three horses died during production of the show. While the allure of the race track may pull in millions, most people don’t want an up close and personal look at the risk to the horses and the jockeys involved.
I don’t expect horse racing to go away and of course, I know that owners are going to take every step possible to protect a valuable horse. But today I’m learning about a different racing industry – pigeon racing. Now, I knew pigeon racing existed, but I always assumed it was a sort of rarified sport practiced by a scattered group of pigeon fanciers. It seems so harmless and I certainly didn’t realize the amount of money associated with it. Apparently pigeon racing is responsible for $15 million in gambling money each year in the dark gambling underworld. Yes, pigeons.
So, who’s blowing the lid off pigeon racing? Well, PETA. According to PETA there is a 60 percent fatality rate in the sport – that’s for the pigeons of course, not the gamblers. I don’t think PETA would worry about the gamblers dropping off. Now, you might wonder how there’s such a high rate of death with pigeons who we imagine flying free through the air. Well, consider that Disney World stopped releases of doves after shows because the local hawk population was hanging around for dinner, and you’ll see how the same thing could happen in pigeon racing. Normally pigeons, or doves, work to find safe flying and nesting sites and don’t take to the air when a hawk is around. But when man messes with the natural world, well, he provides a convenient meal for the local raptors.
Will PETA take down pigeon racing? No, probably not. But it’s interesting to watch the story develop.