Articles from July 2012



Active Racer Supports His Retired Buddies, Courtesy of Ray Wong

When Cry Calaveras places in the money at Southland Park Gaming and Racing, it’s a win for both Mid-South Greyhound Adoption Option (MSGAO) and the hound’s owner, Ray Wong. That’s because Wong donates 10% of Cal’s winnings to MSGAO.

“As an owner and a greyhound adopter, I believe supporting the work of MSGAO is the right thing to do,” says Wong, who has owned racing dogs for two years and been involved in adoption for a decade. Since coming to Southland’s Northshore Kennel in 2011, Cal has earned more than $1,780 for MSGAO.

“Ray has been a terrific supporter of greyhounds and greyhound adoption,” says Vicki Cohen, MSGAO director. “He’s donated his time and his money to promote adoption. It’s the kind of commitment that is invaluable to what we do.”

In addition to Cal’s winnings, Wong has donated photos and other items to the silent auctions conducted at MSGAO’s annual Fall Reunion, the major fund-raising effort for the track-sponsored adoption program. He also lends a helping hand at a multitude of MSGAO events.

Cal started his racing career at the Birmingham Race Course, where Wong first saw him run. “He was a blue dog who just blew by the other dogs, winning race after race,” says Wong. Wong purchased Cal in July 2011 and moved him to Southland Park Gaming and Racing. “[Southland is] more challenging for him and the payout is better. It seems Cal’s more than up to the challenge — being in the money 60% of the time.”

Wong, a retired Middle Tennessee State University professor and former newspaper editor/photographer, came to racing through adoption. He and his wife, Mardy Fones, adopted their first hound, Bart’s Viper (Mel), a Southland alumnus, in 2002. They became very active volunteers with GPA/Nashville, an all-volunteer organization that finds homes in Middle Tennessee and southern Kentucky for retired racing Greyhounds. They also provide support at events as well as being active in communications for the program. “Along the way, I met a lot of dog people and got interested in the unique culture of the racing greyhound and the people who care for these dogs,” says Wong.

Since 2007, Wong has kept busy shooting photos at tracks, farms and greyhound events to document the lives of dogs from birth to retirement, as well as profiling breeders, kennel staff and other industry professionals who care for the dogs. He hopes to use his photos in a book documenting a culture that’s disappearing as U.S. tracks close. (His work also is showcased on his website, RayHoundTales.com.)

Wong’s ownership of racing greyhounds (rather than adopting retired racers) has gained him entrance into the world of greyhound racing, helping him with the development of his book project. “Gaining the trust of racing people is crucial to the success of this project. I found owning dogs gives industry people a level of comfort,” says Wong. “They accept me as someone who understands their work, their issues and their love of these dogs.”

Wong currently owns 11 racers. At home, he and Mardy have four retired hounds, Okie Darkness (Shadow), another Southland alumnus, as well as Reta Raccoon, Deforest Kelley and senior hound, Athena.

“It’s a privilege to be allowed to photograph these dogs at all phases of their lives and to get to know the people behind the scenes in dog racing,” says Wong. “By donating a portion of Cal’s winnings, I hope I’m promoting in some small way the cause of retired racers everywhere.”

Chris Chance Memorial Feature 2012

The Chris Chance Memorial Feature 2012 was run July 21 at Southland Gaming and Racing, honoring the late Chris Chance, who worked tirelessly for greyhound adoption. Go to this link to view photos of the race and take a moment to remember Chris and his contributions to MSGAO’s adoption program. http://www.flickr.com/photos/dazzleme/sets/72157630730581058/

Why Adopt?

Adopting a greyhound enriches your life, as our Friends of MSGAO Facebook page members testify through the pictures they share. Fun, companionship and devotion all come in one convenient four-legged package!

Deducting Donations: Advice Worth Its Weight in Gold

You may have noticed the “donate now” section on this webpage. Since Mid-South Greyhound Adoption Option is a 501(C)(3) organization, your donations are tax-deductible. However, claiming the deduction for your donations is something you have to do carefully to stay on the good side of the Internal Revenue Service.

The Wall Street Journal’s recent article on claiming deductions has some useful tips to keep in mind when you are filing your income taxes next year and want to write off your donation to support greyhound adoption.

According to the article by Bill Bischoff, if you make a donation worth $250 or more, you must receive a qualified “contemporaneous written acknowledgement” from the charity to claim a charitable deduction. If you don’t get a qualified acknowledgement, you cannot legitimately claim a deduction even if your donation was worth millions. Here’s what Bischoff says you need to know to avoid this fate.

This qualified acknowledgement generally must include the following three items of information:

    1) the amount of cash that you donated and a description (but not the value) of any assets other than cash that were donated;
    2) whether the charity provided you with any goods or services in exchange for the donation (other than intangible religious benefits); and
    3) a description and good-faith estimate of the value of any goods or services provided by the charity in exchange for your donation.

“If your acknowledgement doesn’t supply this information, it is not a qualified acknowledgement, and your deduction goes bye-bye,” Bischoff writes.

According to the tax law, he writes, an acknowledgement is considered “contemporaneous” if you obtain it on or before the earlier of:

    – the date when you file your Form 1040 for the year you made the donation or
    – the due date (including any extension) for filing that return.

Again, Bischoff notes, if you don’t have a qualified acknowledgement in hand by the applicable magic date, your charitable deduction goes bye-bye.

Congress imposed these statutory requirements; harsh penalties can be imposed for violations. Bischoff notes, “The requirement that you must receive a qualified contemporaneous written acknowledgement to claim a charitable deduction for a donation worth $250 or more is absolute unless you have some credible excuse for failing to follow the rules.”

MSGAO will provide qualified contemporaneous acknowledgement (which we consider a receipt) for donations of $250 or more. In fact, we’ll be happy to do so since that means we received a sizeable donation that benefits the retired racers awaiting new homes. Because here the bottom line is: “We are all about the dogs.”