He didn’t ask for the greyhound to be named after him, but Steve Sarras did it anyway.
Sarras, owner and operator of Sarras Kennels, named one of his most promising greyhounds “Shawn Fluharty” in honor of Del. Shawn Fluharty’s stance on the future of greyhound racing in West Virginia. Initially, the pup was successful and improving when he was involved in a rail accident that resulted in injury.
“Shawn Fluharty” had surgery on a broken leg, was extensively rehabilitated, but wasn’t able to return to competitive racing. Since he has resided in the Midwest, but last Friday evening during the Main Street Bank Fantasy of Lights Parade “Shawn Fluharty” was walking the streets of down Wheeling.
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A Great Dog
“It was terrific to see him during the parade,” the lawmaker Fluharty said. “What a great dog. I am so torn about adopting him because of the amount of time I’m not home. Plus, I have another dog, and he can be pretty territorial, so I don’t know.
“I’ll admit, there are times when I think I’m going to make that call, but for some reason something stops me,” he admitted. So, I really don’t know what my decision will be. He’s currently in the adoption portal, so you never know.”
Shawn’s father visited Charleston last year during the regular session.
Fluharty, though, has been attacked thanks to his namesake because of that injury with the Grey2K non-profit framing it as a debilitating injury to an innocent animal, and as an example of the alleged abuse they insist takes place within the industry.
“These greyhounds are loved”
“And there’s nothing further from the truth,” said Fluharty, a graduate of John Marshall High School and WVU. “I know these people, and I have visited their facilities. These greyhounds are loved probably better than some pets, and they are a very friendly breed.
“But there are some people, like Senate President Mitch Carmichael, who have chosen to spread the lies that Grey2K have created. The abuse isn’t reality, the employment numbers the senator offered are way off, and the alleged subsidy is not a subsidy because taxpayer dollars do not go into it,” he said. “If you don’t go to the casino or racetrack to play the machines or the dogs, then you haven’t contributed a single cent to the purse fund.”
Attacked for Defending Greyhound Racing
He expects more attacks during his bid for re-election in 2020, and Fluharty believes other lawmakers who defend the greyhound industry will encounter smear campaigns against their candidacy, too. Dels. Errika Storch, Joe Canestraro, Lisa Zukoff, and Sen. Bill Ihlenfeld all have voiced their support for greyhound racing.
“They have a lot of money to spend, and they even admitted a few months ago when their statement was that they planned to launch an unprecedented campaign against the greyhound-racing industry. You can’t do that unless you have a lot of money to spend,” Fluharty said. “They’ve hired Conrad Lucas as their lobbyist, so he’s got the ears of Republican leadership because he’s the former chairman of the state GOP. That’s one reason why I know it’s going to be a battle.”
Fluharty will run for a fourth term in 2020.
The West Virginia Legislature returns to Charleston for Gov. Jim Justice’s State of the State Address on Jan. 9 and then begins its regular session the next day. Gov. Justice announced last month that more than a $100 million in spending reductions would be necessary to balance the state’s books, and the senate president already has notified voters his plan to help perpetrate Grey2K’s infiltration.
“We are in this fiscal crisis, and those people are suggesting we cut an industry that makes the state money through the Lottery Commission and in tourism. That’s one of the things that make this whole thing crazy. The industry makes money for the state, it’s a tourist attraction, and it’s something our neighboring states don’t have, and that means they have to come to West Virginia,” Fluharty said. “Those are reason why this is so frustrating to me.
“Another lie they are telling involves the jobs involved, and they also are discounting a study of the industry conducted five years ago by the business department of WVU that revealed there are 1,700 total jobs in the greyhound industry, and that number includes 1,100 here in Marshall, Ohio, and Brooke counties,” he continued. “But the people behind this campaign are discounting the study from our state’s flagship university, and the senate president is going along with it. I’m sorry, but I’ll go with WVU all day long.”
“Ugly” is Fluharty’s prediction for the anti-greyhound campaign.
“They’re just going to continue telling the same lies, and as soon as one of us in the Northern Panhandle defends the industry, we’ll be made out to be some kind of evil,” Fluharty insisted. “They’ve already done it, and they will continue to do so.
“I’m not worried, though, because the voters who elected me know I’m not evil and that I’ll have their backs when they need me,” he added. “That’s how this works. You’re elected to represent the people.”