Friday, December 30, 2011

A Greyhound Christmas Story

As we celebrate the holiday season with friends and family, it's nice to be reminded that wishes really can come true.

That is certainly the case with DeeDee the greyhound. Her touching story was posted on YouTube on Christmas eve, and chronicles her journey from racing dog, to adopted friend, to trusted service dog.

Please watch her story here, and follow her on the blog Around With the Hound. Finally, please consider supporting greyhound adoption by checking out our Adoption Links page. There is no better time to find a new friend!

Thursday, December 22, 2011

Happy Holidays from GREY2K USA

This is the time of year when we are reminded of the important things in life: family, friendship and kindheartedness. Personally, I feel blessed to have another Christmas with Zoe, and of course with the rest of our family too!

In the spirit of the season, please consider supporting greyhound adoption. On our adoption links page, you will find dozens of wonderful organizations that need help. All of these organizations are in need of financial assistance. Also, if you see a greyhound adoption organization near you please considering volunteering some of your time. Finally, please consider adopting a greyhound yourself.

It is better to give then receive, and there are plenty of greyhounds that are waiting for your help!

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

My Top Ten Greyhound Stories for 2011

A lot has happened in the greyhound world over the last year. Greyhound protection advocates have won powerful victories, but also suffered heartbreaking defeats.

Below, you will find my top ten list of greyhound stories for 2011.

10. Pennsylvania lawmakers vote to prohibit greyhound simulcasting.

In July, Pennsylvania Governor Tom Corbett signed House Bill 67 into law, which prohibited greyhound simulcast gambling in the state. The measure was unanimously approved by lawmakers, and was supported by Citizens Against Greyhound Racing.

9. Skechers and Mark Cuban film a Super Bowl ad at Tucson Greyhound Park.

Skechers raised the ire of humane minded citizens in November when they partnered with Mark Cuban to film a Super Bowl advertisement at Tucson Greyhound Park. A Skechers executive later backpedaled, telling GREY2K USA that "we don't even know if that footage we (sic) ever appear in a commercial." Despite this retreat, the company has not yet pledged to pull the ad.

8. More evidence is uncovered of cruelty and neglect at Tucson Greyhound Park.

Tucson Greyhound Park is one of the most notorious dog tracks in the world, and their poor reputation was repeatedly reinforced in 2011.

Most notably, the terrible confinement greyhounds endure at Tucson was again highlighted when we received photographs that were taken by a Pima County investigator. These photographs documented kennel conditions that are nearly identical to what our investigators found in 2010. Hundreds of greyhounds live in small cages at the track, in dark warehouse style kennels. Most of the dogs are muzzled in their cages.

In addition to this evidence of greyhound confinement, several documented cases of neglect occurred at Tucson Greyhound Park in 2011. In June, a kennel inspection revealed poor conditions. According to the report:
"Floors filthy (urine & feces)/refridgerator covered inside and out with blood (from meat)"
The kennel also "could not produce a log" indicating the ultimate fate of greyhounds that had raced for the kennel. Finally, the trainer responsible for the dogs, Willard J. Eyler, refused to sign the inspection report.

In September, a greyhound trainer was fined $1,000 by the state for "failing to turn out and care for the greyhounds" in the kennel he worked in. According to state records, the dogs were not let out of their cages to relieve themselves for at least eight hours before a state investigator discovered the problem. A few days later, another trainer was fined $100 after he brought four greyhounds to race with an "excessive amount of fleas."

As long as Tucson Greyhound Park remains open, dogs will suffer and die at this facility.

7. West Virginia voters narrowly elect dog racing supporter Earl Ray Tomblin.

In November, dog racing supporter Earl Ray Tomblin defeated Bill Maloney by less than 3% to become West Virginia's next Governor. Greyhound racing became an issue in the campaign, when Maloney pledged to end millions of dollars in state subsidies greyhound breeders now receive.

Because this was a special election the seat is up again at the end of this year, and it appears likely that we will see another Tomblin versus Maloney race.

6. Greyhound advocacy blossoms all over the globe.

Across the world, more advocates fought for greyhound protection in 2011 than ever before. In India, Beauty Without Cruelty is continuing to fight the legalization of dog racing in Punjab. Their effort this year included a petition representing more than four million individuals.

Other groups speaking up for greyhounds include Animals Australia, Animals Asia, Greytexploitations and the Greyhound Protection League of New Zealand.

In August, greyhound protection advocates won a major victory when a special commission recommended against legalizing greyhound racing in South Africa. GREY2K USA President Christine Dorchak had previously met with representatives of the commission and provided input, and we were gratified when they made the humane choice.

5. The world waits for the Canidrome's decision in the Rescue Brooklyn campaign.

Every year, hundreds of greyhounds are exported from Australia to the Canidrome in Macau, where they will eventually die after racing at the track. This ongoing tragedy led GREY2K USA to ask for the release of a single dog, named Brooklyn. If the track allows it, we intend to send Brooklyn back home to Australia where he can be adopted out.

The attempt to Rescue Brooklyn is a test case, to see if all the Canidrome dogs can be helped. So far, the track has not answered our request. The entire world is watching to see how it responds.

4. Thousands of greyhound injuries are documented in West Virginia and Texas.

In February, the Charleston Daily Mail reported that more than 3,000 greyhound injuries have been reported at Tri-State racetrack since 2005. This story was based on research from GREY2K USA, and led to a subsequent pro-greyhound editorial by the Daily Mail Editorial Board. In part, the editorial read:
It's repugnant that injuries are the part of the nature of the sport. Greyhounds are fast but fragile, and races involve much bumping ... Why does the state continue to allow such a gruesome sport?
Meanwhile, in October the Houston Chronicle reported on greyhound injuries at Gulf Greyhound Park. Their front-page story cited GREY2K USA research which shows that more than 1,300 greyhound injuries have been reported at Gulf since 2008. During the same period, 49 greyhounds died or were euthanized at the track.

3. Legislative bills to decouple greyhound racing are considered in three states.

In Florida, a bill to decouple greyhound racing from other forms of gambling passed by large margins in both the House and Senate, but failed on the last day of session when the two chambers could not agree on relatively minor differences. The Florida decoupling bill would have helped thousands of greyhounds, and started the process of ending dog racing in the Sunshine state.

Although the measure ultimately did not become law, greyhound protection advocates won the substantive debate and educated lawmakers about the dog racing industry. Similar proposals were also considered in Iowa and Arizona.

I expect greyhound decoupling to be considered again in all three of these states in 2012, and am optimistic that these proposals will become law.

2. GREY2K USA releases groundbreaking report on Greyhound Racing in Florida.

In early December, GREY2K USA released the first-ever report on greyhound racing in Florida. The report was made possible in part by a grant from the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, and provides a look inside Florida's thirteen dog tracks.

Across the state, as many as 8,000 greyhounds endure lives of terrible confinement and suffer serious injuries. Also, since 2004 there have been at least nine severe cases of neglect at Florida dog tracks and associated kennel compounds.

The public now has more information about greyhound racing in Florida than ever before, something that should result in positive action for the dogs.

1. Greyhound trainer pleads guilty to 39 cruelty counts, receives prison sentence.

Finally, my top greyhound story for 2011 occurred in October when greyhound trainer Ronald Williams plead guilty to 39 counts of animal cruelty. He had been arrested the previous year last year after law enforcement authorities discovered dozens of dead greyhounds in his kennel at Ebro Greyhound Park. According to state officials, the dogs died from starvation, dehydration, or asphyxia.

Williams was sentenced to five years in prison for each charge, with the sentences to run concurrently.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Latest Greyhound Breeder Smears Cross the Line, Show Their Desperation

Last Spring, dog racing supporters engaged in a campaign of smear tactics while trying to defeat a commonsense proposal to decouple greyhound racing in Florida. They even went so far as to call State Senator Maria Sachs, a sponsor of the bill, a "condescending cow."

Thankfully, their smears had little impact on the legislative debate. Over their objections, greyhound decoupling bills passed overwhelmingly in both the State House and Senate, and nearly became law. This year we are working even harder to pass these important measures, which will help thousands of greyhounds in the Sunshine State.

Meanwhile, at the same time that we are renewing our fight to help Florida's greyhounds, greyhound breeders have unleashed a new wave of smears. In fact, their angry rhetoric is even more off the rails now than it was last time greyhound decoupling was considered.

For example, earlier this afternoon a greyhound trainer named Davina Filapelli posted on an internet message board that she would like to "slap" renowned actress and GREY2K USA supporter Betty White. Specifically, she wrote:
"Don't you just want to slap her!"
Unfortunately, Betty White is not the only target of these latest smears. In another message that was posted last night, a former greyhound trainer expressed his anger that the ASPCA is supporting our work to help greyhounds in Florida:
"It seems that the once reputable ASPCA has been infiltrated by the Animal Rights nuts and grifters."
Perhaps the most outrageous smears, however, have been directed at GREY2K USA co-founder Christine Dorchak. Christine is an inspiration to everyone who works at GREY2K USA, partly due to the fact that she and her dog Kelsey survived a catastrophic, near-fatal train accident in 1992.

You would think that even greyhound breeders would agree this personal tragedy is off limits. Sadly, that is not the case. In fact, only three days ago a greyhound trainer named Chris Grieb posted the following message on Twitter:
"Christine. Btw... when do you plan on walking in front of a trolley again?"
The following day, another dog racing supporter named Leslie Csokasy posted a news story about Christine's accident on an industry bulletin board and wrote:
"This is a highly amusing article ... I know... not very nice of me. But why pretend?"
Without a doubt, greyhound breeders have restarted their smear campaign because they know we are closer than ever to ending the cruelty of dog racing. I am proud of the support we have from mainstream opinion leaders like Betty White and the ASPCA, and am confident that our best days are ahead of us.

Tuesday, December 13, 2011

New Neglect Cases at Tucson Greyhound Park Should Give Skechers Pause

A few weeks ago, we learned that Skechers had filmed a Super Bowl ad at Tucson Greyhound Park. Tucson is one of the worst dog tracks in the country, and earlier this year was referred to as a "black mark" on the community in an Arizona Daily Star column.

After hearing from people all over the world the shoe company appears to be backpedaling, and has told us "we don't even know if that footage we (sic) ever appear in a commercial." This is a step in the right direction, but is not good enough.

Meanwhile, we have received evidence of two new cases of neglect that occurred at Tucson Greyhound Park. Both of these cases occurred only weeks before the Skechers ad shoot, and should give them pause.

According to the Arizona Department of Racing, a greyhound trainer named Willie Davis was fined $1,000 by the state for "failing to turn out and care for the greyhounds" in the kennel he worked in on September 28. According to state records, the dogs were not let out of their cages to relieve themselves for at least eight hours before a state investigator discovered the problem.

Three days later on October 1, another trainer at Tucson Greyhound Park was fined $100 after he brought four greyhounds to race with an "excessive amount of fleas." Thankfully, state officials did not allow the dogs to compete.

These recent cases are just the latest chapter in a long list of humane problems at the Tucson track. For example:
  • Independently of GREY2K USA, nearly identical kennel conditions at the track were documented in 2010 and 2011 by a Pima County investigator.
Tucson Greyhound Park has an extensive record of cruelty, which is why it is so hard to understand why Skechers would partner with this notorious track. I can only assume that Skechers was not aware of the track's chronic problems.

Skechers must now make a decision. I am hopeful the company will make the humane choice, and announce it will not run any ad that was filmed at Tucson Greyhound Park. If Skechers insists on moving forward, we have secured the domain and are prepared to take our campaign to a whole new level. Stay tuned.

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Happy Birthday to Brooklyn the Greyhound

Today, Brooklyn the greyhound turns three years old.

Sadly, he will not celebrate his special day with a loving family. Instead, he is living inside a cage at the Canidrome racetrack in Macau. Because the track has no adoption program, he is literally on death row.

Twenty five days have now passed since we sent our letter to the Canidrome asking for his release. Even though we have not yet heard from track management, every day brings new victories for all the Macau greyhounds.

Earlier this week Animals Australia joined the effort, and is asking their supporters to contact the Minister for Agriculture to urge him to stop Australia's export of greyhounds. Animals Australia is a national, non-profit charitable organization with an impressive record of investigating and exposing animal cruelty. Their work adds yet another voice to a chorus of humane organizations from around the world who are speaking out for the Canidrome greyhounds and calling for change.

Animals Australia's timing could not be better. Shortly after their alert went out, the urgency of this problem was underlined by a tragic case in India, where a greyhound was abandoned do die in a New Delhi airport. According to the Times of India the dog was shipped to India from Australia, where he was refused entry by the Animal Quarantine and Certification Services and abandoned by his importer. The greyhound was then left in a wire cage at the airport for forty days before being rescued by wildlife activist Maneka Gandhi. This case clearly highlights the perils of exporting greyhounds around the world.

Meanwhile, a newspaper in Sydney has reported on Greyhound Rescue's willingness to find Brooklyn a loving home once he returns home to Australia. According to Greyhound Rescue co-founder Peter Flann, their effort is also aimed at educating Australians about their part in the death of Macau greyhounds:
"This is one of the Australian dog racing industry's dirty little secrets, and needs to be revealed."
Never before has there been so much global momentum to help the Macau greyhounds. On Brooklyn's birthday, the entire world is watching and waiting to see how the Canidrome will respond.

Perhaps this unprecedented awareness is Brooklyn's birthday gift, sent to him by people all over the world who are fighting on his behalf. I like that thought, but of course would prefer a much nicer gift. For his next birthday, I would like to give him a loving family and home of his own.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Florida Greyhound Tour Enters the Homestretch

I have been on the road for nearly two weeks now, meeting with grassroots activists all across Florida. On Tuesday, I joined GREY2K USA President Christine Dorchak and Ann Church, Senior Director of the ASPCA, at a press conference in Tallahassee. We released a groundbreaking report on greyhound racing in Florida, and met with lawmakers. If you haven't read this report yet, please do so. It is the first document of its kind, and provides a glimpse inside Florida's thirteen dog tracks.

At every stop, I have met dedicated people who are ready to fight for the dogs. One example of this dedication is Cyndi Rennick with Greyhound REscue and Adoptions of Tampa Bay. In addition to her adoption efforts, Cyndi is a GREY2K USA volunteer and is working hard to pass greyhound decoupling. This morning, I received the following message Cyndi sent to other activists about the meeting:
"It was great to see Christine and Carey, and although they must be exhausted, they are hanging tough through this whirlwind Florida tour. The report that they released on Tuesday is beautifully done and represents a lot of hard work on their part. Some of the pictures are difficult to look at, but they need to be there, for those who may not know. The report sheds a bright light on the reality of everyday life for racing greyhounds in Florida. And it's an ugly picture."
Cyndi also wrote about her hopes for the upcoming legislative session:
"I am optimistic that all our hard work this session will be rewarded next year when the decoupling legislation makes it through both houses and is signed in to law! It's going to be a tough road and the greyhound breeders are going to fight dirty, but we are just as determined as they are. Their focus is the money and our focus is the greyhounds. I have to believe that we will prevail. I do it for Bandit, Sweetie Pie, Joe, Dodd and Taylor and all those others who were not lucky enough to make it to someone's sofa. I know that's why you each do what you do as well. I'm proud to be part of such a passionate group of advocates."
Although it has been exhilarating to meet so many amazing activists like Cyndi, I am looking forward to returning home and hugging my greyhound Zoe. As we enter the homestretch, it is the prospect of seeing her that propels me forward.

Sunday, December 4, 2011

A Grassroots Movement for the Greyhounds

Over the last week, GREY2K USA President Christine Dorchak and I have met with grassroots activists across Florida. Working with the ASPCA and The Humane Society of the United States, we have held organizing meetings in Miami, Fort Lauderdale, New Smyrna Beach, The Villages, Orlando and Sarasota.

All across the sunshine state, we are talking with volunteers who are committed to helping greyhounds.

At our heart GREY2K USA is a grassroots organization, and I firmly believe in the power of this type of advocacy. Our most important victories are often due in large part to the hard work of volunteers who want to make a change.

It is no surprise that the effort to help greyhounds has so much grassroots support. Without question, standard practices in the dog racing industry, like the cruel confinement greyhounds endure, go against the mainstream values of Americans from all walks of life.

We are only half-way through our Florida tour, and in the coming week I look forward to meeting grassroots volunteers at additional meetings throughout the state. Together, I know that we can help end the cruelty of dog racing.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

Is Brooklyn the Greyhound Running Out of Time?

Two weeks have now passed since GREY2K USA sent a letter directly to the Canidrome in Macau regarding Brooklyn the greyhound. So far, we have received no response. Meanwhile, the Rescue Brooklyn campaign is still gaining steam.

In recent days, Rescue Brooklyn has picked up the support of Animals Asia, an Asian-focused registered charity with headquarters in Hong Kong and offices all over the world. Earlier this month Animals Asia sent a letter to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard. Their letter was cosigned by eleven notable animal protection organizations, and asked the Prime Minister to end the export of greyhounds to Macau:
"We urge you to consider the welfare implications of allowing this trade to continue, leading to many hundreds of dogs breed in Australia being subjected to inadequate care, poor welfare, suffering, neglect and death each year. On behalf of all of our members globally, we appeal to the Australian Government to end the export of greyhounds to Macau and protect the welfare of dogs bred in Australia."
The Rescue Brooklyn campaign also took another step forward last week when ANIMA, an animal protection organization based in Macau, agreed to take care of Brooklyn during the required quarantine period. Without question, an overly burdensome quarantine law is one reason why greyhounds are dying at the Canidrome.

In order to be released to Australia, Brooklyn must pass through a 90-day quarantine in Hong Kong. Meanwhile, an import application and fee must be submitted to the Australian Quarantine and Inspection Service. Its rules require that any dog entering the country travel with bona fide health certificates completed by official government veterinarians. Dogs must also have proof of rabies vaccination and be microchipped. They must then undergo another 30-day quarantine in Australia itself.

I am grateful for ANIMA's willingness to help Brooklyn with the quarantine requirement, and their partnership means we are closer to helping him.

Brooklyn last raced yesterday, November 29. He finished 6th, and has not yet been scheduled to race again. If you haven't already, please e-mail the Canidrome right away at and ask them to allow us to Rescue Brooklyn. If you e-mailed them previously, please do so again. I remain hopeful this story will have a happy ending, but Brooklyn's time may well be running out.

Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Five Things I'm Thankful For

As we head into the holiday season, we should all take a moment to reflect on the things you are thankful for. Here are a few of mine.
  • I'm grateful that my rescued greyhound Zoe is happy and healthy. We had a scare this Fall when she was misdiagnosed with bone cancer. Thankfully, she only had a minor neck issue that has now been resolved. Facing the prospect of losing Zoe reminded me that every day with her is a blessing.
  • I'm grateful for lawmakers across the country who are fighting for stronger greyhound protection laws, including Florida State Representative Dana Young.
  • Finally, I'm grateful to have such a wonderful staff at GREY2K USA. I am surrounded by humane advocates who are dedicated, savvy and hard working. Because of them, I believe our best days lay ahead of us.

Monday, November 21, 2011

Bill to Help Greyhounds Reintroduced in Florida Legislature

Last year, a bill to decouple greyhound racing from other forms of gambling nearly became law in Florida. The humane proposal passed both the Florida House of Representatives and Florida Senate by large margins, but failed on the last day of session when the two chambers could not agree on minor differences.

The last minute defeat of this bill was heartbreaking for greyhound advocates. In the months since the legislative session ended, countless greyhound injuries have occurred in Florida that would have been prevented by the measure's passage.

I'm happy to report, however, that the fight for Florida's greyhounds is far from over. In recent weeks, greyhound decoupling bills have been refiled in the State House and Senate. These measures will be voted on early next year, and animal protection groups already are gearing up to make 2012 the Year of the Greyhound in Florida.

Greyhound breeders recognize how important this victory would be for the future of dog racing, and I expect them to resort to extreme measures in an attempt to defeat these humane bills. Nonetheless, I am optimistic that a decoupling bill will pass in Florida next year. If greyhound decoupling does become law, dog racing will be significantly reduced and fewer greyhounds will endure lives of confinement and suffer serious injuries.

In the coming weeks, I will provide more information about how you can help this important campaign. To win for Florida's greyhounds, we will need the help of everyone who cares about these amazing dogs.

Wednesday, November 16, 2011

Australian Group Steps Up to Help Rescue Brooklyn the Greyhound

Even though the effort to Rescue Brooklyn is only hours old, it has already won an initial victory. This morning, the Macau Daily Times reported that an Australian non-profit organization named Greyhound Rescue has agreed to rehome Brooklyn.

We are proud to work with Greyhound Rescue and its founders Janet and Peter Flann. Janet and Peter have been rescuing dogs for more than twenty years, and their partnership bodes well for the Rescue Brooklyn effort.

Now that a group is ready to take Brooklyn, our job is to get him safely to Greyhound Rescue. There, he can be given the forever home he deserves.

If you haven't already, please visit and find out how you can help with this important campaign. Together, we can make a change for all of the Macau greyhounds.

Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Help Us Rescue Brooklyn the Greyhound

A few weeks ago, GREY2K USA board member Charmaine Settle inspected the Canidrome racetrack in Macau. Without question, the situation is bleak for greyhounds at the track.

According to news reports, 383 healthy greyhounds were killed at the Canidrome last year. The dogs are imported from Australia, sent to Macau by greyhound breeders who want to increase their profit margins. Once the dogs arrive, they have no way out. When they are no longer competitive, or are injured, they die. This is a dirty little secret of the Australian dog racing industry, and must end.

That is why I am asking for your help as we try to rescue Brooklyn. Brooklyn is a two-year-old, white, red and fawn greyhound. He lives at the Canidrome, and won his last race on Sunday. Charmaine took a photograph of Brooklyn during her inspection, and he is very handsome. I am hoping he will eventually make some family very happy.

For that to happen, however, we will have to overcome significant logistical challenges. Because Brooklyn comes from Australia, the simplest way to help him is to send him back to a rescue group in his home country. However, even though greyhounds are frequently exported from Australia to Macau, they are rarely sent back. We will have to deal with a quarantine law and other legal challenges, provide transportation from him, and identify an adoption group in Australia that is willing to help him. In short, rescuing Brooklyn will not be easy.

Most importantly, we will not be able to rescue Brooklyn unless the Canidrome management cooperates with us, and allows us to send him home after his racing career is over. Today, we sent a letter to the track, asking for their cooperation. We told them, in no uncertain terms, that refusing to work with greyhound advocates would send a very troubling message to the rest of the world.

Of course, this effort is about much more than Brooklyn. It is also an opportunity for us to explore the challenges that exist in trying to help all of the Macau greyhounds.

To support this campaign, we have launched a new website at and will provide further updates as they become available. Please visit today, and find out how you can help this important effort.

We have made the first move in the campaign to rescue Brooklyn, and must now wait for the Canidrome to respond. The answer we receive will tell us a lot about the future of all the greyhounds in Macau.

Thursday, November 10, 2011

Economic Study: Greyhound Racing Has a Negative Impact on State Revenues

As greyhound racing is debated across the country, dog track proponents are increasingly turning to economic arguments in an attempt to save their cruel industry. According to a recent study, however, the economic impact of greyhound racing is at least partly negative.

In a 2010 article, Economic Professors from Auburn University and the College of Charleston reported that greyhound racing tends to have a negative impact on state revenues in the jurisdictions in which it exists. Specifically, the authors found that:
"Each additional dollar of greyhound handle is estimated to reduce net state revenue by a whopping and statistically significant $7.61."
In other words, for every dollar gambled on dog racing host states lost nearly eight dollars in revenue. According to the authors, this reduction is likely due to the fact that greyhound racing cannibalizes other parts of the economy:
"The casino and greyhound racing results indicate substitution away from other, revenue productive forms of spending which, ultimately, leads to a reduction in state revenues."
The study was published in Contemporary Economic Policy, a Journal of the Western Economic Association International. WEAI is a non-profit educational organization of economists, and past Presidents include eight Nobel Laureates.

This study should send a clear message to policymakers. Greyhound racing is not only cruel and inhumane, it is also an economic drain on the states in which it still exists.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Greyhounds Continue to Die at the Canidrome Racetrack in Macau

This morning, the Macau Daily Times reported again on the cruel fate greyhounds face at the Canidrome dog track. This track has no adoption program, and hundreds of greyhounds are killed every year.

The Daily Times has doggedly covered this problem, and is giving the Canidrome greyhounds a voice for the first time. Their report today ran as the lead story on the front page, and is based in part on an interview with GREY2K USA Board Member Charmaine Settle.

I am proud to have the opportunity to work with Charmaine, who has a long history of helping greyhounds. Last month, she traveled to the Canidrome to see for herself how dogs live at the facility. Here is part of what she had to say:
"I was at the Canidrome around 3pm in the afternoon when the dogs are let out of their kennels. I felt so sad looking at the dogs eyes as they passed by me knowing every one of them will probably be killed within a matter of months for no reason. It certainly is a one way death sentence when they are sent from Australia to Macau where they are exploited, suffer and die for the sake of a bet."
Charmaine also took several photographs at the Canidrome, including a close-up of a greyhound we believe is named Brooklyn. According to the track's website Brooklyn last raced two nights ago, although I fear he could be killed at any time.

We are committed to helping these dogs. Last year we launched a petition urging the President of the Civil and Municipal Bureau in Macau to make positive changes, and already more than 8,000 people from across the world have added their names as signatories. If you haven't signed this petition yet, please do so today.

We are also preparing a new campaign to raise awareness about the greyhounds at the Canidrome, and will be announcing further details soon. Dogs like Brooklyn can't afford to wait any longer.

Monday, October 31, 2011

Greyhound Breeders Defend Broken Legs at Texas Track

Last week, GREY2K USA released a report on greyhound injuries at Gulf Greyhound Park. According to state records, 1,351 greyhound injuries have been reported at the track since 2008, including dogs that suffered broken legs, paralysis, and a fractured skull.

When we released this report, I knew it was only a matter of time before dog racing promoters tried to rationalize the high injury rate at Gulf. That is why I was not surprised when National Greyhound Association member Robert Gross minimized these serious injuries on Facebook last Saturday. He started his defense by falsely claiming that most of the injuries reported at Gulf were minor:
"1,351 injuries in 43 months - most of them minor."
This is simply not true. In fact, the most commonly reported injury was a broken leg. Further, as the Houston Chronicle noted only 32% of all reported greyhound injuries at Gulf involved sprains or strained or pulled muscles.

The next defense Gross used is priceless. He actually claimed that the Gulf injuries aren't significant, because 180,000 "individual Greyhounds" raced at the track during the period covered in our report:
"22,575 races involving 180,600 individual Greyhounds. Seems to me that Greyhound racing is an extremely safe sport."
Of course, this is completely false. To reach his ridiculous figure, Gross is counting the same greyhounds over and over again dozens of times, and pretending that each "start" represents a different dog. In reality, a few thousand greyhounds likely raced at Gulf during this period.

Finally, Gross ended his rationalization with a snide remark about my adopted greyhound Zoe, who recently cut her foot while on a walk:
"Considering that Carey Theil's only greyhound was rushed to the hospital recently due to a serious laceration while on a walk. Looks like the injury rate for his Greyhound is 100%."
I realize that greyhound breeders have become experts at rationalizing and denying the cruelty of dog racing. Nonetheless, I am surprised by the naivety of this argument. To be clear, when a greyhound suffers an injury while on a walk around the neighborhood, that is a sad accident.

By contrast, the experience of greyhounds in the racing industry is quite different. Greyhound breeders "produce" large numbers of dogs. They ship them off to racetracks, where the dogs live in warehouse style kennels in rows of stacked cages. The dogs race against each other so that gamblers can use them as numbers to bet on. Every year, greyhounds suffer thousands of injuries, and the breeders know full well that many of the dogs they send to race will die on the track. To them, this is simply the price of doing business. Like greyhound trainer John O'Donnell said in 2008, to them broken legs are "no big deal."

The death of greyhounds like Carla and Patches, two sisters who died at Gulf, are not accidents. Instead, they are the entirely predictable result of an industry that is cruel and inhumane.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Remembering Carla and Patches, Sister Greyhounds Who Died on the Same Track

This morning GREY2K USA released a report on greyhound injuries at Gulf Greyhound Park, the last remaining dog racing facility in Texas. The overall statistics are tragic. Since 2008, 1,351 greyhound injuries have been reported at the track and 49 greyhounds have died or were euthanized. Our report was covered in a front-page story in the Houston Chronicle.

The most relevant facts that emerge from these state injury reports, however, are not statistics. The records also document individual dogs who suffered and died. Even though we cannot help these dogs, we can honor them by telling their stories.

Today, I would like to remember Carla and Patches, sister greyhounds who both died at Gulf. These two greyhounds undoubtedly knew each other well, and probably spent much of their early life together.

On February 25, 2010, Rags Carla was euthanized after she broke her right front leg during a race at Gulf. Her sister, Rags Patches, died at the track only two months later. According to the injury report for Patches, she died on April 30 after she fell during a race, broke her neck and was paralyzed. Patches was nineteen months old at the time of her death.

Of course, these are only two of the dogs who have suffered at Gulf, and all of the dogs who died there deserve to have their stories told. That is why we also released a short video today that documents three fatal greyhound injuries at the track. Please watch this video, and forward it to others. In this small way, we can give these poor dogs a voice.

Thursday, October 20, 2011

Greyhound Trainer Receives Five Year Prison Sentence in Ebro Cruelty Case

According to news reports, former greyhound trainer Ronnie Williams plead guilty this morning to 39 counts of animal cruelty. He was arrested last year when dozens of dead greyhounds were discovered in his kennel at Ebro Greyhound Park. According to state officials, the dogs died from starvation, dehydration, or asphyxia.

Williams was sentenced to five years in prison for each charge. However the sentences will run concurrently. He has already spent a year in jail while waiting trial, and will not receive credit for that time served.

There is no doubt that Williams should have received a stiffer penalty for his heinous acts. Sadly, it is common for animal abusers to receive relatively light sentences.

Today's plea is the end of a sad story in which dozens of greyhounds suffered and died. Today, my thoughts are with those dogs.

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

Jack Sprat, the Blind Greyhound Who Was Forced to Race, Finds a Loving Home

Two weeks ago I wrote about Jack Sprat, a British greyhound who was forced to race despite the fact that he is blind. Jack's sad story was widely reported in the United Kingdom. According to the Daily Mail:
"When Jack Sprat the greyhound came in last in every race in which he competed, his owners thought they had a dud. But in fact, he did well to keep up with the pack at all because it turns out Jack is almost completely blind and couldn't see the rabbit."
As heartbreaking as this story is, it has a happy end. This morning, the Mirror reported that Jack has found a loving home. He has been adopted by a couple who read about his plight and decided to help him. According to adopter Sue Forrest:
“I wanted to give him a caring home, he is such a beautiful dog. We are amazed at how quickly he has settled in and we feel so lucky we got to look after him.”
Apparently, Jack's challenges are not completely over. According to his new family he has difficulty with loud sounds:
"He is terrified of noise, it reminds him of the race crowds. We cannot take him to town yet as he gets beside himself. He shakes. But Jack is so affectionate."
It is absolutely wonderful that Jack has found a loving family to live with. I wish Jack the best of luck in his new home and would like to congratulate everyone who helped him, including the Mirror, the Dog's Trust, and of course Sue and Adam Forrest.

Your work to help Jack is an inspiration to everyone across the globe who cares about greyhounds and strives to make a difference.

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Greyhound Racing Industry "Hall of Fame" Celebrates Controversial Kansas Breeder

Tomorrow, the greyhound racing industry's "Hall of Fame" is scheduled to induct long-time breeder Vince Berland, owner of the Flying Eagle kennel and farm. Over the past twenty-five years, Berland has had a huge influence on the American greyhound racing industry. According to the Abilene Reflector-Chronicle:
"Berland’s impact on National meets has also been significant. The record-breaking sale of Flying Train in 1991 for $56,000 started the ball rolling with big-dollar sales at the auction."
Unfortunately, there is another side to this story.

In 2009, Bantam Press published an autobiography by professional poker player Roy Brindley titled Life's a Gamble. In this book, Mr. Brindley writes that he worked at Vince Berland's farm in the Fall of 1995, and says that his job was to prepare greyhounds owned by Berland for one of the big annual meets:
"My new role was with one of the biggest operations in the US, Flying Eagles Kennels, also in Abilene but on the other side of town. My brief was to train sixty dogs, young puppies, in preparation for just two big races; afterwards they'd be put through a public auction. Their sale price would depend their performance, and I was promised a share of the revenue made from the sale of the dogs by Vince Berland, owner of the operation."
Brindley then writes that things initially went well, and he found the Berlands to be "decent upstanding God-fearing people." After about a week, however, he says that his time at the farm took a turn for the worse. After some of the greyhounds were time tested, Brindley says he overhead a disturbing conversation between Vince Berland, his son Lance and a family friend named Greg, in which Berland directed his friend to kill several greyhounds because their times were not fast enough. Brindley writes:
"Moments later the door into my kennelling area opened and in walked Lance and Greg. I looked at them in total shock, the kind of shock that makes you just stare or gives you an urge to run from the scene, like witnessing a nasty car accident. Surely I had got it all wrong. Surely they weren't going to take these animals to the vet to be put to sleep. The word 'kill'. It was so brutal.
The dogs were taken outside and loaded on to the truck. It did not head out towards the main gates and on to the open road but down a dusty trail towards the far reaches of the ranch. I listened intently, wondering where exactly it was headed, and I could still hear the engine noise as it pulled up again and the engine was turned off. I heard a metal door to one of the dog's compartments on the transporter swing open, violently enough to make a clattering noise, and then, BANG! Moments later, BANG! again, and again and again. Never in my life had I experienced first hand such barbaric behaviour. Those loving, adoring animals had been slaughtered by gunshot."
A few hours later, Brindley says that he went to the location where he heard gunshots, and discovered a pit full of dead greyhounds. Brindley then writes:
"Here was the brutal truth. Any dog considered incapable of winning races was brought down here to be shot. The stench of death got into my clothes and my hair. I can smell it to this day. And what I saw has haunted me ever since."
Brindley says that he went to the National Greyhound Association (NGA) the next day to report what he had seen, but the NGA had no interest in taking action:
"The response was automated, as if it were the sort of thing people normally asked: 'Here at the NGA we are purely a registry organization. We register matings, whelpings, and ownership. That is where our function ends.'"
Brindley further says that he then went to the local sheriff, who told him that what he had seen was not against the law.

I know of no evidence that proves or disproves Mr. Brindley's account of his time at the Flying Eagles farm, but believe his story deserves to be told. If what he writes is true, then tomorrow's induction of Vince Berland into the Greyhound "Hall of Fame" will be a sad day for thousands of greyhounds.

Friday, October 7, 2011

Greyhound News Treats to End the Week

Sadly, Summer has passed and Autumn is here. Nevertheless, as the leaves fall our work to help greyhounds continues. To end this October week, here are a few greyhound news treats.
  • Obviously, I am disappointed by the election of Governor Earl Ray Tomblin in West Virgina, who won by a narrow margin of 50% to 47%. Greyhound breeders are celebrating his victory, which ensures that their multi-million dollar subsidies will continue for the time being. One thing is certain, though: the debate over greyhound racing in West Virginia is only just beginning.
  • In the United Kingdom, a greyhound came in last in every race before it was discovered he is blind. This is a sad story that will hopefully have a happy end. Jack Sprat is an absolutely adorable dog, and is now looking for a loving home.
Have a great weekend, and enjoy Autumn. Before long, Winter will be here!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Ten Greyhounds Suffer Broken Legs at Miami Track, Dog Dies from Heart Attack

Anyone who remains undecided about greyhound decoupling in Florida should consider the sad fate of Fuzzys San Jose.

San Jose was a one-year-old fawn greyhound who died at Flagler in Miami on June 4, 2011. During his final race he fell before the escape turn, suffered a heart attack, and died on the track.

According to state records GREY2K USA recently obtained, San Jose was one of fourteen greyhounds who were injured at Flagler between June 4, 2011 and July 12, 2011. Of these, ten greyhounds suffered broken legs, and a greyhound was euthanized after suffering a broken back.

This is the third time in recent months that GREY2K USA has documented serious injuries at a Florida dog track, and follows the disclosure of serious injuries at Ebro Greyhound Park and Sanford Orlando Kennel Club.

This is why we need to pass greyhound decoupling in Florida. Currently, racetracks are required to hold dog races in order to offer other, more profitable, forms of gambling. This linkage makes little sense.

It is important to note that the owners of Flagler have shown leadership in urging Florida lawmakers to end the law linking dog racing to other forms of gambling. Their leadership is one of the reasons why I am optimistic we can pass this important humane bill in the next legislative session.

Even though it is too late to help San Jose, we have the opportunity to help other greyhounds like him. Until we pass greyhound decoupling, countless dogs will continue to suffer and die at racetracks across the Sunshine state.