Friday, September 30, 2011

Dog Racing Supporter Smears GREY2K USA on Eve of West Virginia Election

You always know elections are too close to call when the mud starts to fly.

This morning, a "reporter" for the Martins Ferry Times Leader named Stan Pawloski published a laundry list of smears and innuendo regarding GREY2K USA and gubernatorial candidate Bill Maloney. Here are the facts:
  • GREY2K USA was contacted by a former greyhound trainer named Marshall Rae who claimed to have specific information regarding cruelty in the dog racing industry.
  • GREY2K USA asked Mr. Rae to speak with a private investigator and former federal law enforcement officer named Greg, who is working on a long-term research project aimed at uncovering greyhound cruelty. This investigator has no relationship to the upcoming election in West Virginia.
  • Mr. Rae was arrested yesterday for attempting to extort a West Virginia greyhound breeder. GREY2K USA had no knowledge whatsoever of Mr. Rae's alleged plot. We are outraged by Mr. Rae's alleged actions, and if the allegations are true he should be held accountable.
Unfortunately, greyhound breeders are attempting to use Mr. Rae's arrest to smear our work to help greyhounds. "Reporter" Stan Pawloski is actually a supporter of greyhound racing and gubernatorial candidate Earl Ray Tomblin. On September 15, Pawloski urged greyhound breeders to vote for Tomblin on a message board used by the dog racing industry. Specifically, he wrote:
"The attack ads on Tomblin and his family have been non-stop in the past few days. Malony definitely is taking aim at greyhound racing. Hundreds of jobs are on the line ... please register if you haven't and vote for Tomblin. If registered, make sure you get to the polls on election day and vote for Tomblin."
In another message on the same message board dated May 23, Pawloski thanked greyhound breeders for donating to the Tomblin campaign:
"Hats off also to all others who have stepped to the plate for Gov. Tomblin."
It is not surprising that greyhound breeders would try to use Mr. Rae's arrest as way of slinging mud with only days to go in the campaign for West Virginia Governor. It is disappointing, though, that a supposed member of the media would be so reckless with the facts. Mr. Pawloski's newspaper even seems to have altered a photo of me to make it appear somehow illegitimate.

Finally, my heart is broken by the fact that the greyhounds are being lost in this debate. If the allegations against Mr. Rae are true, the dogs were once again used by someone in an attempt to enrich himself. Further, the real story here is the live lure case in Texas. The documents related to this case show a side of the greyhound racing industry that was supposedly long over:

00:45.0 Video shows man w/red cap carrying rabbit over and placing on whirligig.

UNKNOWN: Alright (indecipherable).

TIMMY TITSWORTH: Hey there puppy.

00:53.8 Dogs bark at squealing rabbit.


TIMMY TITSWORTH: Come here, puppy. Nope….get back.

01.27.0 Hear rabbit and dogs again and see man in black/grey striped shirt walk over and climb fence.

MARSHALL RAY: (indecipherable)

TIMMY TITSWORTH: Two rounds. And then let them fight it. I don’t want to kill him.

GARY WHITE: (indecipherable)

01.34.8 Hear rabbit and then dogs.


TIMMY TITSWORTH: Are they looking?


TIMMY TITSWORTH: Back it up some. Get ready to push.


TIMMY TITSWORTH: Come on, baby…Push it, Gary… (indecipherable).

02.09.08 Dogs catch rabbit.

I am confident that West Virginia voters will see through this smokescreen, and cast a vote based on the facts. It should tell them something that greyhound breeders would go to such lengths to distract voters and keep their multi-million dollar subsidies in place.

Wednesday, September 28, 2011

Top Recipients of Dog Racing Subsidies Contribute Thousands to Tomblin Campaign

With only days left in the race for West Virginia governor, greyhound breeders are simultaneously defending candidate Earl Ray Tomblin, while at the same time trying to distance themselves from him.

For example, this morning the Charleston Daily Mail published a letter from Sam Burdette, the president of the West Virginia Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association. In his letter, Burdette defends Tomblin from what he says are "false and negative campaign accusations," but then claims that Tomblin hasn't actually helped greyhound breeders:
"Also, we have occasion to go to the Legislature on bills relating to the greyhound industry. We have not known Earl Ray to insert his influence into legislative action relating to the business."
What greyhound breeders are saying in public, however, contrasts sharply with what they are saying in private. On May 15, greyhound breeder Dean Miner urged other breeders across the country to support Tomblin and contribute to his campaign. He urged breeders to send checks directly to him, and said that he would bundle the checks together and they would be "hand delivered to Governor Tomblin." He further added:
"It's been my experience hand delivering goes a long, long way."
Miner's message, which was posted on an internet site used by the dog racing industry, made it clear that Tomblin's election would benefit greyhound breeders like himself:
"You can’t do better in this lifetime, but to have a Governor who has family that owns greyhounds, a kennel and a farm. If you don’t get involved now then I don’t know what to say."
Miner's investment in Tomblin has the potential to pay huge dividends. In return for his maximum donation of $1,000, which he gave to Tomblin on July 14, 2011, he can try to ensure that the subsidies he receives under the Greyhound Development Fund continue. In 2010, Miner received $225,986.11 in greyhound subsidies, placing him ninth in total subsidy dollars.

Dean Miner is not the only top recipient of greyhound subsidies who apparently thinks Tomblin is a good bet. Half of the top ten recipients of greyhound subsidies in 2010 have donated to the Tomblin campaign this year:
  • The fifth largest recipient of greyhound subsidies, Harvey Maupin Jr., gave the maximum $1,000 to the Tomblin campaign in two separate contributions dated May 10 and August 18. His wife Loretta also gave the maximum $1,000 in two contributions, also dated May 10 and August 18. In 2010, Maupin received $248,773.83 in greyhound subsidies.
  • The seventh largest recipient of greyhound subsidies, Rondis Cavender, gave $500 to the Tomblin campaign in two contributions on May 6 and June 1. In 2010, Cavender received $237,117.64 in greyhound subsidies.
Finally, it is worth noting that the author of today's letter, Sam Burdette, gave the Tomblin campaign $100 on June 14.

Next Tuesday, we'll find out if the bet greyhound breeders have made in West Virginia will pay off. I'm hopeful that Mountain State voters will instead make a humane choice and opt for Bill Maloney for Governor.

Thursday, September 22, 2011

Doubletalk by Dog Track CEO Refuted by Inspection Photographs

I thought I had heard it all.

As executive director of GREY2K USA, I have heard dog racing apologists make every excuse and rationalization imaginable in an effort to defend their cruel industry. They have said that greyhounds like to live in their cages, and that broken legs are no big deal. They have even suggested that greyhounds aren't dogs at all.

Even I was shocked, however, by the incredible doubletalk that Tucson Greyhound Park (TGP) CEO Tom Taylor used last December to defend the kennel conditions greyhounds endure at his track. After he was shown footage that was taken at TGP by GREY2K USA investigators, he claimed that they "saw what they wanted to see" and said that TGP is an "ideal place for dogs."

KOLD News couldn't verify his claims, however, because he refused to allow them into the kennel compound. He said he denied them access because they would "show it to thousands of people, and we don't know how they're going to take it."

Then, his defense of dog racing went from strange to outright bizarre. He said that "I could show you the Taj Mahal and people would say that's too, uh, religious." Even this, however, was apparently not bizarre enough for Taylor, who then added "Hey, I could show you a picture of the Mona Lisa and you could say 'Oh, that's horrible.'"

Of course, at the time of this interview I knew Taylor was not telling the truth. Our investigators had just documented terrible conditions at the Tucson track. At TGP, greyhounds live in darkness. They are kept in warehouse-style kennels in small cages barely large enough for them to stand up or turn around. Most of the dogs our investigators observed were muzzled in their cages.

After KOLD TV reported on our investigative footage last December, I forgot about Tom Taylor's bizarre interview. I was reminded of it again, though, a few weeks ago when we received documents and photographs from the Pima County Animal Care Center. It turns out that a County investigator has inspected TGP several times over the last year, and taken photographs of the kennel compound. The photographs she took are nearly identical to the footage taken by our investigators, and document the same problems.

When we received these photographs, I asked our Communications Manager Danielle Festa to contrast Tom Taylor's interview with the photographs taken by the County investigator. The result is our new video, "Dog Track CEO Caught Lying."

Greyhounds are still suffering at Tucson Greyhound Park, and need help more than ever. Just yesterday, the Tucson Weekly newspaper reported again on the track's unwillingness to abide by a local ballot question passed in 2008 that mandated better conditions for racing dogs.

Please watch our new video, and forward it to everyone you know. I am confident that we will soon end greyhound racing in Arizona, but we can only do it with the help of everyone who cares about these dogs.

Tuesday, September 20, 2011

For Greyhound Advocates, Bill Maloney is the Choice for West Virginia Governor

In two weeks, West Virginia voters will go to the polls and cast their ballots in a special election to determine the next governor. Greyhound protection advocates should consider voting for Republican Bill Maloney.

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. Greyhound breeders also receive millions of dollars in subsidies annually, funds that would otherwise go to the state.

Bill Maloney has rightly said that these subsidies should end. He has also featured his family dog Holly, a golden retriever, in several campaign ads. My favorite ad starring Holly is named Reliable, and compares Holly's reliability to Maloney's vision as governor.

Sadly, Holly passed away a few weeks ago. Maloney's thoughts on her passing, though, tells us a lot about his humane values:
"Holly was there with us for every step of the way: From parades to festivals, she enjoyed every minute of the campaign trail ... we would like to thank everyone for their support during this difficult time. Holly was special to all of us and will be greatly missed by people all over West Virginia."
By contrast, 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.

The choice is clear. 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. At Tri-State Racetrack, more than 3,000 greyhound injuries have been reported since 2005. At the state's other dog track, Wheeling Island, more than 700 greyhound injuries were reported between January 2008 and September 2009.

On the other hand, if Maloney wins West Virginia will finally have a governor who understands that the state subsidies for greyhound racing should end.

Our efforts to protect greyhounds are supported by people from all walks of life and political perspectives. We receive just as much support from conservative Republicans and we do liberal Democrats. For greyhound protection advocates, the choice for West Virginia Governor is clear. Vote for Bill Maloney.

Thursday, September 15, 2011

28 Greyhounds Suffer Serious Injuries at Ebro Racetrack, Ten Dogs Die

Last October, Ebro Greyhound Park made international headlines when a greyhound trainer named Ronald Williams was arrested and charged with 42 counts of felony animal cruelty. According to state investigators, dozens of dogs in the control of Williams were severely neglected and many died from starvation, dehydration or asphyxia.

Sadly, this is not the only humane problem that has been documented at the Ebro dog track. According to state records we recently obtained, between May 21 and July 5 of this year a total of 28 greyhounds suffered "substantial" injuries at Ebro, and ten greyhounds were euthanized.

In just the first week of racing at the track in May, ten greyhounds suffered broken legs and three greyhounds were euthanized.

This is the first injury data we have ever seen for Ebro Greyhound Park. Unlike other states, Florida does not require that greyhound racing facilities report injuries to the public. Additionally, when the track was asked about these fatal injuries, they refused to provide state investigators with video footage of the races in question.

When you also consider the documentation we just released on serious injuries at Orlando Greyhound Park, a clearer picture of dog racing in Florida is coming into focus. At tracks across the Sunshine State, large numbers of greyhounds are suffering serious injuries.

As tragic as the Ronald Williams case was, we should not overlook the greyhounds who are continuing to suffer and die at Ebro and other tracks. These dogs need our help, regardless of whether their deaths make international headlines. That is why we must redouble our efforts to pass a greyhound decoupling bill in the next legislative session. The passage of greyhound decoupling will significantly reduce greyhound injuries, and will be the first step in giving these dogs the help they deserve.

Tuesday, September 13, 2011

Kennel Helper Suspended for "Mistreating a Greyhound" at Arkansas Dog Track

Compared to other dog tracks, Southland Park in Arkansas has received relatively little attention from humane advocates. This is partly due to the fact that for many years the Arkansas State Racing Commission refused to provide GREY2K USA with public records. That changed earlier this year, and already we are beginning to document humane problems at the facility.

According to a state document, a kennel helper at Southland was fined $200 and suspended for fifteen days in July 2011 for "mistreating a greyhound." The kennel helper was also placed on probation for one year by the Southland Park Board of Judges.

Unfortunately, we don't know exactly how this kennel helper mistreated a greyhound, because the state record provides no specific details. It does, however, indicate that witnesses testified to the "severity of her actions."

Additionally, one Judge unsuccessfully fought for a harsher penalty. In his report, he stated that the fine and suspension "does not meet with the severity of the actions, both present and past" of the kennel worker. It is unclear what past actions the Judge was referring to, because those details were similarly not released to the public.

In many ways, this document raises more questions than it answers. One thing is clear, though. For the first time, the public is being given real information about Southland Park, and will be able to make an informed decision about the future of greyhound racing in Arkansas.

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Watch Our New Video, "A New Life for Greyhounds"

Greyhound advocacy should be fun. That may seem like an odd thing to say, because greyhounds are subjected to so much cruelty. Nonetheless, while we fight to end dog racing we should also take time to celebrate greyhounds for who they are: amazing animals that can be sweet, gentle, playful and even goofy.

That is why I am so pleased with the new GREY2K USA video, "A New Life for Greyhounds."

Watching this video, I am thrilled by the nimble power and agility of Archie, Blue, Upton, Gino, Joey and Grace as they bound through corn fields. I am amazed by the obvious mirth with which Frosty plays with the mirror. I still laugh every time I see Maggie May lying in the sand, quietly blinking her eyes, and am filled with joy in watching Ziggy dressed as a greyhound Superhero.

Like my adopted greyhound Zoe, these dogs inspire me. By celebrating them, I am encouraged to continue doing my work to end the cruelty of greyhound racing. Please watch this new video, and let me know what your favorite fun greyhound moment is!