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.