Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Victory for the Dogs: Watch the Video Greyhound Breeders Don't Want You to See

A greyhound lives outside at an Oklahoma breeding facility
On Christmas morning, greyhound advocates won a major victory when the Secret Life of Greyhound Puppies was restored by YouTube. This video documents the greyhound breeding industry as never before, and includes photographs that were taken by local officials, greyhound breeders, and owners, at facilities in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and West Virginia.  This video is the first real glimpse into the secretive greyhound breeding industry, and shows puppies being tattooed at a few months of age, puppies kept outside with just small buildings for shelter, and breeding dogs enduring lives of confinement.

The video was temporarily removed from YouTube earlier this month after a greyhound breeder filed a false copyright claim. We immediately responded to this claim, and asserted our fair use and free speech rights. Yesterday, our response was accepted and the video was fully restored.

It shouldn't surprise anyone that greyhound breeders would go to extreme lengths to prevent the public from seeing how greyhounds live. However, GREY2K USA will not be deterred by these cynical tactics. I predicted that we would win this challenge when it was filed, and noted that we have won every such challenge we have faced.

Please watch The Secret Life of Greyhound Puppies today, then forward it to everyone you know. Let's send dog race promoters a message that they cannot silence us, and we will continue to be a strong voice for the greyhounds.


Thursday, December 20, 2012

GREY2K USA Investigates Dog Racing Down Under

A greyhound waits to race in Auckland, New Zealand
Over the past few years GREY2K USA has researched dog racing abroad, looking for opportunities to collaborate with other animal protection groups in efforts to end this cruelty. In large part, this international effort has been led by board member Charmaine Settle. Charmaine supported our recent investigation of dog racing in the United Kingdom, and has also personally taken fact-finding trips to Macau and Vietnam. We learned a tremendous amount from these investigations.

Charmaine just returned home from her most recent investigative trip, this time to Australia and New Zealand. Today, there are more than eighty operational greyhound racetracks in Australia, along with seven dog tracks in New Zealand. Thousands of greyhounds are bred for the racing industry, and breeders regularly export racing dogs to tracks in other countries including China's Canidrome, where all the dogs are killed when they stop racing. Thankfully, there is now hope that greyhounds Down Under may soon see better days.

Tasmania and Australia

Charmaine started her trip in Tasmania with a visit to Anne Lloyd-Jones, Australian Director for the Animals Asia Foundation. She spoke with Anne about our continuing efforts to help greyhounds in both Australia and China, and our Rescue Brooklyn campaign. Anne has been an important ally in our effort to close the Canidrome racetrack in Macau.

After visiting Tasmania, Charmaine went to Sydney where she met with greyhound adoption advocates Peter and Janet Flann, founders of Greyhound Rescue Australia. These advocates told Charmaine about some of the challenges Australian rescue groups face, including near-impossible standards that greyhounds must meet in order to be given a chance to be adopted. Coupled with that, no official records are kept for the dogs that are not deemed adoptable. These advocates also shared assertions regarding humane issues in the Australian racing industry, including the claim that the vast majority of greyhounds are killed when they are no longer profitable, and the claim that some veterinarians will euthanize greyhounds for a reduced fee and then sell their blood for profit. Charmaine heard similar claims by other greyhound advocates during her trip.
Greyhounds prepare to race at Wentworth Park in Sydney

While in Sydney, Charmaine also met with Animals Australia Senior Campaigner Jeroen van Kernebeek. Jeroen has also been a key ally in our effort to stop the export of Australian greyhounds to the Canidrome in Macau. Together, Charmaine and Jeroen went to Wentworth Park to see races and speak to members of the Australian dog racing industry. Wentworth is considered a high grade track, and and sells itself as a social environment rather than as a gambling facility.

Charmaine and Jeroen were given a tour of Wentworth by the track's marketing director, who provided them with statistics about the track's total handle and supposed economic impact. The track official was unable, however, to provide any data regarding the number of greyhounds adopted or euthanized.

Charmaine noted that greyhound racing exists in Australia in large part due to the high volume of off-track betting facilities. Dog races are commonly broadcast at local restaurants, sports bars and pubs, and receive much more public exposure than they do in the United States.

New Zealand

After departing Australia, Charmaine traveled to New Zealand where she met with greyhound advocate Lynn Charlton. Lynn told Charmaine about her experience working with investigative reporters at 60 Minutes to document problems at New Zealand dog tracks, including Manukau Stadium. In a groundbreaking report, 60 Minutes recently found that hundreds of dogs are being injured each year at New Zealand tracks, and many greyhounds are being killed.

Greyhound advocate Aaron Cross
A day after meeting Lynn, Charmaine went to Manukau Stadium to see the track for herself. Since Manukau had just been featured in the 60 Minutes report, she understood why there was tension in the air as she watched some of the races and walked around the track taking photographs. She sensed the facility was on high alert, and that officials were monitoring her closely. Upon leaving Manakau, she wrote:
"Why was there an air of extreme paranoia at the track? What are they trying to hide? What might I find out? These, I'm convinced, are questions the public will get answers to as more information is exposed on how greyhounds are exploited, suffer and die in New Zealand."
Finally, before returning home Charmaine visited with greyhound advocate Aaron Cross of the Greyhound Protection League of New Zealand. Aaron has raised important questions about the large number of greyhounds that go unaccounted for, and was extensively interviewed in the recent 60 Minutes investigation. He also recently launched a petition for an independent inquiry into the New Zealand dog racing industry, an important effort that we fully support.

Returning Home

Throughout her travels, Charmaine was encouraged by the greyhound advocacy community Down Under, which grows in strength with each passing day. Already, there are many committed people who are working hard to give the greyhounds a voice.

As we look at the global dog racing industry, time and again we see this trend. Whether it's in Macau, New Zealand or Massachusetts, the rise of commercial dog racing inevitably leads to local opposition, and a grassroots movement to protect greyhounds.

Tuesday, December 11, 2012

Animal Protection Groups From All Over the World Calling for Change at Macau Dog Track

More than a year has passed since we reached out to the Canidrome dog track in Macau, and asked them to make positive improvements for the greyhounds. Although there have been hopeful signs that change may soon occur, the track has so far used a delay strategy in hopes the greyhound debate would just go away. That is not going to happen.

Two weeks ago, we joined Animals Australia, Animals Asia, and ANIMA and together sent a letter to every major animal protection organization in the world. We urged these humane groups to join together as one unified voice, and intensify the pressure on the Canidrome. In part, we told these organizations:
"Although we feel optimistic that a humane solution may be found for the dogs at the Canidrome in time, this will only come about through sustained international pressure on the governments of Macau and Australia ... We are confident that if the global animal welfare community stands together and speaks up for the greyhounds in Macau, this is one cruelty that can end."
The response to this call to action has been overwhelming. So far, more than two dozen major humane groups have agreed to help, including Humane Society International, the International Fund for Animal Welfare Australia, SPCA Auckland, GreytExploitations, the League Against Cruel Sports, the National Greyhound Adoption ProgramGreyhound Rescue Holland and World Animal Net. These compassionate organizations are directly contacting the governments of Macau and Australia, and asking them to close the Canidrome and end the export of greyhounds from Australia to Macau. Many of these groups are also asking their supporters to weigh in.

This incredible wave of support for the greyhounds in Macau is humbling. It also gives me great hope that we are on the verge of a major breakthrough. However, to win this effort we will need the help of everyone who cares about greyhounds. Please assist this effort today by doing two things:
  • Send a polite e-mail to Macau Chief Executive Dr. Chui Sai On at, and ask that the Canidrome be permanently closed.
  • Send a polite e-mail to Australia's Minister for Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry, Senator Joe Ludwig at, and ask him to immediately halt the export of greyhounds to Macau.
Finally, I sent a letter today to the Macau Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau and asked them to determine whether Brooklyn the greyhound is still alive. According to the Canidrome, Brooklyn was injured in his last race, and has not competed in seven months. I hope he is still alive, but fear that he may not be. Once we hear from the government, we will share any news we receive on his current status.

It has been a long road in our fight to help the greyhounds in Macau. But together, I know we can see it through to the end and make life better for these dogs.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Greyhound Breeders Can't Handle the Truth

One of the photos that greyhound breeders don't want you to see
Earlier this week we released The Secret Life of Greyhound Puppies, a groundbreaking new video that documents the greyhound breeding industry. In a matter of hours, more than two thousand people watched this video and saw for themselves how greyhound puppies live.

Across the country thousands of young greyhounds are kept outside in dirt pens and are tattooed at a young age. Meanwhile, breeding dogs endure lives of confinement in small cages. This is a sad reality of the greyhound racing industry, and something we are working to change.

Yesterday, The Secret Life of Greyhound Puppies was temporarily removed from YouTube after greyhound breeder Wendy Brotherton filed a false copyright complaint. We immediately responded to this false claim, and expect the video to be fully restored soon.

This is not the first time that dog race promoters have tried to intimidate us and prevent the public from seeing what happens to greyhounds. In fact, we have faced similar false complaints repeatedly over the years. Every single time, we have fought these false complaints and won. Most notably, we won a lawsuit by dog track owner Charlie Sarkis in which he wrongly claimed he had been defamed. In addition to winning the case, the court ordered Sarkis to pay our full attorneys fees as a penalty for his misrepresentation.

America was founded, in part, on the public right to freedom of speech. When it comes to copyrights, citizens have a fair use for certain uses such as education and public participation. At GREY2K USA, we document the greyhound racing industry in unprecedented ways, and give the public accurate information that allows them to cast informed votes and make good consumer choices. We are proud of our record, and know that our best days are ahead of us.

Finally, it shouldn't surprise anyone that greyhound breeders would resort to extreme measures to hide their cruelty. They have a long track record of trying to intimidate lawmakers, greyhound advocates, and the greyhound adoption community. One thing is certain, though. With your support, we won't let them get away with it.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

The Secret Life of Greyhound Puppies

A greyhound mother with her puppies
Thanks to the hard work of local adoption groups, the public has become increasingly familiar with greyhounds and their gentle nature. Few of us, however, know what life is like for greyhound puppies in the racing industry.

I'm hopeful this will start to change today with the release of a new video, The Secret Life of Greyhound Puppies, which documents the greyhound breeding industry as never before. This new video contains photographs that were taken between 2006 and 2012 by local officials, greyhound breeders, and owners, at facilities in Oklahoma, Kansas, Texas and West Virginia.

The Secret Life of Greyhound Puppies shows greyhound puppies being tattooed at a few months of age, puppies kept outside with just small buildings for shelter, and breeding dogs enduring lives of confinement.  Some of the photographs in this new video were taken by county officials at an Oklahoma greyhound breeding farm owned by Kay Smith, one of the largest greyhound breeders in the country. These Oklahoma photographs are being publicly released today for the first time.
A greyhound puppy being tattooed

I'm confident that the more people know about commercial greyhound racing, the better things will be for greyhounds. Please watch our new video today, and then share it with others. Together, we can make real changes for these sweet dogs, and move closer to the day when greyhound racing ends completely.

Thursday, November 29, 2012

Greyhound Trainer Asks That Dog Be Killed Because of His Gender

This morning, I asked the Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission to open an investigation into an incident involving a greyhound named Pat C Rasputin.

On April 21, the two-year-old dog suffered a broken leg at Dubuque Greyhound Park. What happened next is deeply disturbing. According to state veterinarian Dr. Marianne Kirkendall:
"The trainer requested euthanasia since it was a male dog. This was declined as not medically necessary. The limb was wrapped and the dog was given Torbugesic (0.7cc) IM. Trainer declined other pain meds."
In my request for investigation, I asked the state to ascertain the ultimate fate of Pat C Rasputin, and indicate whether trainer Lee Haynes violated any racing rules or state laws by requesting that a dog be killed because of his gender. Also, I have requested that regulators determine whether this is a common request at Iowa tracks. According to state records, 24 greyhounds were euthanized in the state between January 2011 and July 2012. Of these, 62.5% were male dogs.

Dr. Kirkendall should be applauded for denying the callous request that Pat C Rasputin be killed simply for being a boy. At the same time, this is a sad example of how dog race promoters put personal profit ahead of animal welfare. Commercial greyhound racing goes against the values of our community, and it's time for it to end.

Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Nearly Two Hundred Greyhounds Injured in Iowa, Debate on Decoupling Resumes

Harley raced at Dubuque Greyhound Park
The debate over greyhound decoupling in Iowa has resumed, and it couldn't come at a better time for the dogs.

On Sunday, the Des Moines Register reported the results of a GREY2K USA analysis of state greyhound injury reports. In total, 175 greyhound injuries were reported at Iowa dog tracks between January 2011 and July 2012. Most of these injuries involved broken legs, and other reported injuries included sprains, tears, a fractured skull and a broken neck. During the same time period, 24 greyhounds were euthanized. The Des Moines Register story was picked up the Associated Press, and is being reported all over the country.

In part, these greyhound injuries are a consequence of legislative inaction. As I told the Register, there isn't going to be a miraculous revival of dog racing. The only question now is how many dogs will suffer and die before lawmakers do the right thing.

In each of the last three years, legislation has been introduced that would allow Mystique Casino and Horseshoe Council Bluffs to stop dog racing. Under current law these two casinos must hold live greyhound races to stay open, and must also subsidize greyhound breeders with millions in casino profits. As a result of this bad public policy, greyhound racing is being artificially propped up even though interest in the races continues to decline.

I'm confident that these greyhound decoupling bills will pass when they were given a fair vote in the state legislature. Unfortunately that hasn't happened, and greyhound breeders have given lawmakers hundreds of thousands of dollars in campaign contributions while fighting to protect their subsidies.

Thankfully, there is reason to be optimistic about the upcoming session. This morning, Council Bluffs Mayor Tom Hanafan told the Daily Nonpareil newspaper that he would support repurposing the dog track at Horseshoe Council Bluffs. Meanwhile, State Representative Mark Brandenberg told the newspaper that he not only supported the proposal, but he believed it will create jobs:
"If we could develop that, there could be more jobs. It might be different kinds of jobs, but it would help the economy."
Finally, it's worth noting that dog race promoters used misleading arguments when they were asked to comment on greyhound injuries in the state. When he was contacted by the Register, lobbyist Jim Quilty claimed that the greyhound injury rate is lower than the injury rate for high school athletes. This absurd comparison was discredited in 2008 by leading expert Dr. Dawn Comstock. Referring to the misuse of one of her studies, Dr. Comstock was blunt in her assessment of this claim:
"It's quite a bit of a misrepresentation."
Dr. Comstock also questioned the basic premise of comparing human athlete injuries to greyhound injuries, given their physiological differences.

Meanwhile, greyhound breeder Beverly Yates told the Register that many of the dogs that suffer injuries, including broken legs, eventually return to racing. This claim is simply false. According to two databases used by gamblers, nearly 80% of the greyhounds that were injured in Iowa between January 2011 and July 2012 never raced again.

Greyhound breeders use false arguments because they can't debate on the facts. They cannot deny that greyhound racing is no longer viable, or that a large number of dogs suffer broken legs and other injuries. Instead, all they can do is make another campaign contribution and hope that their subsidies continue.

Even though it will not come soon enough to help the dogs who have already suffered, I'm confident that Iowa lawmakers will soon make a humane choice and allow greyhound racing to end. If they don't, we will eventually hear about the greyhounds who died in 2013 because of a bad law.

Thursday, November 15, 2012

Dangerous Bill to Prop up the Cruelty of Greyhound Racing Filed in Texas

Gable Weeman died at Gulf in 2010 after suffering a broken leg
Early next year, state legislatures across the country will consider new laws related to dog racing and greyhound welfare. Most of these measures will be good bills that we will support. There will also be proposals, though, that would harm greyhounds and we will have to defeat.

Today the first dangerous greyhound bill emerged, Texas Senate Joint Resolution 6. This measure was filed by Texas State Senator Rodney Ellis, and would prop up the cruelty of dog racing. Specifically, it would legalize slot machines at racetracks and require that this new form of gambling be used to subsidize greyhound races. According to the bill:
"The general law must ... provide sufficient revenue to the horse and greyhound breed registries and the horsemen's organization to facilitate a nationally competitive horse and greyhound racing industry in this state."
Also, SJR 6 would allow slot machines at up to eight licensed racetracks. This means that several greyhound racetracks that are currently closed would likely reopen.

Greyhound racing has nearly ended in the Lone Star State. It is now limited to only one track, Gulf Greyhound Park. At Gulf, gambling on dog racing continues to decline while hundreds of greyhounds endure lives of confinement and suffer serious injuries.

A year ago, we released video footage of some of the dogs who have died at Gulf. Between 2008 and August 2011 more than 1,300 greyhound injuries were reported at this track, and 49 dogs died or were euthanized.

We are very close to the end of greyhound racing in Texas, and it would be a tragedy if dog race promoters were bailed out now. This would be a disastrous policy, and would cause the suffering and death of countless greyhounds.

As we move into the legislative season next year, we will keep you updated on Texas SJR 6 and all of the other greyhound related bills. Working together, I know that we can make even more progress for these wonderful dogs.

Tuesday, November 6, 2012

The Power of the People

Volunteers campaign for the Greyhound Protection Act in 2008
As we mark election day in the United States, it's worth reflecting on the power that we all hold as stakeholders in a representative democracy. I was reminded of people power again last week, when London Mayor Boris Johnson issued a ruling that forever ends greyhound racing at iconic Walthamstow Stadium.

After he announced his decision, Mayor Johnson told BBC radio that he tried to accommodate dog racing supporters but in the end concluded that greyhound racing was no longer viable at the site. He also acknowledged the compassionate comments he had received from greyhound advocates all over the world:
"We received thousands of representations from people in the opposite sense who feel that greyhound racing is cruel, now I don't necessarily agree with them, all I'm saying to you is that it was a deeply controversial decision either way."
This is the way a representative democracy is supposed to work. Even though the mayor is not personally opposed to greyhound racing, he listened to the voices of citizens. In fact, nearly 84% of all public comments the mayor received on the Walthamstow housing proposal were requests that greyhound racing not be introduced. According to his official ruling:
"1,990 objections were received in the third category of representations related to animal cruelty if the greyhound stadium were to reopen. Issues raised included the condition of kennels for the raising of greyhounds and the length they are locked in, ill treatment of the dogs whilst being kept for racing, culling of retired dogs and those younger dogs that are not suitable for racing, injuries to dogs while racing, the use of surplus dogs in medical research, the use of retired greyhounds to supply blood to veterinary practices, the sale of dogs organs to the Royal Vetinary College and promotion of gambling."
From across the globe, thousands of greyhound advocates spoke with one clear voice and Mayor Boris Johnson heard us. This is not the first time that our people power has won the day against the dog racing industry's money and muscle. At our core, GREY2K USA is a grassroots organization. All of our key victories, including the 2008 passage of the Greyhound Protection Act ballot question in Massachusetts, have always depended on grassroots support.

Our commitment to grassroots engagement is effective because we live in a society that is based on self government and is designed to change with the times. This change was cited in 1816 by Thomas Jefferson, the principal author of the Declaration of Independence:
"I am not an advocate for frequent changes in laws and constitutions, but laws and institutions must go hand in hand with the progress of the human mind. As that becomes more developed, more enlightened, as new discoveries are made, new truths discovered and manners and opinions change, with the change of circumstances, institutions must also advance to keep pace with the times."
Of course, being part of a representative democracy also carries responsibilities, and in a sense we get the government we deserve. If you live in the United States, please vote today. Meanwhile, at GREY2K USA we will continue harnessing the power of the people.

Thursday, November 1, 2012

Dog Track Pioneer: Golden Days of Greyhound Racing are Gone Forever

Raynham Park in Massachusetts is overgrown with weeds
It's not often that I agree with one of the pioneers of the commercial greyhound racing industry. That happens to be the case today, however. In the current edition of Greyhound Review magazine, industry Hall of Fame member Paul C. Hartwell acknowledges the collapse of the dog race industry in a column titled "Those old-time Crowds."

Hartwell, who has been involved with the greyhound racing industry since the 1930's, starts his column by pointing out that the crowds are gone, and regular dog track customers have vanished:
"For most of my racing life there was a hard-core of racetrack customers that were just as regular at the track as were the employees or dogmen. They showed up every night just as if they were on a payroll. Some were touts, some were gamblers, and for some it was just the right place to be. For whatever reason they were there, they never missed a night or a race and they knew as much about the overall racing operation as anyone that was working at the track. You just don't see that anymore."
Hartwell then quotes National Greyhound Association Secretary-Treasurer Gary Guccione, who says that because voters ended greyhound racing in Massachusetts, track patrons now have to return to their "assisted living facilities" to "stare at the TV." This is certainly not a vote of confidence in dog racing.

Finally, Hartwell ends his essay by stating that even though he believes commercial greyhound racing will survive in some form, its golden days are over:
"It looks like greyhound racing came along when the country needed it, but now the attitude of the public has changed and its attention is aimed elsewhere. For this reason, even though I believe that greyhound racing, in one form or another, will be around for many years to come, I don't think any amount of  high-powered advertising is going to bring back the golden years many of us were fortunate to have experienced."
I concur with Hartwell that the attitude of the public has changed, and the glory days of greyhound racing are gone forever. I would go a step further, however, and point out that commercial greyhound racing is not only a dying industry, it is a cultural dinosaur.

The dog race industry can no longer effectively compete with other forms of entertainment, and is out of touch with mainstream values on the humane treatment of animals. It is an antiquated relic from a previous generation, and will eventually end.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Greyhound Advocates Win Critical Victory, London Mayor Chooses Housing Instead of Dog Track

Greyhound advocates won a major victory today, when London Mayor Boris Johnson approved a proposal to build affordable housing on the site of the former Walthamstow Dog Track. The track will now be demolished.

In his decision, Mayor Johnson lamented the end of greyhound racing but also acknowledged that it is time for London to move on:
"I share the sadness of many people about the demise of dog racing from this historic corner of London. However, I believe this proposal will provide a major boost for Walthamstow, creating new jobs and new homes, many of which will be affordable and attract desperately needed new investment into the area."
We are grateful to everyone who joined us in this important campaign, including advocacy group GreytExploitations. Most of all, we are grateful to everyone who e-mailed the mayor and asked him to side with the dogs. This victory proves once again that a grassroots campaign built on common sense and compassion can succeed, and that history is on our side. Today, we are a step closer to ending the cruelty of greyhound racing.

Tuesday, October 23, 2012

Greyhound Advocates From All Over the World Ask London Mayor to Side With the Dogs

One of many greyhound photos sent to Mayor Johnson
Next week London Mayor Boris Johnson will decide the fate of Walthamstow Stadium, an iconic dog track that has been closed since 2008. The mayor is now considering a proposal to turn the closed track into affordable housing, and end dog racing forever at the site. Initially, the Mayor was scheduled to make his decision this week. However, it has been delayed by six days, and will now be announced on Tuesday, October 30.

Over the past few days, nearly 1,500 greyhound advocates from all over the world have asked Mayor Johnson to side with the dogs. Also, nearly two hundred greyhound adopters have sent the mayor photos of their rescued friends. This outpouring of support is very powerful, and I believe it will have a direct impact on the mayor's ruling.

Here are excerpts of some of the compassionate messages Mayor Johnson has received:
"Mayor Johnson, what a fantastic opportunity to help animals and humans at the same time. Please opt for affordable housing, not animal cruelty."
"As a Londoner who voted for you - please consider the silent victims in this proposal for dog racing at Walthamstow."
"Mayor Johnson: my dad used to be a bookie at Walthamstow, and I know how badly the dogs that run their heart out at that track are treated when they fail to win."
"You did a great job with the Olympics, please don't turn around now and reopen the Greyhound track at Walthamstow. It would be a cruel and inhumane thing to do!"
"I have attached a photo of one of my rescued greyhounds, I have 4 more at home, all of which have sad stories of neglect. She once ran at Walthamstow Stadium. Unfortunately once she broke her hock, which is a very common injury in racing greyhounds."
"Housing is desperately needed in London and the old stadium would be a perfect area for redevelopment in very much needed affordable homes."
"PLEASE DO NOT allow my neighbouring borough of Walthamstow to be blighted by sanctioned, industrial scale animal abuse."
If you haven't already, please send your e-mail to Mayor Johnson right away. There are seven days left until he determines the future of Walthamstow Stadium, and every compassionate message will make a difference.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

With Only Days Left, British Greyhounds Need Our Help

In only a few days, London Mayor Boris Johnson will decide the fate of the iconic Walthamstow dog track. His decision will have a direct impact on thousands of greyhounds, and we need your help to make sure he sides with the dogs.

Countless greyhounds suffered and died at this track before it closed in 2008. Since then, a housing association has purchased the site, and announced plans to repurpose Walthamstow as affordable housing. This housing plan has been approved by local officials, and has been sent to Mayor Johnson for a final decision. According to news reports, the Mayor will announce his final decision on Walthamstow on Wednesday, October 24. Dog race promoters have spent the last few years trying to resurrect greyhound racing at Walthamstow, and are pressuring the mayor to reject the housing plan.

The choice that Mayor Johnson faces is a simple one. He can either support affordable housing, or he can instead support industrialized cruelty.

Please contact Mayor Johnson right away, and ask him to side with the dogs. Tell him that greyhound racing is cruel and inhumane, and should not be allowed to return to Walthamstow. Also, if you are a greyhound adopter, please send him a photo of your rescued friend.

With only days left, it is critical that we let Mayor Johnson know what is at stake in this decision. I've already sent my e-mail to the mayor, and included a photo of rescued greyhound Zoe. I told him how important Zoe is to me, and asked him to keep her in mind when he makes this important decision next week.

Please send your e-mail to Mayor Johnson today, and then ask other animal lovers to also help with this campaign. Together we can give British greyhounds a voice, and make sure they are heard on this important issue.

Wednesday, October 10, 2012

Meet GREY2K USA Board Member Kathy Pelton

As a national non-profit organization, GREY2K USA is governed by a Board of Directors. Our Board members are deeply committed to greyhound advocacy, and support our campaigns in many ways. Over the next few weeks, I will be highlighting GREY2K USA Board members and their continuing dedication to greyhound protection.

Kathy Pelton and rescued friend Molly
Greyhound racing has largely become a regional phenomenon in the United States. In fact, most of the dog tracks that still exist are in just one state, Florida. No one knows this problem better, or is more committed to change in the Sunshine State, than GREY2K USA Board Member Kathy Pelton.

Kathy first became an advocate in 2002 after adopting a greyhound named Eddy. Eddy was a particularly clever greyhound who was able to open doors. He was protective of Kathy, and they had a special bond until he passed at the age of ten. Today, she lives in South Florida with her husband Ken and another rescued greyhound named Molly.

Kathy is a real force when it comes to educating the public about the problems with dog racing, and regularly holds educational tabling events. She is also politically engaged, and helps lead GREY2K USA's grassroots lobbying efforts in Florida.

Kathy told me that she is particularly concerned about the injuries greyhound suffer in the racing industry. She points out that these injuries, which are too often fatal, cannot be denied by even the most ardent dog race promoters.

Looking forward, Kathy is hopeful that Florida lawmakers will pass greyhound decoupling legislation when they meet again early next year. To her, the passage of this important bill would be the start of a new chapter for Florida's greyhounds.

At GREY2K USA, our passion for greyhound welfare is equaled only by our determination to get the job done. Kathy Pelton is an powerful example of this determination, and we are fortunate to have her on our Board of Directors.

Friday, September 14, 2012

Help Didn't Come Soon Enough for Isaiah the Greyhound

Photo by FL Dept. of Business and Professional Regulation
A year ago, a Florida proposal to decouple greyhound racing from other forms of gambling stalled on the last day of the legislative session. Even though the measure had passed overwhelmingly in both the State House of Representatives and State Senate, it lost steam in the final hours and did not become law. I was heartbroken, and knew the failure of this important bill would result in the needless suffering and death of more greyhounds.

In fighting for Florida's greyhounds, we assembled a strong and diverse coalition. Supporters included the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to AnimalsThe Humane Society of the United StatesGreyhound Adoptions of Florida, and newspapers across the state. The measure was also supported by racetrack owners who are losing money on live greyhound racing. Our coalition remains strong today, and I am optimistic that we will pass greyhound decoupling into law. This change, however, cannot come soon enough for the dogs now at Florida tracks.

Sadly, some dogs have already needlessly suffered due to the failure of decoupling legislation. For example, on July 10 a four-year-old greyhound named Kiowa JSK Isaiah died at Flagler. According to records we obtained from the state, he collapsed after winning a race and suffered a fatal heart attack. Isaiah's death was completely avoidable. In fact, it's possible that had decoupling become law in 2011 Isaiah would be lounging on a couch somewhere, living with a loving family.

For Isaiah, greyhound decoupling did not come soon enough. I know that greyhound racing will eventually end in Florida, the question now is how long it will take and how many more dogs will become casualties of inaction.

Over the past two years, the only real opposition to decoupling has come from greyhound breeders. Of course, these breeders have a direct financial interest in preventing change. The current racing mandate is effectively a state subsidy for their cruel business, and they will do whatever it takes to perpetuate it. These greyhound breeders have also convinced a small number of greyhound adopters, by using scare tactics, to oppose decoupling. They have made all sorts of wild accusations, including the false claim that decoupling will somehow harm greyhounds.

The truth, however, is that doing nothing in Florida is harming greyhounds. Dogs like Isaiah can no longer wait. It's time for greyhound decoupling to pass, so that thousands of greyhounds can be given the second chance they deserve.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Final Thoughts on Dog Racing in the United Kingdom

Christine Dorchak with Paul Littlefair of the RSPCA
Yesterday, GREY2K USA President Christine Dorchak and I returned from our fact-finding trip to learn about greyhound racing in the United Kingdom. The final days of this trip were perhaps the most hectic of all.

On Thursday we traveled to Horsham to meet with the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals. The RSPCA was the first established animal welfare charity in the world, and today helps animals in many ways. This meeting helped us understand the history of the animal welfare movement in the United Kingdom, and the work the RSPCA is already doing to help greyhounds. Needless to say, this context is invaluable.

On Friday we traveled to Hastings to meet with Kim Stallwood. Kim has decades of experience in the animal protection movement, and is an expert on the subject of political action for animals. He is also working on a new book, titled Animal Dharma.

Poppy and Banana enjoy the 1,000 Greyhounds event
We ended our trip on Sunday by participating in an event in Devon called 1,000 Greyhounds. Organizers set the very ambitious goal of breaking the Guinness World Record for the largest single-breed dog walk, while also raising funds for greyhound adoption. Even though the event fell short of the record, hundreds of rescued greyhounds from all over the country participated. We were honored to help sponsor this event, and meet many wonderful advocates and adopters. Some of the adoption and advocacy groups that also sponsored 1,000 Greyhounds include Action for Greyhounds, Dogs Trust, Greyhound Safe and the Retired Greyhound Trust.

We learned a tremendous amount about greyhound racing in the United Kingdom in just a few short days. We also met many wonderful greyhound advocates who believe that the dogs deserve better. We look forward to working with these humane leaders in future efforts to help greyhounds.

Finally, I'm disappointed that we were not given a meeting with the Greyhound Board of Great Britain even though we requested one. There are many questions we would have liked to ask the industry directly, but for now those questions remain unanswered.

Thursday, September 6, 2012

A Voice for Greyhounds and a Leader for All Animals

Belle Vue Stadium in Manchester
On Wednesday, our fact-finding trip of the British greyhound racing industry moved to Manchester. There, we met a determined group of grassroots activists who have joined together to form Shut Down Belle Vue.  Belle Vue Stadium is the oldest greyhound racetrack in the United Kingdom.

This group is focused on reducing attendance at the iconic dog track, and appears to be having a real impact. Even though they are matched against a powerful, well established track, Shut Down Belle Vue continues to fight because they believe the dogs deserve to have a voice. They are also concerned about greyhound cruelty throughout the country, and would like to see reforms at the national level.

Visiting the League Against Cruel Sports
The next day, we headed to Godalming where we visited the League Against Cruel Sports. The League was founded nearly ninety years ago, and fights for animal protection through investigations, campaigning and lobbying. They are highly effective, and have an impressive record of humane victories.

In many ways, the League Against Cruel Sports reminds me of the work we do at GREY2K USA. Board President Christine Dorchak and I both felt a kinship with this great organization, and look forward to working together to help greyhounds in the years to come.

A greyhound kennel in the UK
The more we learn about greyhound racing in the United Kingdom, the more similarities we see between the UK and the United States. In both countries, the greyhound racing industry lacks transparency. Also, both countries are home to grassroots activists and animal protection groups who believe that greyhounds deserve better.

These similarities remind me of the shared history the racing industry has on both sides of the Atlantic, and gives me hope that change is possible. Perhaps it could start in Manchester, at the same place where greyhound racing was first introduced in the United Kingdom.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

GREY2K USA Investigates Greyhound Racing in the United Kingdom

A Ladbrokes Betting Shop
Over the past few years, our mission at GREY2K USA has been slowly expanding to include international campaigns. This shift is partly due to investigative work by Board member Charmaine Settle, who has made fact-finding trips to Macau and Vietnam. Her research led to the Rescue Brooklyn campaign, and our joint effort with Animals Australia, Animals Asia and ANIMA to push for an adoption program at the Canidrome.

This week, we are starting a new chapter in our international work with a fact finding trip to the United Kingdom. Our goal is to learn as much about the British dog racing industry as possible. GREY2K USA Board President Christine Dorchak and I are meeting with established animal welfare groups, adoption leaders and grassroots activists. We are also documenting as many different parts of the industry as possible. To reduce costs we are staying with advocates, and volunteers are helping us travel across the country. Our schedule is extremely full, and unfortunately we don't really have any downtime. I've always wanted to visit Buckingham Palace, but that will have to wait!

We landed on Saturday morning just after 6:00 AM, and hit the ground running. A few hours later, we visited a Ladbrokes betting shop. We have seen dozens of these betting shops since we arrived, an they are clearly one of the reasons why greyhound racing still exists in the UK. In these shops, gamblers are able to bet on dog races from throughout the country. Horse racing is also offered, along with slot machine gambling. The individual manning the betting shop we visited was gracious and even offered us tea or coffee, which we politely declined.

A trialing race at Henlow Dog Race Stadium
Later that night we visited our first track, Henlow Dog Racing Stadium. I was surprised at how narrow the race course was, compared to dog tracks in the United States. There were about two hundred people attending the races, and the crowd included young people and women. The track also had a hand-written sign about greyhound adoption posted in an area where people purchased food.

Overall, the track was much smaller than the large-scale commercial operations we have documented in America. Only six dogs compete in each race. Christine spoke to a greyhound trainer who had dogs that were being given trails to determine whether they can enter official races. After one of his dogs failed to post the necessary time Christine asked him what would happen to the dog, who is not yet two years old. He told her that he would simply have to get rid of her.
Dr. Caroline Allen

Yesterday we participated in a series of meetings with animal welfare experts, including veterinarian Dr. Caroline Allen, the national spokesperson on animal issues for the Green Party. Dr. Allen has been an outspoken voice for the greyhounds in the debate over Walthamstow Stadium.

Today we are meeting with several grassroots organizations including GreytExploitations, a group that has extensively documented humane problems in the British greyhound racing industry.

I'll try to write as much as possible about this fact finding trip, and share what we learn. So far, I'm very encouraged. It's clear that there are many people in the UK who care about greyhounds, and want to see positive changes.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Covering Up the Death of a Nameless Greyhound

Camby the greyhound
According to state records, two greyhound trainers and an assistant trainer have been suspended at Southland Greyhound Park after they failed to report the death of a dog. The greyhound, which is not named in official records, died while being transported to the track to race.

Here is what the records show regarding this tragic incident:
  • On April 14, 2012 a kennel at Southland received seventeen dogs. When the hauler arrived at the facility, it was discovered that one greyhound had died during the trip.
  • After the dead dog was discovered, assistant trainer Will Rogers and greyhound trainer Gerald Love transported the body to a local veterinary clinic.
  • Later that night, Southland track officials learned of the incident and questioned Rogers along with greyhound trainer J.J. Moore. Moore was the licensed trainer responsible for the kennel that the dog was being sent to.
  • Under questioning, Rogers and Moore indicated that they did not report the dog's death because they did not have the necessary phone numbers, and did not believe the track's policies regarding deceased greyhounds applied to the incident. Rogers also claimed that the hauler was in a parking lot outside the kennel compound when the dead dog was discovered.
  • Rogers then submitted a letter to track officials in which he stated that he had "lied" about the incident and apologized.
For their part in the cover up, Rogers and Moore were both fined $1,000 and suspended for six months. Love was fined $250 and suspended for two weeks.

As sad as this incident is, it does raise an important issue about transparency. Perhaps it is apropos that the greyhound who died in this case remains nameless. This dog had a name, a family, and a story. Now, however, he or she is just another nameless greyhound who died for the racing industry.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Humane Advocates are Winning the Debate Over Greyhound Racing

Jake runs on the beach
In the debate over the future of greyhound racing, humane advocates are winning. Just consider these facts:
  • According to statistics from the National Greyhound Association, for the first six months of 2012 the number of dogs registered to race has declined by 14% when compared to a year ago.
  • During the same time period, the number of greyhound litters reported to the National Greyhound Association has declined by 4%.
  • In July 2012, the amount gambled on pari-mutuel wagering at Florida dog tracks was down by $1.6 million when compared to July 2011.
The greyhound racing industry is slowly dying. Greyhound breeders have repeatedly tried to convince themselves that there will be some magic revival of their cruel industry, but that's not happening. This decline also explains why dog race promoters have resorted to desperate personal attacks. At some level, even greyhound breeders know that their industry is vanishing before their eyes.

While these new statistics are good news for greyhounds, we must continue fighting for the dogs. At GREY2K USA, we will work hard until the cruelty of greyhound racing ends everywhere. We are making progress, but there is a lot still left to do.