Tuesday, April 24, 2012

State Inspection: Ticks "Crawling up the Wall" in Kennel at Tucson Greyhound Park

With each passing month, more evidence emerges of humane problems at Tucson Greyhound Park.  Last week, we received new state records that document neglectful conditions in one of the track kennels, as well as an ongoing problem with greyhound injuries.

According to a March 6, 2012 Arizona Department of Racing Stewards Report, a state inspection revealed "ticks crawling up the wall" in the Brian Lewis Kennel:
"Brian Lewis kennel had ticks crawling up the wall behind the crates during a State Inspection and TGP Management told State Officials that the kennel would be addressed as far as cleanliness and to this date nothing has been done."
This is not the first time that poor kennel conditions have been documented at Tucson Greyhound Park.  In fact, similar conditions have been documented at the facility over and over again.  Sadly, it's becoming all too obvious that track management is simply incapable of addressing this chronic problem.

Meanwhile, the same March 6 Stewards Report also documents continued problems with track conditions at Tucson.  The Stewards Report refers to a previous meeting between kennel operators and track General Manager Tom Taylor, and states:
"After nothing was resolved from a meeting with the GM and trainers/owners, some trainers/kennel operators are now holding the State responsible for all the injuries at Tucson Greyhound Park.  As you can see there are 7 scratched greyhounds tonight 'ALL LAME'"
Later in the report, state officials indicate that one kennel owner contacted them directly to voice her concerns:
"Donna Mann called the Stewards off the roof to talk about the out of control injuries.  She has a list of 17 injuries which she gave to management, the racing office, and left copies in the racing office titled 'DAN' and the Director of Racing asked 'why do you need him it's our issue' and to date Dan Reinertson has not received copies."

Finally, it's important to note that this Stewards Report also provides evidence that track management is indifferent to humane problems at Tucson Greyhound Park.  Reading through the records, a sad pattern emerges.  The state documents neglectful conditions in a track kennel, management tells the state they will address it, but then nothing happens.  Kennel owners hold a meeting with management about injuries, but "nothing (i)s resolved."  A kennel owner takes her concerns about injuries directly to state officials, but the track Director of Racing discourages her from reporting the problem.

This indifference by Tucson Greyhound Park management is part of the problem.  It proves that the track is incapable of being a good corporate citizen, and cannot be trusted to resolve even the most basic humane issues at the facility.  That is why it's time for Arizona lawmakers and voters to step up and help the greyhounds.  If they don't, no one will.

Tuesday, April 17, 2012

Proposal to Promote Greyhound Adoption Advances Despite Opposition from Breeders

Over the past two weeks GREY2K USA participated in a contest hosted by GOOD, a collaboration of individuals, non-profits and businesses that have joined together in the shared goal of "pushing the world forward." The contest asked organizations to submit proposals indicating how $2,500 would support and expand their work.

Our proposal was to sponsor digital billboards throughout Florida that would point readers to a web site with greyhound adoption information and links to rescue groups. We released several billboard designs that were created by GREY2K USA Communications Manager Danielle Festa, and you will find these designs at right.

In total 443 proposals were submitted to GOOD, addressing a wide variety of important issues. As of right now, it appears that GREY2K USA will finish third out of these 443 proposals. Obviously, we hoped we would win this contest and are disappointed to finish third. Nonetheless, we are thankful for all of our supporters who voted for the greyhounds, and are grateful to GOOD for this wonderful opportunity.

Most importantly, I'm happy to announce that despite this third-place finish our adoption billboard proposal will move forward. Thanks to generous donations by greyhound advocates from across the country, the GREY2K USA Education Fund has already raised more than $1,500 for this project to promote adoption. We have also submitted an application to a very compassionate foundation for this project and now await a response. If you are interested in helping, please make a tax-deductible donation today.

Finally, it is important to note that this is only one way in which GREY2K USA supports and promotes greyhound adoption. We encourage our supporters to adopt these wonderful dogs, which my adopted friend Zoe would tell you make wonderful companions. GREY2K USA also gives adoption referrals to greyhound adoption groups across the world, and regularly makes contributions to adoption groups. Since 2009, GREY2K USA and the GREY2K USA Education Fund have made more than fifty direct contributions to adoption groups in seventeen states.

As the cruelty of dog racing ends, greyhound breeders have begun circulating all sorts of false accusations and personal attacks regarding our work. One common myth they spread is that GREY2K USA does not support greyhound adoption. That is patently false. It is also deeply ironic in light of the industry's policy of threatening adoption groups that speak up for the dogs.

In fact, I'm sad to say that greyhound racing supporters even opposed our billboard proposal to promote greyhound adoption. This opposition is further proof that greyhound breeders are willing to put their financial interests before the welfare of the dogs. Their reckless profit priority is yet another reason why greyhound racing must end.

Thursday, April 12, 2012

Greyhounds Still Given Anabolic Steroids at Tucson Track, Voter Law Ignored

This morning, Tucson Weekly documented the continued use of anabolic steroids at Tucson Greyhound Park. Reporter Tim Vanderpool personally witnessed steroid injections and took photographs, and wrote about his interaction with track veterinarian Dr. Joe Robinson:
"In morning's early light, Dr. Joe Robinson pokes the syringe in a tiny bottle, raises it above his head and draws back the plunger. Robinson apparently doesn't wish to publicize his finesse; each time I try to photograph this handiwork the longtime veterinarian spins his back to me."
Even though this harmful practice was outlawed by South Tucson voters, it is continuing at Tucson Greyhound Park. To circumvent the law, the dogs are taken to a parking lot just outside city limits to be injected. It is outrageous that Tucson Greyhound Park would so blatantly ignore the will of local voters.

Most importantly, it is deeply troubling that female dogs at Tucson Greyhound Park are still being given an anabolic steroid to prevent estrus. According to Care of the Racing and Retired Greyhound, there are several side effects of this dangerous practice:
"The adverse side effects of male-derived hormonal preparations are increased aggression which can result in fighting during trialing or racing; increased weight due to water retention; occasional loss of vigor; and virilization. The latter is evidenced by vulvar swelling, enlarged protruding reddened clitoris, and a clear to cloudy mucoid discharge from the vulva and mats the hairs under the tail where contact is made."
Thankfully, a humane proposal is now moving through the Arizona legislature that could significantly reduce racing at Tucson Greyhound Park. Because of the progress of this good legislation, I am hopeful that positive changes will come soon at the Tucson track.

Track management, however, should be on notice. The status quo is no longer acceptable at Tucson Greyhound Park. If reforms do not come soon, the humane community will have no choice but to take our case directly to the statewide ballot box. The greyhounds in Tucson need help, and cannot afford to wait any longer.

Tuesday, April 10, 2012

Six Greyhounds Die at Texas Dog Track From Mystery Illness

This morning, the Houston Chronicle and Galveston County Daily News both reported that six dogs recently died at Gulf Greyhound Park in Texas from a mystery illness that may be canine influenza. According to the Chronicle report, the track cancelled last weekend's races as a result of the outbreak and about 80 dogs are still sick.

Sadly, this is not the first outbreak of illness in the greyhound racing industry. Similar outbreaks in recent years have killed dogs at tracks in 11 states, including Florida. According to the Centers for Disease Control (CDC), these outbreaks were caused by a form of horse flu that had never before jumped species.

This new canine influenza has also spread to the general pet population, and according to a 2005 Boston Herald report can kill seemingly healthy dogs in a matter of hours:
"The greyhounds that perished in Wonderland's kennels died a death that no one would envy - a sudden onslaught that left some previously hearty racers dead in four hours."
Gulf Greyhound Park intends to resume racing as soon as tomorrow. Meanwhile, the first dog that died has been taken to Texas A&M University for a necropsy to determine the cause of death. If this necropsy confirms that the dog died from canine influenza, other racetracks across the country would be wise to closely monitor the greyhounds at their facilities for any sign of illness.

Finally, it's important to keep in mind that at racetracks across the country hundreds of dogs are kept in warehouse style kennels. Greyhounds are also routinely transferred from track to track, making it possible for disease to spread quickly. Taken together, these two standard practices in the dog racing industry have created an ideal situation for the spread of canine influenza.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

Fight Over Walthamstow Dog Track in East London Enters Homestretch

In just a few weeks, the long fight over Walthamstow Stadium in London could finally be over.

The track closed in August 2008 due to declining attendance. At the time, the track's owners acknowledged that dog racing had become "unsustainable." The land under the track was then purchased by an association named London and Quadrant, which plans to build affordable housing on the site.

For years, dog racing supporters have opposed this sensible plan, and tried to bully London and Quadrant into selling the track back to them at a loss. Thankfully, the association has stood its ground and the housing proposal has continued to advance.

Now, after months of public debate the Waltham Forest Council Planning Committee has announced that they will rule on the Walthamstow housing proposal on May 8. If London and Quadrant's proposal is approved, it will finally end the sad history of greyhound racing at Walthamstow. Meanwhile, if the proposal is rejected it is possible dog racing could eventually return to the site.

Last year, the advocacy group Greytexploitations released a powerful video about the humane consequences of reopening Walthamstow Stadium. Please watch this video today, then visit Greyhound Safe to find out how you can help.

Together, we can make sure May 8 is a good day for the greyhounds in London.

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

Historic Agreement Reached to Help Dogs Racing in Macau, but Track Breaks Promise

Four months ago, we wrote to the Canidrome racetrack in Macau and asked them to release Brooklyn the greyhound. Brooklyn is a four-year-old white, red, and fawn greyhound who is currently racing at the Canidrome. Like other greyhounds at the track, Brooklyn was likely born in Australia.

Every year, hundreds of greyhounds are killed at the Canidrome when they are no longer profitable. The track has no adoption program, and we knew that if we were unable to help Brooklyn, he would eventually be killed.

Because of this impending peril, we hoped to receive a quick response from the track's management. But days passed, and no response came. Soon, days became weeks and weeks turned into months. To this day, we have received no formal reply.

A few weeks ago, however, things began to change for the greyhounds in Macau. At the request of the Macau government, the racetrack entered into formal negotiations with government officials and ANIMA, a local animal protection organization headed by director Albano Martins. After hours of talks over several days, a groundbreaking agreement was tentatively reached.

Under this historic agreement, Brooklyn would be transferred to ANIMA and eventually adopted. This would be a sign of good faith on behalf of the Canidrome, which also agreed to create an adoption program for all the the greyhounds racing at the track.

It is important to keep in mind that this agreement would not address all of the problems at the Canidrome. Unfortunately, a large number of greyhounds are injured at the track. Also, it is unclear how many of the Macau greyhounds can be adopted. There are significant logistical challenges in finding homes for all of these dogs, which will likely need to be shipped to other countries.

Nonetheless, this agreement was an important first step for the greyhounds. All of the parties should be proud of this accomplishment, which would not have been possible without the leadership of ANIMA and the Macau government.

Sadly, over the past few days this historic agreement has begun to falter. The first greyhound was scheduled to be transferred to ANIMA yesterday, and the deadline passed without the track meeting its obligation. Track managers are now claiming that they must obtain independent approval from the legal owners of dogs in order to move forward. This is simply nonsense, and is refuted by the fact that the largest owner of greyhounds at the Canidrome is the track itself.

Despite this apparent setback, I am hopeful that we are on the verge of a major breakthrough in our effort to help the Macau greyhounds. We are encouraged by these recent developments, and will continue working with Animals Australia, Animals Asia and others until this situation is fully resolved.

In his most recent race, Brooklyn finished first. It would be wonderful if his next race was straight to a couch, and the home of a loving family.