Tuesday, July 31, 2012

Meet GREY2K USA Board Member Valarie Wolf

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.

Board Member Valarie Wolf with Kelly and Meadow
It is not always easy to fight for greyhounds, and one of the ways that GREY2K USA soldiers on is by relying on passionate Board members like Valarie Wolf. Valarie is a native Californian who lives in Orange County with her husband and two Italian greyhounds, Kelly and Meadow.

Val's life truly changed a few years ago when she began to learn about the sad fate of galgos in Spain.  That cruelty opened her eyes to other humane problems, including the suffering of racing greyhounds. Today, she is a committed animal advocate.

Val is also an accomplished artist, and brings a creative perspective to her role as a GREY2K USA Board officer. Her artistic eye sees greyhounds as "living sculptures." She remembers seeing photographs of sighthounds in an encyclopedia when she was about ten years old, and being awe-struck by the beautiful lines and angles of  the graceful dogs.

In closing, Valarie tells me that she will always do her best to fight for animals. "They are innocent," she says.  "They need every voice they can get." She also adds that greyhound breeders can try to spin the truth any way they want, but it won't change the fact that dog racing is cruel and inhumane. "They will apparently do anything to make it sound like the dog racing industry is all sweetness and light, but it's not."

Valarie Wolf is a wonderful voice for the greyhounds, and we are grateful to have her on the GREY2K USA team.

Wednesday, July 25, 2012

Don't Let Dog Race Promoters Get Away With This

Rescued Greyhound Maggie May
Over the last few years, GREY2K USA has made tremendous progress toward ending greyhound racing. Since our formation, the number of active dog tracks in the United States has been cut in half. Some of these closures are a direct result of our work, while others were the result of many factors. What is clear, however, is that greyhound racing is slowly dying all over the country.

In the midst of this decline, a small group of dog race supporters have begun lashing out at anyone who speaks up for the greyhounds. They have created internet sites where they vent their frustrations and circulate all sorts of myths about GREY2K USA and other animal protection groups. Most of these myths are simply crazy, like the false claim that I drive an "expensive company car."  This one is sort of amusing, because I don't even own a car and primarily use public transportation to get around.

One particular myth being circulated by greyhound breeders, however, is dangerous.  Rather than hide from this ugly lie, I want to confront it while also asking for your help. I'm hoping you won't let these dog racing supporters get away with it.


Rory Goree, photo from Greyhounds Make Great Pets
But before I dispel this dangerous myth, let me introduce you to Rory Goree. Rory is a dog race supporter who was recently appointed to the Arizona Racing Commission. He seems to have an obsession with GREY2K USA President Christine Dorchak, and has repeatedly mocked her over a near-fatal accident two decades ago in which she was struck by a train while walking her dog. Rory has called Christine a "train wreck" and asked whether Christine would be provided with "trolley safety tips" when she traveled to Florida last month to promote greyhound adoption.

He also made a deeply offensive sexist remark three weeks ago after Christine visited the now-closed Raynham dog track:
"Anyone else notice something about the picture of Christine at Raynham - first she gave us some toe in Tucson.........is she now showing something else at Raynham.........New fundraising tactic for old desperate men?"
In addition to these callous statements, he has taken positions that call into question his qualifications as a member of the Arizona Racing Commission. After we released our database of state regulatory rulings last week, he said that any member of the public who submits public information requests should "become subject to Freedom of Information requests" themselves. He also said that members of the public who submit requests should be forced to "disclose how much it costs the various public agencies to comply."

This position Rory has taken on government transparency is at odds with virtually all elected officials, including Arizona Governor Jan Brewer. Earlier this year, Governor Brewer addressed this issue after a report was released on transparency in government spending, saying that "transparency and accountability go hand-in-hand." Rory was appointed by Brewer, and it's not clear whether she is aware of his desire to make it nearly impossible for citizens to submit public information requests.

Perhaps most important, however, is the bizarre position Rory has taken on the issue of reporting confidential tips of greyhound cruelty.  In October of last year, Rory said that "most law abiding citizens would report possible wrongdoing" and that "I doubt Carey or Christine would ever properly report any information they may have that might help a greyhound." He made this claim without any evidence whatsoever. Like a good part of what Rory says about GREY2K USA, it was apparently made up out of thin air.

Then last week, when we released our database of state greyhound rulings dog race supporters found several cases in which GREY2K USA did report confidential tips regarding allegations of greyhound cruelty to the authorities. Since Rory supposedly supports reporting this type of information, you would think that he would have applauded these cases. He didn't. Instead, he doubled down and -- bizarrely enough -- took the opposite position that confidential tips of greyhound cruelty should not be reported. Specifically he said:
"I know one commissioner in AZ that would be demanding an investigation into GREY2K is they pulled this crap in his state."

This might seem nonsensical or even borderline schizophrenic, until you understand where Rory is coming from. We know, because he told us on October 2, 2011:
"Keep pressing grey2k - force them into defense mode - do not allow them to play offense. Make them spend time and resources defending themselves instead of attacking the industry."
Rory doesn't care if the things he says are true or not. He says them because it is part of a cynical strategy to make greyhound advocates "spend time and resources defending themselves instead of attacking the industry." Those are his words.


In 2007, the New Hampshire State Legislature considered a bill to end greyhound racing. Rory Goree flew across the country to testify against this humane measure. After the hearing we overheard him telling lawmakers that GREY2K USA President Christine Dorchak, who was in law school at the time, was somehow affiliated with the Animal Liberation Front (ALF). The ALF is a known domestic terrorist organization that seeks the end of animal exploitation through illegal means.

As you can imagine, we were shocked by this outrageous allegation. GREY2K USA has absolutely no relationship whatsoever with this organization. We are not in contact with this organization and do not engage with it in any way.

We obtained a handout that had been given to lawmakers, and it appeared to depict a photograph of Christine on the ALF website. We later discovered that the photograph had been put on this website without our knowledge. We immediately e-mailed the general e-mail address on the site and within hours the photograph was removed. Apparently, the group had cut and paste photographs and short biographies from the website of an animal protection conference where Christine had made a presentation. The ALF had no role in this conference.

This is all very easy to prove. All one has to do is conduct web archive searches for the AR2006 conference, and you will see that the participants match the featured bios that appear on the ALF website. Although the bio page for the 2006 conference is no longer available, this page for the following year's AR2007 conference is still online. The bios on the 2007 conference website are virtually identical, word for word, to the bios on the ALF website because the ALF took these bios from the conference website in 2006. Rory has also falsely claimed that the ALF was somehow mentioned on our website, a complete fabrication that is refuted by a web archive search of the GREY2K USA website from the period in question.

Rory doesn't care about any of this. He has circulated this lie at least eleven times since 2007, and continues to spread it today. In his most recent message Rory also attacked Florida legislative candidates we have endorsed and tried to smear them with it. In addition, other members of the dog racing industry have also spread this lie, including Florida Greyhound Association lobbyist Jack Cory.


This lie is particularly sinister because it addresses such a serious issue. When political opponents use the terrorism label like a cheap trick it demeans all of us. It is Un-American.  That is why I'm hoping you will not let dog racing promoters get away with this. If you live in Florida, please support the greyhound friendly candidates we have endorsed.

Also, consider making a donation right away to support our ongoing efforts to end the cruelty of dog racing. We will not be deterred by these false claims, and our "Rory Truth Fund" will directly support our campaigns to end the cruelty of dog racing.

Together, we can send these dog race promoters a message that humane values are mainstream values. Our compassion is infinitely more powerful than their cynical lies, and in the end the greyhounds will prevail.

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

Meet GREY2K USA Board Member Eric Jackson

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.

Schroeder the Greyhound
Although GREY2K USA is primarily an advocacy organization, our mission also includes promoting and supporting greyhound adoption. Our commitment to adoption, and our love of greyhounds, is exemplified by Board Vice President Eric Jackson.

Eric and his wife Kathy adopted their first greyhound seven years ago after attending a meet and great hosted by Greyhound Companions of New Mexico (GCNM). At the event, he met a very large red and white greyhound named Schroeder. When they eventually adopted Schroeder, he came into the house and immediately put his head on the bathroom counter. It was a transition for Eric to live with such a large dog; he had grown up with cats and at the time was living with a rescued white boxer named Rose. Despite his size, however, Schroeder was a gentle giant. Although he was shy, he was especially fond of women and would come up to house guests and ask to be petted.

Sadly, Eric lost Schroeder a few months ago. But even with this loss the Jackson family now lives with four greyhounds, including a black foster greyhound named Ellie. The family also includes an elderly Pomeranian named Jake.

Eric teaches psychology at the University of New Mexico, and gives a tremendous amount of his time to volunteer for greyhound advocacy and welfare. He currently serves as the Communications Director for GCNM, and helps GREY2K USA with long-term strategic planning. His professional background also helps us understand the various rationalizations that greyhound breeders use to defend their cruel business.

Eric does a tabling event for GREY2K USA and GCNM
Eric tells me that he volunteers so much of his time because he believes that greyhounds deserve better. He is particularly appalled by the way greyhounds are kept, and would like to see an end to what he calls the "commercial warehousing" of greyhounds.

Eric acknowledges that it can be difficult to be a greyhound advocate and also work in adoption, but he says that it is worth it. He finds it very rewarding to help greyhounds.

We are very lucky to have Eric on the GREY2K USA Board of Directors. He is a tremendous asset to the organization, and a powerful voice for the greyhounds.

Thursday, July 12, 2012

GREY2K USA Announces Largest Release of Dog Racing Data in History

Dog rescued from Ronnie Williams (photo by Florida DBPR) 
Part of our mission at GREY2K USA is to thoroughly research the greyhound racing industry, and shed light on humane problems.

That is why we released today a new Database of State Greyhound Disciplinary Rulings. This database includes nearly 3,000 state rulings regarding problems in the dog racing industry. Some of these rulings are minor infractions, while other rulings are related to severe incidents of cruelty like the infamous Robert Rhodes and Ronnie Williams cases.

The rulings come from 13 states, and span more than two decades from 1990 to 2012. We received the documents by submitting hundreds of public information requests over many years.

I'm hopeful that this new database will be a resource for members of the media, lawmakers, greyhound advocates, and the general public. It is searchable, and you can download the actual records.

Finally, it's important to note that this database represents responses we received from official sources and is offered for informational purposes only. Case information in the database may or may not be complete, and may or may not include the full disposition of a particular disciplinary matter. For additional information, contact Christine Dorchak at info@grey2kusa.org.

This is the largest public release of greyhound racing data in history, and will make the industry more transparent than ever before. That is good news, and bodes well for the dogs. There is no doubt in my mind that the more people know about dog racing, the more they support efforts to protect greyhounds.

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Meet GREY2K USA Board Member Charmaine Settle

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.

Charmaine Settle and Rosebud
As GREY2K USA's mission has slowly expanded to include an international component, this charge has been led by GREY2K USA Board Member Charmaine Settle.

Charmaine has a business background, and worked at IBM for more than twenty years before retiring. She adopted her first greyhound, Rosebud, after visiting a greyhound adoption booth. Sadly, Rosebud passed away from cancer at the young age of seven. Since then, Charmaine has adopted two other greyhounds including a dog named Penelope that she rescued from a Colorado breeding farm.

There are few leaders in the greyhound advocacy community that Charmaine has not collaborated with. In recent years she has worked with Greyhound Pets of America Tallahassee, hauler Bob Messenger, Friends of Retired Greyhounds, and Almost Home for Hounds to move hundreds of greyhounds from the Florida panhandle to adoption groups across the country. Charmaine coordinated many of the logistics for these hauls, and led a fundraising push for the effort.

Charmaine has personally visited many dog tracks in the United States, including Jefferson County Kennel Club, Ebro Greyhound ParkPensacola Greyhound TrackMobile Greyhound ParkGulf Greyhound Park, Southland, Birmingham Race CourseWichita Greyhound Park and Victoryland.

It's on the international stage, however, where Charmaine has made her greatest impact. She has volunteered at the Scooby Refuge in Spain, and helped the group avert a crisis by contributing to a new sanitation system for the Refuge. Working with Scooby and the Greyhound Rescue International Network, she brought greyhounds back to the United States, and worked with the National Greyhound Adoption Program to ensure they found loving homes.

Charmaine has recently investigated dog racing in Vietnam and Macau, and her experience at the Canidrome led to the launch of the GREY2K USA Rescue Brooklyn Campaign. Later this fall, she will travel to Australia and learn about greyhound racing Down Under.

Of all her greyhound advocacy efforts, Charmaine tells me that she is most proud of her legislative work in her home state of Colorado. In 2003, she worked with GREY2K USA to help defeat a proposal that would have propped up dog racing with slot machine profits. The measure was overwhelmingly rejected by voters. In 2009 she helped defeat House Bill 1095, a legislative measure that would have reintroduced dog racing in the state. She even went to the close-out auction at Cloverleaf Greyhound Park, and personally witnessed the final end of greyhound racing in Colorado.

We are truly honored to have Charmaine on our Board of Directors. She is a true greyhound hero, and an inspiration to everyone at GREY2K USA.