NGA Executive Director Gary Guccione has released a statement responding to misinformation posted by Grey2K spokesperson Carey Theil regarding NGA’s position on the case of a Florida greyhound trainer recently dismissed from her kennel job at the Naples-Fort Myers Track.
Theil claimed that NGA publicly expressed support for Ursula O’Donnell, who was relieved of her duties last week by her kennel operator employer at the request of track officials after they learned of her alleged involvement in a 2002 felony animal cruelty case in Alabama. The charges were filed against O’Donnell, Robert Rhodes and three other individuals.
According to Theil, NGA "was contacted about this situation and told a reporter that they support Ursula and her ability to work in the industry. I find that shocking."
Guccione’s statement reads as follows:
"For Mr. Theil to say that NGA supports her activity in the sport suggests an endorsement, which is not the case. NGA, as the sport’s official registry, neither supports, promotes or endorses any specific individual, kennel, farm or entity in the sport.
"In 2003, when this case went to court, the NGA Board held a hearing for Robert Rhodes and, reciprocal to Florida’s having revoked his license and found his actions reprehensible, banned him from any activities in the sport.
"The NGA and the state of Florida awaited a final judgment on the legal cases against four other individuals, including Ursula O’Donnell, who had also been charged in the case. When Rhodes died soon thereafter and the court case was dismissed with no convictions, NGA’s legal counsel advised that we did not have legal grounds to take unilateral punitive action, especially when the individuals remained eligible for licensing in racing jurisdictions.
"Since 2002, three of the four individuals have left the sport. There have been no negative incidents involving Ms. O’Donnell since that time, and her ability to be licensed by racing states remains intact."