GREYHOUND RACING GROUPS URGE PROSECUTION OF FLORIDA KENNEL OPERATOR

Three major greyhound racing organizations have condemned the actions of a Florida kennel operator who has been charged with 37 counts of felony animal cruelty in connection with the deaths of thirty-two greyhounds at Ebro Greyhound Track in Ebro, FL. Racing industry leaders are calling for aggressive prosecution of the case.

Ron Williams, owner of the No Limits Kennel, was arrested Friday by officers of the Washington County, FL sheriff’s department, four days after representatives of Greyhound Pets of America–Emerald Coast, a regional adoption group, notified state authorities that seven greyhounds picked up from Williams’ kennel for adoption were seriously underweight and appeared neglected.

 
When state investigators visited the kennel, they found thirty-two greyhounds dead. Authorities have not determined conclusively the cause of death. Five surviving greyhounds have received veterinary care and are expected to recover.
 
The National Greyhound Association (NGA), the official registry for racing greyhounds says that, although Williams is not a member, NGA has the authority to prohibit its members from doing business with animal welfare violators. This provision will make it impossible for Williams to be involved in greyhound racing in any way.
 
“Ron Williams will never register or race another greyhound in the United States,” said NGA Executive Director Gary Guccione. “We can make that promise today.”
 
“There is absolutely no excuse for such egregious animal abuse and neglect,” said AGC President Fred Fulchino. 
“Industry organizations, tracks and adoption groups have created a safety net to ensure that retiring greyhounds receive proper care until they are placed in adoptive homes. Ron Williams knew that help was available, and he chose to ignore it. He should be prosecuted to the full extent of the law," he said.
 
Ebro Greyhound Park closed for the season on September 25. Track manager Mark Hess said that he notified Williams in mid-September that his contract to race at the track would not be renewed. “This may have been done in retaliation for that termination, but I can’t imagine it,” he said.
Hess said his office maintained communication with kennel operators after the track closed to ensure that those not leaving to race at other tracks were able to find adoptive homes for their greyhounds. 
 
Williams had assured Hess that only two dogs were left in his kennel, and was seen turning the two greyhounds out for exercise daily over the past week. Track staff did not enter the kennel building and were unaware that additional greyhounds remained inside.
 
Tim Leuschner, president of the American Greyhound Track Operators Association (AGTOA), said that greyhound welfare is a shared responsibility, and that all industry members have an obligation to take action when they believe a greyhound is at risk. 
 
“We’re going to work together—regulators, tracks, kennel operators, breeders and adoption groups—to figure out what went wrong, and how we can make sure that nothing like this ever happens again,” Leuschner said.

 

AGC WARNS IOWANS AGAINST GREY2K PROPAGANDA

The American Greyhound Council (AGC) has responded to recent online coverage of the Grey2K attack against greyhound racing in Iowa.  In letters to the Des Moines Register and Omaha.com, AGC Board Member Jim Blanchard, who also serves as Vice President of the National Greyhound Association (NGA), suggested that Iowans take Grey2K claims with "a grain of salt."

Here is the letter sent to both outlets:

 Dear Editor:

Your recent story about the coming animal rights campaign against greyhound racing should put Iowans on their guard. State residents can expect a barrage of
misinformation and negative propaganda from the radical East Coast groups behind this misguided effort.

The greyhound racing community dedicates millions of dollars each year to greyhound welfare and adoption programs. Greyhound farms are subject to unannounced inspections to verify the quality of kennel facilities and animal care. Rigorous standards for breeders and kennel operators are strictly enforced, with lifetime expulsion from the sport for serious violators.

At the track level, contracts require that  kennel operators provide proper animal care or risk the suspension of racing privileges. Track veterinarians are on hand daily to monitor greyhound health and handle injuries when they occur.

In addition to industry programs, greyhound racing is regulated by the states in which it operates. State regulators have the authority to suspend or revoke racing licenses if violations of law or racing rules occur.

It should be obvious to anyone with an ounce of common sense that greyhounds must receive proper care in order to compete at their best. If they don’t receive proper
nutrition, exercise and rest, they can’t perform on the track.

Contrary to what we hear from animal rights groups, the rate of greyhound injuries is extraordinarily low. Injuries occur in less than one-half of one percent of all racing
starts. Most of the injuries are minor, and allow the greyhound to return to racing within a matter of weeks.

Even when injured greyhounds are no longer able to race, they are wonderful candidates for placement in a loving adoptive home.

Iowans should take what they hear from animal rights extremists with a grain of salt. There is no good reason to ban a sport that supports more than 1,300 jobs, pays
millions of dollars in taxes, and takes good care of its canine athletes.

Sincerely,

Jim Blanchard, Vice President, National Greyhound Association and Member, Iowa Greyhound Association

“ADOPTION PERSON OF YEAR” NOMINATION DEADLINE APPROACHES

AGC Communications Coordinator Gary Guccione today issued a reminder that nominations for the 2010 Greyhound Adoption Person of the Year Award must be submitted by 5 pm CDT Wednesday, September 1, in order to receive consideration.

 

Any individual or organization may nominate a candidate for the award. The nominee may be a volunteer or paid individual in the U.S. or Canada.

 

The award winner and his/her guest will receive complimentary airfare and lodging to the AGC/AGTOA spring meeting, where the award is presented, as well as a $500 donation to an adoption group of the winner’s choice.

 

Submit your nomination online.

EBRO, PENSACOLA GREYHOUNDS AVAILABLE FOR ADOPTION












As many as 300 greyhounds from Ebro Greyhound Park and Pensacola Greyhound Track will become available for adoption when those tracks close for the 2010 racing season, according to Greyhound Pets of America (GPA) President Rory Goree.

 GPA has 49 chapters and sub-chapters across the nation, and close working relationships with dozens of other regional adoption groups, Goree said. It is coordinating the effort to find homes for the Ebro and Pensacola greyhounds.

The Penscacola facility will close October 31 and reopen February 4, 2011. The greyhounds there will remain at the track while awaiting adoption, Goree said.

The Ebro track will close September 25 and reopen May 10, 2011. Track officials report that most greyhounds will move to other tracks to continue racing, but about 150 will remain at the track pending adoption.

Goree said many regional adoption organizations are cooperating to ensure that all the greyhounds eligible for adoption find permanent homes.

“Greyhounds make absolutely amazing pets,” he said. “They are generally affectionate, well socialized and gentle, even with children. They don’t require any more exercise than any other dog. In fact, many greyhound owners describe their dogs as “loveable forty mile-an-hour couch potatoes.”

GPA operates a toll-free hotline for people interested in adopting a greyhound. The hotline number is 1-800-366-1472. Callers will be referred to a participating adoption organization in their area.
 

 

 

 

NGA LETTER DISPELS ANIMAL RIGHTS MISINFORMATION

The Des Moines Register has published a response from NGA leader Jim Blanchard of Iowa to a letter urging Iowans to end greyhound racing in the state. Blanchard’s letter appeared in the July 28 edition of the newspaper. 

Here is the full text of the letter.

 

Dear Editor:

The July 17 letter from Mr. Kalinak (“Will Iowa be the last state to end greyhound racing?”) contained a number of inaccurate statements about greyhound racing in Iowa. We’d like to set the record straight.

It should be obvious to anyone with an ounce of common sense that greyhounds would not be able to compete successfully at the track without adequate exercise or proper care. Greyhounds are turned out for exercise at least four times daily, which is more than sufficient to preserve their health and physical conditioning.

As anyone who has adopted a greyhound will tell you, greyhounds live to do two things: run and sleep. They are born racers, and they expend tremendous energy when they run. When they’re not running, they love to sleep, which is why greyhounds are often referred to as “40 mile per hour couch potatoes.”

Your readers should also know that injury rates in greyhound racing are extremely low, with injuries occurring in fewer than one-half of one percent of all starts. The vast majority of injuries are minor, allowing the greyhound to return to competition within a week or two.

At present, there are 24 tracks operating in seven states, including Iowa. Animal rights groups are working hard to ban greyhound racing in all of them. Many of the same groups are also working to put an end to livestock farming, hunting and fishing, biomedical research, zoos, circuses, and even the breeding of pets.

Does Iowa want to be one more state to let animal rights extremists dictate what industries will thrive and which will be banned? That’s the real question your readers should be asking.

Sincerely,

Jim Blanchard, Iowa
National Greyhound Association Board of Directors


 

KEELAN SETS RECORD STRAIGHT ON NEW HAMPSHIRE BAN

The July 18 online edition of Fosters.com, a service of New Hampshire’s Foster’s Daily Democrat, featured a letter from former AGTOA President and long-time track operator Karen Keelan. In the letter, Keelan set the record straight on the subject of the state legislature’s recent action to ban live racing.

Here is Keelan’s letter in its entirety.

Dear Editor:

I am deeply saddened by the action of the New Hampshire Legislature and our governor in banning greyhound racing from the state (July 9, "Groups applaud end of greyhound racing").

As someone whose family has been involved in this sport in New Hampshire and Massachusetts for many years, I took great pride in our race tracks. I was proud that our family-run businesses were contributing hundreds of jobs, millions of dollars in payroll and tax revenues, and great entertainment for people who loved watching greyhounds run.

I also took great pride in our greyhound adoption programs, which were among the most successful in the industry. Working with dozens of dedicated volunteers, we made sure that every retired greyhound found a loving adoptive home.

But best of all, I had a chance to work with the most amazing dogs in the world. Even when our track was losing money, I loved my job because I loved being around the greyhounds. I was raised to appreciate, respect and care for them. I still do, and I always will.

Greyhound racing in New Hampshire is history now, but state residents should not be deceived about the reasons. It wasn’t about greyhound injuries, which occur in fewer than one-half of one percent of all racing starts. It wasn’t about greyhound care at the track, which must be first-rate in order for greyhounds to race at their best.

The decision to ban greyhound racing was about economics, pure and simple. In recent years, gambling competition has greatly increased. Greyhound racing has found it difficult to keep up with the explosion in high-tech casino gaming and online wagering. This made us easy targets for animal rights extremists looking to ban greyhound racing completely.

Animal rights groups won’t stop there, however. New Hampshire dairy, egg and meat producers will be next on their hit list. I hope the farm community fares better than we did.

 

Sincerely,

 

Karen Keelan

Mashpee, CT

 

NOMINATIONS OPEN FOR 2010 ADOPTION PERSON OF YEAR AWARD

The American Greyhound Council (AGC) is now accepting nominations for the 2010 Adoption Person of the Year Award. The award was established in 2007 by the American Greyhound Track Operators Association (AGTOA) to recognize individuals who have made exceptional contributions to greyhound adoption. 

The AGC, which funds and oversees adoption grants and other greyhound welfare programs for greyhound racing, is proud to take the lead in recognizing the dedicated volunteers who give so generously of their time, money, energy and passion to ensure that every adoptable greyhound finds a forever home upon retirement.

Any individual or organization may nominate a candidate for the Greyhound Adoption Person of the Year award. The nominee may be a volunteer or paid individual in the U.S. or Canada.

The winner and his/her guest receive complimentary airfare and lodging to the AGC/AGTOA spring meeting, where the award is presented, and also receive a $500 donation for the adoption group specified by the winner.

The deadline for submitting a nomination is Wednesday, September 1, 2010. Nominations may be submitted online or via email.

NATIONAL ADS EXPOSE HSUS FAILURE TO FUND ANIMAL SHELTERS

A national non-profit watchdog organization has published full-page ads in two major national newspapers blasting the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) for giving less than one percent of its annual donations to animal shelters.

The Center for Consumer Freedom (CCF), an organization of consumers, businesses and foundations, ran the ads May 17 in the New York Times and the Washington DC edition of the Wall Street Journal.

A recent poll by the Opinion Research Corporation found that 59 percent of Americans wrongly believe the HSUS contributes most of its money to local animal shelters.

However, according to 2008 records, the organization actually contributed less than one half of one percent to such groups.

CCF Research Director David Martosko said that makes HSUS "a humane society in name only." 

"The Humane Society of the United States raises tens of millions of dollars annually from Americans who believe their donations filter down to local pet shelters, directly improving the lives of dogs and cats," Martosko said.

"But instead, their donations support a huge staff of lawyers and lobbyists, bloated executive pension plans, exorbitant fundraising expenses, and PETA-style propaganda campaigns. Animal lovers should
start holding the group to a higher standard."

The ad reads, "Surprised to learn that the Humane Society of the United States shares less than one percent of your donations with local pet shelters?  The HSUS is NOT your local animal shelter.  Don’t be fooled. Go to www.humanewatch.org."

HSUS is the primary funding source for the national Grey2K campaign against greyhound racing. American Greyhound Council (AGC) Communications Coordinator Gary Guccione said, "We’re not surprised by this information. If HSUS was really an animal welfare organization, it would be working constructively with us on greyhound adoption instead of spending hundreds of thousands of dollars on lobbying, playing politics and deceiving the public."

FGA LEADER RAPS GREY2K IN LETTER TO FLORIDA PAPERS

In an April 29 letter to the editors of the Miami Herald and the Palm Beach Post, Florida Greyhound Association President Phil Ruotolo told readers to take Grey2K’s comments "with a grain of salt."

The letter was in response to an April 27 story that ran in both newspapers. The story contained positive information on greyhound adoption, but quoted Grey2K "estimates" on the number of greyhounds euthanized annually. It identified Grey2K as a "national rescue network."

"Grey2K USA is not a national rescue network," wrote Ruotolo. "It is an animal rights organization whose mission is to abolish greyhound racing completely."

"Grey2K has no direct involvement in greyhound adoption," Ruotolo explained. "In fact, Grey2K leaders have urged their supporters not to get involved in any adoption group that has a constructive working relationship with the greyhound racing industry."

As evidence, Ruotolo provided editors with a copy of a New Hampshire animal rights newsletter quoting an email from Grey2K President Christine Dorchak in which she urged her followers not to work with Greyhound Pets of America, the nation’s largest independent adoption group.

"Grey2K relies on promoting misinformation about greyhound racing to justify its existence and raise funds," Ruotolo concluded. "That’s why people should take their comments with a grain of salt."

 

EXPERTS GATHER FOR ANNUAL GREYHOUND SAFETY SEMINAR

About 35 track surface technicians, veterinarians and racing commission representatives gathered at Gulf Greyhound Park near Houston February 22-23 for the 6th annual Greyhound Safety and Track Surface Seminar. 

The event was sponsored by the American Greyhound Track Operations Association (AGTOA), Texas Greyhound Association (TGA), and Gulf Greyhound Park.

Organizer Diane Whiteley, TGA executive director, said the seminar offered participants the opportunity to learn about new methods for enhancing track safety and reducing greyhound injuries.
 
“Keeping our greyhounds safe and sound is  our highest priority,” Whiteley said. “Every year, the experts find better ways of resurfacing and maintaining tracks to enhance greyhound safety.”
 
The program included presentations by track surface specialist Gene Magliaro of the Palm Beach Kennel Club; Marty Tanner, DVM & president of the National Greyhound Association; David Peck, member of the NGA track committee; Kip Keefer, chairman of the Racing Commissioners International (RCI) greyhound committtee; Richard Ferranti, maintenance manager and greenpath coordinator at Daytona Beach Kennel Club; and Marsha Kelly, communications consultant to AGTOA and the American Greyhound Council (AGC).
 
The presenters shared information on track design modifications, resurfacing materials and procedures, and ways to identify possible track trouble spots from analyzing injury data.
 
Although serious injuries are rare in greyhound racing, occurring in less than one-half of one percent of each 1,000 starts, industry experts believe that the new methods and procedures could reduce injuries even further.