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.