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Tag: greyhounds

Former racing greyhounds to find adoptive homes after Texas blood bank shuts down

petaphoto

That Texas operation that held retired racing greyhounds in captivity to regularly harvest and sell their blood is shutting down.

PETA exposed neglectful conditions at the blood farm this fall and has been campaigning hard for its closure — going so far as to put up billboards, engage in protests and even buy a share of stock in the company it sold blood to.

The Pet Blood Bank, located northwest of Austin, is one of several commercial blood banks in the United States with an in-house “colony” of dogs used to supply blood for veterinary treatments, according to the Washington Post blog Animalia.

An attorney for the blood bank said in a statement Thursday that the closing was a “business decision” made because the PETA campaign had “caused our long-standing customer relationships to be terminated.”

The National Greyhound Association and other dog-racing advocacy organizations said they were working with regional greyhound adoption groups and the Pet Blood Bank to place all of the 150 greyhounds now housed there up for adoption.

“We’re confident that every greyhound at the blood bank will be on its way to a loving new home within the next few days,” said Jim Gartland, the association’s executive director.”

Last month, PETA obtained photos and videos from a former company employee showing dogs confined in squalid quarters and, in some cases, left to suffer from painful injuries and dental disease.

The blood bank’s owner, Shane Altizer, denied the allegations.

PETA aimed its campaign primarily at Patterson Veterinary, the Minnesota-based company that the blood bank was a provider for. It held protests at the company headquarters and the home of the CEO of its parent group. It bought billboards, and one share of stock in Patterson Companies “to put pressure on the billion-dollar enterprise.”

Operations like the Pet Blood Bank sell their products to veterinary clinics or supply companies, and greyhounds — because members of the breed often have a universal blood type — are commonly used as donors.

The banks are not regulated by the federal government, and California is the only state that regulates them.

In a statement on Thursday, President Ingrid Newkirk said PETA would “work hard to get regulations passed to ensure all blood for emergency transfusions comes from real donors and not from imprisoned, miserable dogs.”

(Photo: PETA)

Getting every last drop from greyhounds

As if racing their hearts out weren’t enough, some greyhounds are retired to dog blood banks where they live caged all day long, except for outings to get their blood drawn.

PETA last month exposed one such kennel, The Pet Blood Bank, Inc., in Cherokee, Texas, which houses about 150 retired greyhounds — solely for the purpose of extracting and selling their blood and blood products.

The products, PETA reported, are distributed by Patterson Veterinary Supply, Inc., which did about $3 billion worth of business in 2016.

After the the PETA expose and a story in The Washington Post, Patterson Veterinary Supply announced it would take steps to correct the horrible conditions they described.

bloodbankBut PETA says no steps have been taken, even after they had Paul McCartney send a plea to the company.

Patterson Veterinary Supply initially announced it would terminate business with the The Pet Blood Bank, Inc.

It also promised to support “efforts to ensure that the animals receive appropriate care.” Bu PETA says it has seen no evidence of any such efforts.

The whistle-blower was Bill Larsen, 60, a former employee of the blood bank who went back to work there and was horrified by how conditions had deteriorated.

Larsen, who took the incriminating photos, said he unsuccessfully sought help from local animal shelters and a state agency before contacting PETA. “I just like dogs,” he said, and “hate for any animal to get treated like that.”

The photos show kenneled dogs with open wounds, rotting teeth and toenails curling into their paw pads.

The blood bank was founded in 2004 by Austin entrepreneur Mark Ziller, who said he initially sought volunteers and used a bloodmobile. When that did not turn up enough dogs, the company began using retired greyhounds housed in a kennel on a private farm northwest of Austin, the Post reported.

Ziller said he sold the company in November 2015 to Shane Altizer, whose family owns the farm in Cherokee.

“The Pet Blood Bank had a noble mission: It provided blood for veterinarians to use in lifesaving transfusions,” Ziller tod the Post. After viewing the photos PETA obtained, he added, “To see the animals in that state is beyond depressing.”

Altizer did not deny that the images were taken there, but said they predated his 2015 purchase of the company or were “moment snapshots” unrepresentative of overall conditions now.

Blood banks help save thousands of animals a year, but they are also profit-driven and unregulated.

With more medical procedures being used by vets, transfusions are more often required, and animal blood banks struggle to meet the demand. Only one state, California, regulates such operations and requires annual inspections.

bloodbank2Greyhounds are considered especially desirable as donors because they typically have a universal blood type and have big neck veins that make drawing blood easy.

Veterinarian Anne Hale, former CEO of the nation’s first and largest commercial animal blood bank, said she visited the Pet Blood Bank this summer and was “pleasantly surprised” with conditions there. After viewing the PETA photos and video though, she said, “It appears that the facility was ‘cleaned up’ before our touring … I agree that this facility should be addressed. This certainly suggests that regional, state and/or federal regulation is warranted.”

Former Beatle McCartney, who wrote a letter on PETA’s behalf, wants to see all the dogs removed from the facility.

“I have had dogs since I was a boy and loved them all dearly, including Martha who was my companion for about 15 years and about whom I wrote the song ‘Martha, My Dear,'” McCartney wrote. “I join my friends at PETA in asking you to pay these greyhounds back, and to let them retire from the dirt-floored, barren conditions in which they are kept isolated and alone.”

(Photos and video from PETA)

For retired racing greyhounds prison can be the path to adoption

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Prisons and greyhound tracks are, in many ways, pretty similar beasts and, whether you’re a person or a dog, you don’t want to spend too much time in the belly of either.

Both can be cold and institutional. Both require spending a lot of time caged. In one, you are encouraged to run; in the other, that’s not advisable. Whether you’re a greyhound living at a track or a human serving a prison sentence, your liberties are taken away, you do what you are told to do, and day to day life can be bleak.

Going from living at a greyhound track to living in a prison may not seem a step in the right direction, but for hundreds of greyhounds it has been.

For retired racing dogs, prisons are increasingly coming to symbolize, of all things, freedom.

Thanks to groups like Prison Greyhounds, featured in an article in this week’s Ft. Wayne News-Sentinel, racing dogs deemed to have lost their edge on the track, are learning the manners and behaviors they need to be successfully adopted.

prisongreyhoundsHeadquartered in Indianapolis, Prison Greyhounds is an all-volunteer organization that accepts dogs retired from Daytona Beach Racing and Card Club and places them with specially selected inmates at the Putnamville Correctional Facility in Greencastle, Indiana.

The dogs spend two months being trained and sleep in crates next to their assigned inmate’s bunk.

As with other prison programs that work with shelter dogs, the greyhound program — one of a handful across the country — provides benefits to the prisoners, and the prisons, as well.

The inmate handlers, who have been coached on dog training, gain job skills. And the presence of the dogs provides a calming effect on the entire prison population.

A team of two inmate-handlers is assigned to each dog. Prison Greyhounds covers the costs of veterinary care, bedding, leashes and other supplies.

Once the dogs graduate they’re ready for adoption, for a fee of $275.

(Photos from PrisonGreyhounds.org)

Another greyhound track bites the dust

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Alabama will be down to its last greyhound track when live dog races come to an end at Mobile Greyhound Park later this month.

Dog races at the park will cease Aug. 16 due to declining public interest in the “sport,” Wind Creek Hospitality announced Monday.

That will leave Birmingham Race Course as the only track in Alabama with live greyhound racing.

Alabama is one of just six states where greyhound racing remains legal and operational. Forty states have declared it illegal, according to Grey2K USA.

Since 1973, Mobile Greyhound Park has offered live dog racing, but revenues from betting have declined steadily since 1987.

In 2009, PCI Gaming Authority — an enterprise of the Poarch Band of Creek Indians — purchased controlling interest of the track for a reported $10 million. They had hoped to diversify their funding streams, but state laws prohibited other forms of gaming at the track.

According to PCI, about 30 employees will be affected by the end of live dog racing. The company has offered to “assist each team member with locating and applying for opportunities at other Wind Creek Hospitality facilities …”

In a statement, it said it will also assist kennel owners with the relocation, adoption and ongoing care of about 400 greyhounds who still “provide service” at the track.

Those at the peak of their racing careers will probably move on to other tracks, while the majority will be put up for adoption.

Inquiries about adopting a greyhound from the track can be emailed Darla Dean, the president of Alabama Sighthound Adoptions in Mobile, at ALsighthounds@gmail.com. The fee to adopt is $225.

Trainer’s license revoked after racing greyhounds test positive for cocaine

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A well-known trainer in Florida has had his license pulled after five of his racing greyhounds tested positive for cocaine.

Malcolm McAllister, a 40-year veteran of the dog-racing circuit who has been called “a wonderful patiarch of the industry,” had his license revoked by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation on April 26.

The 70-year-old trainer at Derby Lane issued a written statement denying any knowledge of how the drugs wound up in the five dogs, underlining the last four words: “It was not me.”

He does not plan to dispute the findings and has waived his right to a hearing.

The Tampa Bay Times reported last week on the findings of an investigation by the Division of Pari-Mutuel Racing.

A sample collected from Flying Tidalwave on Jan. 11 later tested positive for cocaine and benzolecgonine, a compound created when cocaine is metabolized by the liver. A week later, a sample collected from P Kay Sweetmissy would later test positive for benzolecgonine and ecgonine ethyl ester, another cocaine metabolite, records show. Three days later, on Jan. 21, samples collected from four dogs — Kiowa Wellington, Roc A By Sevenup, Flying Microsoft, and another from Flying Tidalwave — would later test positive for cocaine metabolites.

mcallisterAll the dogs were from the kennels of McAllister, and he was listed as official trainer.

In a written statement included in the case file, McAllister expressed “great sadness and disbelief” and denied any knowledge of how the drugs wound up in the dogs’ systems.

Although he was listed as the trainer, he said he was in the process of hiring a new trainer for the kennel and had four “helpers” working for him when the incidents took place

“One of these undesirables had to have either dropped or administered the cocaine,” he wrote.

Greyhound racing is illegal in forty states, and four more have closed tracks and ceased live racing. Only six states still allow pari-mutuel dog racing. They are Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Texas, Iowa and West Virginia.

Racing greyhounds routinely receive random drug tests, and finding drugs in their systems is not unheard of. But so many positive tests over a short time span at one kennel at a single track marked a first, said Carey Theil, executive director of GREY2K USA, a nonprofit industry watchdog group that seeks to ban racing entirely.

“I’m not sure which is worse, that these were attempts to fix races or that individuals who are responsible for the dogs are doing cocaine,” Theil said. “Both of those are very grave scenarios and raise serious questions about the welfare of the dogs and the integrity of the races at Derby Lane.”

Theil said officials should investigate further to find out how the drugs got into the dogs’ systems.

McAllister began his career in 1980 in Phoenix. He and his wife Barbara, who died in 2014, came to Florida’s Derby Lane in 2005 and dominated for years. During his time at Derby Lane, McAllister has racked up more than 5,400 wins and more than $900,000 in stakes prize money, the Times reported.

Derby Lane issued a statement Friday, saying “Derby Lane promotes responsible racing and provides individual kennel facilities for each greyhound operation contracted to race in St. Petersburg … In a perfect world, there would be no need for rules, but those that don’t comply are dealt with and are not welcome to race at Derby Lane…

“For fans that celebrate the greyhound breed that truly is ‘born to run’ our track will continue to offer responsible racing despite efforts from animal extremists that champion not only the end of the sport, but the end of pet ownership as well.”

(Photos: Derby Lane, and McAllister, from Tampa Bay Times)

Dog racing in Arizona is a thing of the past

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Seventy-two years after it opened, Tucson Greyhound Park saw its final dog race Saturday night.

The track’s popularity had been declining for decades, but it wasn’t until Arizona’s legislature passed a bill earlier this year ending dog racing that its demise was sealed.

The park had been struggling since casinos opened in Arizona, offering gamblers a faster form of gratification.

“It’s no mystery,” said Michael Racy, a spokesman and lobbyist for the track for over 20 years. “As more casinos have opened, it’s gotten tougher and tougher.”

Phoenix closed its greyhound track more than seven years ago.

The owners of Tucson Greyhound Park, Joseph Zappala and Philip Robert Consolo Jr. of Florida, are still evaluating what to do with the property, Racy told the Arizona Daily Star.

The 60-acre facility will remain open for now, offering simulcast racing.

Even before the bill was passed, dogs began leaving the facility, most of them going to rescues.

Southern Arizona Greyhound Adoption has taken in about 50 dogs since April, and Arizona Greyhound Rescue has taken in about 20.

Greyhound racing remains legal in five states.

(Photo: Mike Christy / Arizona Daily Star)

22 greyhound deaths probed at Florida track

The owner and operator of a kennel at the Pensacola Greyhound Track neglected 22 dogs to the point that she had to have them euthanized, investigators in Florida say.

The State Department of Business and Professional Regulation initiated an investigation into Billie Ard, the owner of W.R. Etheredge Kennel at the track, after a tipster from a Florida greyhound rescue group reported animals had been neglected and euthanized.

Investigators said they found evidence that Ard’s greyhounds had been underfed, and kept in unsanitary conditions, TV station WEAR in Florida reported.

“Upon entering the kennel it was apparent from the overwhelming urine smell… that the bedding materials in the crates had not been cleaned in quite some time. The smell was so strong and overwhelming that it burned the eyes,” investigators reported. They noted that the dogs also appeared to be underfed.

In August of 2009, a local veterinarian euthanized 22 of the dogs.

“This severe case of animal neglect calls into question the ability of track management to monitor the health and welfare of dogs at their facility,” said Carey Theil of Grey2k USA, a national greyhound protection group.

Ard lost her license as a result of investigation, but does not face any criminal charges.

All of the dogs that were in Ard’s care at the time of the investigation have since been placed with other kennels or adopted out.