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Tag: greyhounds

Another greyhound track bites the dust

mgp

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.

The fading future of greyhound racing

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Fifteen years ago, more than 400 people attended the national convention of the American Greyhound Track Owners Association.

This year’s convention, in Las Vegas, is expected to draw 120, the Las Vegas Sun reports — yet another sign that greyhound racing’s days are numbered.

More than half of the nation’s greyhound tracks have closed for lack of business in the past three decades, four in just the past year. 

The recession, competition from casinos, state legislatures increasing gambling taxes and public opposition to the sport have combined to threaten the future of dog racing, but the industry’s downfall can be traced to the 1980s and 1990s when state lotteries were introduced and casinos began to spread beyond Las Vegas and Atlantic City. Wagering on greyhound races in the United States declined from $3.5 billion in 1991 to $1.1 billion in 2007, according to the Association of Racing Commissioners.

The continued decline in dog racing has become even more painful for casino owners who are required to subsidize the tracks as a condition of operating casinos with slot machines.

As Roy Berger, executive vice president of the Dairyland Greyhound Park in Wisconsin, which closed last year, put it: “The product became an antique. We were an 8-track cassette store in a world of CDs.”

(Photo: American Greyhound Track Owners Association)

Last lap for greyhound racing in New England

More than 3,000 people poured into Raynham Park over the weekend for the final day of live greyhound racing at the 69-year-old park, its last day in Massachusetts and, possibly, its last day in all of New England.

The end of greyhound racing in in Massachusetts is the result of a public referendum — 56 percent of voters favored banning the so-called sport —  and part of a national trend driven by a mix of animal-rights concerns and declining track attendance, according to the Boston Globe.

Raynham Park staged its final race Saturday night.

Live dog racing has also ceased in Maine, New Hampshire, Connecticut, and, temporarily at least, Rhode Island. It continues at 23 tracks in seven states, 13 of them in Florida, according to the anti-dog racing organization GREY2K USA, which formed in 2001. At that time there were 49 tracks in 15 states.

“I just thank Massachusetts voters for giving greyhounds a second chance,’’ Christine A. Dorchak, president of GREY2K USA. “We have finally reached this wonderful day.’’

Many of the dogs, maintained by a network of kennels, will move on to race in other states, but several hundred will be looking for new homes. Raynham is working with GREY2K and the Massachusetts Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals-Angell Animal Medical Center to aid their adoption.

“People who voted to end dog racing should step forward now and take a dog home,’’ Dorchak said. “This is the happy ending we all worked for, and these dogs make wonderful pets.’’

For the first six months of 2010, the track will remain open for simulcasting, where patrons bet on horse and dog races from across the country shown live on closed-circuit televisions.

Hundreds of greyhounds soon to need homes

greyhoundaaGreyhound rescuers in Wisconsin are preparing to find homes for hundreds of racing dogs that will lose their jobs when Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha, the last of Wisconsin’s five greyhound racing tracks, closes at the end of the year.

Pat Zimmerman of Fond du Lac, a member of Heart Bound Greyhound Adoption, estimated between 300 and 900 dogs will need to find homes. The group will be taking many of the dogs into foster homes to prepare them for adoption, according to the Post Crescent in Appleton.

Zimmerman said  that some of the racing greyhounds will go home with their owners, others will be relocated to out-of-state racetracks, and a third group will go back to racing farms to be bred.

Meanwhile, the newspaper reported, the state chapter of Greyhound Pets of America is trying to quell a rumor being circulated through email and Facebook claiming 900 greyhounds could be killed if they’re not adopted soon.

In addition to the closing in Wisconsin, hundreds more greyhounds will be in need of homes in connection with the closing at the end of this year of Phoenix Greyhound Park, one of three remaining dog tracks in Arizona.

For a list of links to greyhound adoption websites, visit Grey2kusa.