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Tag: greyhounds

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.

Greyhound racing is done in Wisconsin

Greyhound racing is nearing the finish line in Wisconsin.

Dairyland Greyhound Park, in Kenosha — the last operating track in the state –  announced Tuesday it will close its doors after racing ends Dec. 31.

Dairyland was one of five Wisconsin tracks that opened after a 1987 amendment to the state constitution allowed for a state-run lottery and legalized parimutuel betting. The others closed earlier, unable to compete with the state’s tribal casino offerings that began to emerge in the 1990s.

According to the Kenosha News, the 19-year-old track has lost $17 million over the last seven years.

Dairyland has remained in operation in recent years with the hope that the Menominee Nation wins federal and state approval to develop a $1 billion casino complex on the site. The tribe is now in litigation to overturn a January denial of the project.

Closing the track will put about 180 people out of work, and, track officials say, leave the 900 dogs that race at the facility in need of homes.

If you’re interest in adopting, here’s how to find a greyhound rescue near you.

Greyhound racing’s toll in Texas

greydogTwenty greyhounds died or were euthanized after races in Texas last year, according to records obtained by GREY2K USA, a Massachusetts-based group seeking to end dog racing nationally.

The 20 were among more than 310 that had minor-to-major injuries.

Christine Dorchak, president and general counsel of  Grey2K, said the figures from the Texas Racing Commission show the need to halt an industry in which dead and injured dogs are considered “a cost of doing business.”

Breeders and track proponents say the injuries and deaths represent just a tiny percentage, when compared to the tens of thousands of times dogs collectively race around tracks. Nearly two-thirds of 2008 injuries were rated as minor, according to the commission.

“For us, that’s like saying no dogs should be athletic,” Diane Whiteley, a breeder and executive director of the Texas Greyhound Association, told the Houston Chronicle. “Anybody that’s ever had a greyhound that’s been injured feels awful about that. They’re like your kids.”

Gulf Greyhound Park in La Marque, the only Texas track that currently has live dog racing, accounted for most of the 2008 injuries with its year-round racing schedule. Valley Race Park in Harlingen raced part of last year and since has taken a break in live racing.

(Photo by Denise McFadden, courtesy of Grey2kusa.org)

Six greyhounds perish at Wisconsin track

Six racing greyhounds have died since August at the Dairyland Greyhound Track in Kenosha, Wisconsin, including two last weekend.

Two state agencies — the state Division of Gaming and the state Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection — are investigating, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.

Four of the six dogs bled to death, according to state records.  A food-borne illness is one possibility investigator are looking at.

The state probe comes as Dairyland officials weigh whether to close the track for good. The track lost $3.4 million last year, and has seen attendance drop 19% so far this year.

Dog flu vaccine approved for marketing

A flu vaccine for dogs has received a conditional license from the U.S. Department of Agriculture.

Intervet/Schering-Plough Animal Health said this week its canine influenza vaccine is the first approved to protect dogs from the contagious respiratory illness known as the H3N8 flu virus, which was first recognized in 2004 after an outbreak among Florida greyhounds.

Since then, it has continued to spread and has now been detected in dogs in 30 states and the District of Columbia, according to a company press release.

The disease does not affect people, but can be passed among dogs or from a human carrier to a dog .

Dogs have no natural immunity to the virus, which is related to an equine flu strain. The most common symptoms are a cough, high fever and nasal discharge. Most cases are mild, but a severe illness can lead to pneumonia and become fatal.

Greyhound groups racing to find homes

Between the shaky economy and track closings, greyhound rescue organizations are hard-pressed to find enough homes for the growing number of dogs exiting the racing industry.

The weakened economy has led some prospective owners to back out of their adoption plans, and led some who have adopted greyhounds to return them.

“There have been a lot of stress-related returns with people losing their houses or their jobs and more adoption groups are reporting new adoptions are down,” said Michael McCann, president of The Greyhound Project Inc., a Boston-based nonprofit that provides support and information to greyhound adoption organizations and the public.

McCann blamed the economy primarily, but the Massachusetts ban on greyhound racing — voters approved a referendum that will lead to the closing of two tracks there by Jan. 1, 2010 — is a big factor, too.

“With some tracks having several hundred dogs, they have to go somewhere,” McCann said. “Some of them can go to other tracks, but many of them are ending up needing to be adopted.”

Many of the estimated 300 adoption groups nationwide are seeing increases in returns of adopted greyhounds and declines in new adoptions, according to an Associated Press report.

The problem is compounded by more racetracks closing — at least seasonally — in the face of increased competition from casino gambling and the general economic slowdown, McCann said.

McCann said the problem is not confined to the continental United States. The recent closure of a racetrack in Guam left about 150 dogs needing homes, and animal rescue officials have been contacting U.S. groups for help.

“They may have to be destroyed if there is no place else to go,” McCann said.

Greyhound Rescue, Inc. places greyhounds in Maryland, Delaware, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Virginia and Washington D.C.

Other greyhound rescue groups include the Greyhound Project Inc,Triangle Greyhound Society, Queen City Greyhounds, or Greyhound Friends Inc.

(Photo: Courtesy of Greyhound Rescue, Inc.)

Mass. hysteria: Greyhound racing vote nears

In addition to helping pick the next president, Massachusetts voters tomorrow will be deciding the future of greyhound racing in the state.

Voters will weigh in on a hotly debated ballot measure that, if approved, would make Massachusetts the eighth state to ban live greyhound racing. (Idaho, Maine, North Carolina, Nevada, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington are the others.)

The Boston Globe reported Saturday, in a story that oozed objectivity, that conditions in which greyhounds live — a key factor in the argument to ban the sport — are, well, in the eye of the beholder …

“To one eye, the dogs look cheerful and comfortable. To another, the place might seem like a warehouse. One greyhound appears to stoop his head to fit in the cage; the others seem to have plenty of room to spare.

“The kennel’s owners welcomed a reporter, but no photographer, fearing how the cages might appear in pictures…”

I’m guessing that the cages might appear as they actually are — cameras being devices that record reality and all.

Supporters of the ban say greyhounds spent at least 20 hours a day in their cages.

The Globe article points out that “Like every assertion made in the debate over the ballot question, that contention is feverishly disputed by the other side. Trainers say their dogs get plenty of time outside, though they do have a hard time putting a number to it.”

Backers of the ballot measure believe greyhound racing constitutes animal abuse because of the industry’s excessive breeding practices, the cruel methods by which unwanted dogs are destroyed, the conditions in which many are forced to live and the number of injuries racing leads to.

The Humane Society of the United States believes no amount of reform could make the industry acceptable.

“The racing industry is inherently cruel. Greyhound racing is a form of gaming in which the amount of money a dog generates determines his or her expendability,” it says. “The answer for greyhounds is neither regulation nor adoption of “retired” dogs, but the elimination of the greyhound racing industry.”

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