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Joyce Godwin Grubbs - CableMuse.com

Hoax May Save Lives

By Joyce Godwin Grubbs

December 6, 2009 – Kenosha, WI (Cable Muse Network) – Dairyland Greyhound Park in Kenosha, Wisconsin was the victim of a viral email that caused outrage among greyhound supporters. The greyhound track reached out to the media to blitz the truth, so have animal protection advocates. This is an exclusive look into the Greyhound Racing industry from different angles.   

The bogus email hoax below traveled at warp speed through the internet. Facebook Post:

"Dairyland Greyhound Racetrack in Kenosha, Wisconsin will be closing on December 31, 2009. 900 Greyhounds need to be adopted or they will be euthanized. Please help me get the word out; there is only 6 weeks to get this task done. Contact Joanne Kehoe Operations Director Phone…” (Editor’s Note: Joanne Kehoe’s contact phone, advertisement, and Facebook information withheld because of misrepresentation of her name, position and facts).

Bill Apgar, General Manager and Vice President of Operations at Dairyland, responded immediately to Cable Muse Network’s inquires regarding greyhounds at their track. “The last two weeks have been crucial in trying to put this viral email to rest. The good news is, now people are aware of a great need and we have more adoption applications than usual; and supportive greyhound shelters have contacted us to say the interest and applications are up for them as well”.

Apgar was quick to clarify that Ms. Kehoe is not and never has been in a position at the track. The phone number to reach Ms. Kehoe’s telephone number went directly to voicemail. No return call was made back to inquiries from Cable Muse Network.

William Apgar pointed out, “We don’t even have 900 greyhounds at the track. Usually 600-750. We won’t even know the number of greyhounds available for adoption until December 31, after the last race. The only thing that was true in the entire email was that we are closing ‘our season’ December, 31”.

Greyhound (Denise McFadden) CableMuse.com
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Dairyland Greyhound Park maintains an ‘in house’ adoption center for greyhounds from the track, and has staff assigned to place them through applications. This has been a long-standing practice and the adoption program has received positive recognition in various publications including ‘Dog Fancy’. Christine A. Dorchak, Esq. President of GREY2K USA encourages prospective adopters to contact independent greyhound adoption groups as well, and provides a state-by-state listing on her organizational web site.  “Hundreds of anti-racing rescue groups have formed that not only place dogs, but also to speak the truth about this cruel industry.  We all look forward to the day when Greyhounds are just like other dogs, living in happy homes and no longer forced to run for their lives”.

Desiree Acholla, Animals in Entertainment Specialist for PETA, told Cable Muse Network, “Dogs who have been raised for racing are unsocialized and tend to be skittish. These traumatized dogs have never shared the company of a family or engaged in typical social interactions. Greyhounds are "retired" from racing because of illness, injury, or disease.” Greyhounds are also retired when they do not win and are slow or become disengaged from their racing. They are often young and healthy and excellent candidates for adoption. Desiree said, “When there are already 6-8 million animals each year in shelters in need of loving guardians, to put it simply, it's impossible to find homes for them all”.

Story of Love: This Weekend on CableMuse.com
Greyhound Check-In 12-05-09 (CableMuse.com)
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Sue Hamma, Co-Chairman of Adoptions representing the Quad City Greyhound Adoptions in Iowa made note of the following: The goal of Greyhound shelters and adoption groups is to screen and test retired racers before adoption and identify social challenges. They are designated “small animal friendly (or not) and more sedentary homes are sought for “senior” greyhounds. Every opportunity is taken to allow them to interact with children and families to assess their comfort level. While no “greyhound lovers” who adopt want the greyhounds to be subjected to the isolative life of the crate, we appreciate a reciprocal relationship with area tracks who loan us their greyhound transports to facilitate our relocation efforts. We also develop  relationships with breeders so they will choose donation of unwanted greyhounds to our adoption center. Greyhounds are exceptional family and home animals.

Greyhounds (Dana Chalberg) CableMuse.com
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In a Friday afternoon email debate with Cable Muse, Desiree Acholla of PETA, and Christine A. Dorchak, Esq. of GREY2K USA discussed greyhound adoptions and the industry machines behind it. Christine clarified, “We do not find the task of adopting ex-racers insurmountable.  In fact, a track's closure is the best possible thing that can happen to a greyhound and this is the kind of year we advocates have been working towards!  Three tracks will close in one day, a record event!” In response Desiree agreed and added, “PETA doesn’t buy any excuse for breeding racing dogs when there are so many dogs who need homes. There are tireless people working day and night to find good families for these sweet dogs when tracks refuse to pay a dime for much needed treatment and housing. Overall, there is no reason to breed more dogs and recent track closures mean that even fewer dogs are being bred to pound the tracks and subsequently suffer cruel fates”.

When Mr. Apgar of Dairyland Park was asked by CableMuse.com if he had spoken with the person whose name is on the viral email as the sender he responded, “I personally have not spoken to her, but I heard she denies it was her email. She believes someone copied and pasted her name and phone number onto the message”.

Greyhound (Denise McFadden) CableMuse.com
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The viral email did bring the attention of greyhound lovers to check states’ laws concerning the “disposal and/or euthanasia” and practices for greyhound race tracks. Not all states have laws to protect the dogs. The tracks cannot always control what happens after race dogs leave and are returned to their owners. Some dogs are euthanized by the owners and they often choose alternative methods rather than paying a veterinarian fee. Desiree of PETA was blunt in her response, “Those who breeders believe will be too slow to win races are killed. Dogs have been shot, bludgeoned, or simply dumped to fend for themselves. Dogs who survive the initial cull are on borrowed time: Their very lives are secure only as long as their stamina holds. When too old, injured, or tired to continue to race, these dogs are often discarded like garbage”.

Dairyland’s in-house adoption procedure includes being spayed or neutered before being placed. The animals are brought up to date with vaccines and shots as needed and undergo an examination by a licensed veterinarian.

One fact is undeniable as a result of the viral email, track owners everywhere are under scrutiny. Lawmakers who see opening more race tracks as a way to cure their “economic blues” are being watched to see strict protections are in place. If you don’t believe it, just ask Bill Apgar of the Dairyland Greyhound Park. Bill will tell you about his bad month and all the calls from concerned greyhound fanciers and the media. If only dogs could talk.

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Christine A. Dorchak, Esq. said, “I am working directly with Raynham Park and like all tracks that have closed these past years, and there is a concerted effort by management to do the right thing for the dogs.  This may motivated by adversity to (more) bad publicity, or it may be because there is recognition that at least some dogs deserve to be helped after years of exploitation by this industry -- but in any case, the result is the same.  Hundreds of dogs find Forever Homes, and that is what we are focused on at Phoenix, Raynham and Dairyland Parks”. The Phoenix, Raynham and Dairyland racetracks are all closing at the end of this month.

Meanwhile, the campaign to end dog racing nationwide continues.  “When GREY2K USA was formed in 2001, there were 46 tracks in 15 states.  We have cut that number virtually in half, to 23 tracks in 8 states.  New legislation has been drafted for filing in three more states in 2010.  We will not rest until dog racing ends everywhere, the farms are closed down and the kennels locked up for good,” said Christine.

Ben Cable, Cable Muse Network Editor in Phoenix, AZ contributed to this article.

Related Stories:

Greyhounds traveled miles to find their forever homes: The Phoenix Seven

Related Links to great people and wonderful animals waiting for you to contact them:

Greyhound Companions of New Mexico

Grey2K USA

Greyhound Clearing House

Greyhound Pets of America (GPA) Wisconsin

PETA – People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals

Disclosure: Ben Cable and Joyce Godwin Grubbs have adopted hounds. 

Photographs on this page used by permission and graciousness of GREY2K USA.

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