Saturday, March 31, 2012

Life After Racing, Part 3

Life after Racing, Part 3 - Cause and effect of proposed Grey2K USA (Grey2K) legislation to ban greyhound racing on greyhounds and the people associated with them.
By Leslie A. Wootten

As I introduce Part III of Life after racing I’m wondering why GREY2K likes to boast about its victory in MA, yet it fails to engage in any real discussion about the “Unforeseen consequences”

http://www.reverejournal.com/2010/10/06/where-have-all-the-racing-dogs-gone-first-they-went-to-florida-now-many-are-back-in-bay-state-3/

Where have all the racing dogs gone? – First they went to Florida; now many are back in Bay State

And now Part III of Life after Racing...

Indivisible Phenomenon
The indivisible phenomenon of cause and effect haunts GPA President, Rory Goreé, whose bucket list is emblazoned with the goal of seeing 100% of adoptable Greyhounds find loving homes, preferably through reputable adoption groups in the USA. Goreé is a mild-mannered man, but he sees red when it comes to a Grey2K effect that translates into the exportation of Greyhounds to countries that have no racing rules and regulations and no identifiable adoption options. Certainly, he is unhappy about the exportation, but he is furious that it could easily be prevented with more foresight, planning, and—to be completely transparent—a boost in funding for adoption groups instead of for lobbying groups such as Grey2K.

“GPA has $25,000 in reserve for track closures,” Goreé remarked. “I would feel a little better if we had at least $200,000 in the fund to face what is ahead.” To be sure, the $200,000 figure is conservative, as a review of calculations reflects. When a track closes, more Greyhounds come up for adoption than usual. The more Greyhounds there are in the adoption arena, the longer it takes to get them adopted. More Greyhounds mean additional (and extended) expense for food, housing, veterinary care, and transportation costs to get dogs out of saturated areas like Florida and into adoption groups elsewhere. The extra cost averages about $200 per dog. At any one time, tracks have a minimum of about 500 Greyhounds on site. If just two tracks close, up to 1,000 Greyhounds could suddenly be displaced and in need of adoptive homes, thus driving the needed amount for GPA’s reserve fund to $200,000. Should as many as ten tracks close, which is certainly realistic if legislation passes in Arizona, Iowa, Florida, and elsewhere, up to 5,000 Greyhounds could flood the adoption scene. Instantly, the fund requirements would surge to $1,000,000. “Getting the reserves to $200,000 is a start,” Goreé said. “It isn’t ideal, and I won’t be as comfortable as I’d like to be, but it will help. It’s better than no safety net at all.”

Goreé believes that between GPA and about 250 other adoption groups nationwide, there is enough volunteer-power to get the Greyhounds transitioned into adoptive homes. Funding, however, is lacking. Looking ahead to the effects of lobbied legislation is crucial. Grey2K provides no funds to prevent the havoc that unavoidably occurs, and since funds are not included in any legislation Grey2K promotes, groups like GPA must pick up the slack to ultimately protect—and yes, in some cases, save—the dogs.

Grey2K 990 Form - Gross Contributions $347K
In the past, a hefty percentage of support has come from the American Greyhound Council (AGC), which was established in 1987 to fund and manage Greyhound welfare, research, and adoption programs for the racing community. It is a joint effort of the National Greyhound Association and the American Greyhound Track Operators Association. The AGC provides adoption grants, Greyhound transportation, and, if needed, temporary housing. Last year, AGC budgeted $100,000 to help with Greyhound adoption efforts. Unfortunately, as another tsunami surges, AGC may not be able to offer as much assistance as it has in the past due to fewer owners/breeders of Greyhounds and fewer racetracks, which translates into AGC’s decreased membership and funding ability. The bottom line is that plentiful AGC money just isn’t going to be there when some of the most challenging times hit. Individual tracks have helped, but hard economic times have severely reduced their budgets, as well.

As 2011 state legislatures rev into gear, Grey2K is wooing politicians in Arizona, Iowa, and Florida, ramping up lobbying efforts in those states to see more Greyhound racetracks end live racing. Grey2K’s coffers expand as ample funds flow in from the wealthy Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS) and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (ASPCA), as well as from people who erroneously believe their donations help Greyhounds when they actually fund lobbying efforts.

Lobbyists certainly know the ways and means of politics, but they seldom know—or care—what comes after they finish their business in government halls. While lobbyists celebrate with satisfied smiles and fat paychecks for pushing a message they are paid to deliver, the real work begins in adoption programs such as GPA and others, none of which have the luxury of hiring lobbyists. As GPA President, Goreé donates his time to appear before legislatures, testifying against bills supported by Grey2K that do not include funding to help Greyhounds displaced by the measures. For his efforts, Goreé has to take time off from his paid position in the telecommunications environment.

Goreé has been a GPA volunteer since 1993. Prior to becoming national president in 2003, he served as vice president for two years. Several years ago, he was on the verge of leaving the presidency because he felt he’d done all he could as a leader of the country’s largest Greyhound adoption organization. He’d seen the number of chapters increase through a campaign push towards 100% adoption of adoptable Greyhounds. With adoption numbers hovering over 90%, he felt the goal was within sight.

He was battle-weary after coming through a grueling tangle with Greyhound track operators in Juarez, Mexico. During that process, when he began thinking about his own safety, all he had to do was think about the safety of Greyhounds that were basically held captive at the failed Juarez racetrack, and every ounce of fear fled. In time, a small window of opportunity was wrangled to get the Greyhounds out, and volunteers swooped in to rescue all the Greyhounds and bring them back to the USA to be adopted as pets.

After recharging his energy, Goreé realized his work as GPA President was not yet done, and he accepted another term with the support and encouragement of GPA members.

Being a president, even a volunteer president, is fraught with challenges, not the least of which is criticism coming from every angle. Criticism has always been the least of Goreé’s concerns. He made a decision early on to work with the industry, not to fight it. He didn’t have to be pro-racing, but he knew he couldn’t be anti-racing to accomplish what he wanted. From the beginning of his involvement, his vision remained focused, and it was centered on helping Greyhounds.

In the early 1990s, Goreé became one of the early founders of the Arizona chapter of GPA. Starting a GPA chapter made sense for Goreé because the nationwide organization, which was officially born in 1987, has always maintained a neutral position towards racing.

Upon becoming national GPA president, Goreé was in a better position to meet and form alliances with the American Greyhound Council. He also established contacts with state and national racing regulators. In fact, Goreé made it a point to attend industry conferences and meetings when invited, always ready to share GPA’s mission, which is, “To find responsible loving homes for Greyhounds, to acquaint the public with the desirability of Greyhounds as pets, and to inform them of the availability of Greyhounds for adoption.” His connections ultimately paid off through financial as well regulatory support, especially when crises occurred that needed immediate attention, such as the Juarez incident. U.S. regulators couldn’t help the Greyhounds in Juarez, but AGC funding to help get them transported to safety could, and did.

Critics such as Grey2K and others have claimed that funding provided by the industry is “blood money for a blood sport,” and that GPA is nothing more than an industry appendage. In a 2009 email, for example, Dorchak circulated an email urging New Hampshire “animal advocates” to “refrain from interacting” with GPA based on its history of testifying against Grey2K bills. As a true Greyhound advocate, Goreé simply laughs at such allegations. He knows better. He indicated that before he takes action, he asks himself if Greyhounds will be served. If the answer is yes, he goes forward, simple as that.

Unlike Grey2K, GPA is an all-volunteer, nonprofit organization where 100% of the donations are used to directly benefit Greyhounds. While Grey2K President Dorchak and her husband, Cary Theil, Executive Director, are paid salaries by their organization, no salaries are paid by GPA. Goreé has a full-time job elsewhere, as do many GPA officers, directors, and volunteers. Some are retired from income-producing jobs. Regardless of job status, everyone’s GPA work—often full-time in itself—is gratis.

GPA has 49 chapters spread throughout the country. Having so many chapters is a positive because there is an expansive network of support. Conversely, such numbers are inherently challenging because from chapter-to-chapter, member-to-member, there are many different opinions and viewpoints. As organizations, GPA National and GPA chapters embrace a neutral position on racing. However, there is inherent flexibility and adaptability in that position because individual GPA members vary in stance with a blend of pro-racing, anti-racing, and true neutrals forming a diverse mix. The unifying touchstone for all GPA members is their bipartisan commitment to Greyhounds.

National GPA is incorporated as a 501c3 nonprofit with policies and procedures as well as bylaws that serve to guide individual GPA chapters. Each chapter is required to be incorporated in its state of operation with its own board of directors along with policies, procedures, and bylaws in accordance with state requirements.

Chapters are responsible for raising their basic operational funds in service to the hounds, which most do through various means: special event fundraisers, donations, and grants, for example. However, in times of unusual circumstance, the national arm of GPA provides financial aid and support. For example, it provides grants from its Emily Griffin Injury Fund to help defray extraordinary veterinary expenses for medical or surgical costs. It also offers grants for the purchase of transportation trailers or vans, capital improvements, such as kennel repairs, electrical upgrades, fencing or crate purchases. In addition, it provides aid to chapters when there are natural disasters such as Hurricane Katrina or track closures that flood the adoption arena with huge numbers of Greyhounds.

Although Goreé’s paying job has nothing to do with Greyhounds, everything else in his life does. In fact, it is hard to catch him discussing any other topic. He met his wife, Kathy Hoynes, through a shared love of the breed. She recalls that when they originally met at a 2004 GPA conference in Richmond, Virginia, she walked over to introduce herself, and he seemed more interested in meeting her Greyhound, Winston. Later that year, Goreé asked Winston to be in charge of the party desk for the “Greyhounds Make Great Pets” radio show he hosts. Since Winston’s speaking skills were limited, Goreé invited Hoynes to co-host the show, and they’ve been co-hosts ever since.

Hoynes remarked, “Rory is one of those animal loving souls, and it seems he’s always been that way even when he was very young … he just seems to understand and communicate with dogs and cats in a very unique way. Not in the animal communicator way, but as someone who loves and respects them for who they are.”

Indeed, dogs have loomed large in Goreé’s life since childhood. As a birthday present in 2006, Hoynes, who is an artist, presented Goreé with a watercolor she’d painted of him with his first dog, a mixed breed named Cinnamon. The painting, she noted, was inspired by a faded black and white photo of Goreé as a young boy hugging his dog.

Goreé and Hoynes married in December of 2006, and their corner of Glendale, Arizona, tends to have more Greyhounds than people roaming about. The couple attends many GPA and other Greyhound-related events around the country, spreading the word, admiring the breed, sharing the love.

These days, it’s difficult for Goreé to relax at home or in public because he’s always thinking about the flood of adoptable Greyhounds that must be taken care of as more tracks close in the very near future. Having just been through a massive wave of nine tracks closing over a short period of time with another major wave on the way, disaster preparedness is crucial. “We can’t just wait to see what happens,” Goreé remarked. With a cautious, but fearless, eye to the future, he is not about to forget that Greyhounds are his mission, always.

Friday, March 30, 2012

Life After Racing, Part 2

Life After Racing, Part 2 - Examines the cause & effect of Grey2K USA's (Grey2K) actions upon the greyhounds caught up in the results. Examines how greyhounds are being exported to South American countries.
By Leslie A. Wootten

South American Conundrum

Sergio Cortella and his wife, Silvana Rizzi, operate Hollydogs Greyhound Adoption, a non-profit group based in Hollywood, Florida. The couple also owns Hollydogs Pet Hotel. Because this was the group Anonymous pointed to, I spent hours talking to Sergio Cortella on the phone. His wife did not wish to speak with me. The only communication I had with her was a brief telephone conversation in which she indicated her husband knew nothing about Greyhounds going to South America, and via an email where she wrote, “Throught out [sic] the years, I have received numerous requests for adoption from the Bahamas, Puerto Rico, you name it and I had [sic] always rejected the request.”

In Florida, I visited the combined facility of Hollydogs adoption kennel and pet hotel, which is a couple of blocks from Hollywood Greyhound Track. The Greyhounds appeared well-fed and healthy, the place spotless. Sergio Cortella served as host, and he was cordial during my visit and during all telephone conversations. He did convey that my inquiries had created trouble for him with his wife who has never approved of his “wheeling and dealing” involvement with Greyhounds.

Cortella said he has a passion for the kind of short course racing that occurs in his home country of Argentina, and that he also has a fondness for amateur lure coursing competitions in the USA. In years past, he apparently very much liked track racing in the USA, as well. His wife, he noted, does not share his appreciation for racing of any kind, and this gap has at times created tension in their relationship.

Hollydogs Adoption Vehicle
In fact, Silvana Rizzi is staunchly anti-racing according to a December 2, 2010, Miami Herald article where she is quoted as stating, “For many years we stayed politically correct so that we could rescue the animals and find them homes. Now we have the connections we need to do that and work to see legislation abolish Greyhound racing.” Cortella told me his wife was misquoted, but the 2009 nonprofit income tax form (990) for Hollydogs Greyhound Adoption reinforces her quoted statement in the Miami Herald. The 990 form states the group’s mission is “Rescue—rehabilitation and placement of retired racing Greyhounds that otherwise would have been destroyed into qualified loving homes.” Their website states, “Sadly many greyhounds are destroyed on a regular basis because they do not have any place to go.” Such comments confirm an anti-racing stance, although Cortella insisted he has always advocated a position that is middle-of-the road, not too extreme one way or the other.

Curiously enough, Hollydogs is one of seven adoption groups in Florida that Grey2k’s website linked to as recently as February 13, 2011. Hollydogs’ rhetoric is surprisingly similar to that of Grey2K. When I asked Dorchak how her organization determines what groups to link to on the Grey2K website, she stated there is an open invitation for any group to request linkage. She added that the groups tend to “share our view.” Indeed, that certainly appears to be the case here. Another group that Grey2K links to is the National Greyhound Adoption Program (NGAP) based in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, an organization led by David Wolf, who is extremely vocal about his anti-racing position. Hollydogs’ website notes that Wolf provided high-definition photos for their “Greyhounds Going Home” bus, which transports Greyhounds to Wolf’s NGAP facility for adoption.

According to Cortella, he and his wife moved to Florida from Argentina in the early 1990s. They both worked for a time at racing kennels in the state. Unhappy with that experience, the couple decided to leave the racetrack realm. Soon, they shifted into Greyhound pet adoption, setting up their nonprofit group in 1994. Despite the shift in focus, Cortella’s interest in competitive Greyhound bloodlines—and competition—continued. He immersed himself in amateur lure coursing all over the country, capturing numerous trophies with his own Greyhound competitors.

Ebony River
Given his exposure to U.S. Greyhounds and his ever-increasing knowledge, he became the primary source of consultation and information for South American individuals seeking quality Greyhounds. Through the years, Cortella connected South American buyers with U.S. Greyhound owners, and legitimate sales occurred. He noted he was occasionally paid a commission by the sellers. Two of the Greyhound stud sales he was involved with include Ebony River (runner-up in the 2006 Derby Lane Million) and I’ve Got You Babe. These and other transactions were confirmed with the U.S. owner, Cary Alsobrook, who told me, “Sergio and I have always had a good relationship.”

Running alongside confirmed facts are anecdotes that infer Cortella’s involvement in selling or transferring adoptive Greyhounds to South American interests without owner consent. Of course, it would be easy to conclude that because Cortella has an adoption group, he might skim off a few Greyhounds now-and-then to sell to South American interests, or that he might have used the cream-of-the-crop adoptees in his lure coursing adventures. Some believe these possibilities to be true. When confronted, Cortella denied such activity convincingly, and I discovered no factual evidence to prove him wrong.

What Cortella freely admitted is that some of the South American individuals began making their own contacts with owners and/or kennel operators. He noted that others who had worked with him spiraled out of his control, causing Greyhounds to be sold or given away to unknowns in South America. Disapproving of such activity, Cortella consequently severed relations with at least one individual who, in turn, began a hostile campaign against him, spreading misinformation on discussion boards and elsewhere. “That guy talks bad about me, then lists USA Greyhounds for sale,” Cortella remarked, hinting that there might be something devious about the fellow’s dealings.

It seems clear that Cortella helped spawn a voracious appetite. He indicated that South Americans have enjoyed country-style Greyhound racing for about 50 years, but recently, people have developed a particularly competitive spirit causing them to want the best bloodlines possible. This spirit has obviously been fueled by the domino effect of so many track closures in a short period of time, making stellar bloodlines easier-than-ever to acquire.

Cortella noted that South Americans do not understand the philosophy of giving “retired” racing Greyhounds to adoption groups to pet out, and that he had often had to explain the process. He might have explained the process a little too well because some have taken advantage of the opportunity to get quality bloodlines for minimal investment, sometimes free except for the price of health certificates and airfare. The ploy has clearly worked in a number of cases, especially in South Florida where nonstop, daily flights are commonplace between Miami and Buenos Aires, Argentina, and Santiago, Chile.

Make no mistake, some individuals from other countries have purchased Greyhounds with owner consent, but other Greyhounds have slipped through the cracks, unwitting products of Grey2K’s doctrinaire cause to stop what they call “the cruelty of Greyhound racing.” The organization claims, “Greyhound racing is cruel and inhumane and should be prohibited,” as if that is the end of the story. But, of course, the story doesn’t end there at all.

Comments on Part 2
It's been a year and Carey Theil has had ample opportunity to fess up and explain why Grey2K USA actions created a boom time for South American greyhound racing and breeding.  He has remained silent. Why? Well, as long as he has a public that does not know what Grey2K is really about then Carey has an opportunity to continually collect money so he and his wife, Christine Dorchak, who masquerades as the organization's president, can line their own pockets with money that should go to real heroes, the heroes of greyhound adoption!

Grey2K likes to toot it's own horn about Massachusetts victory, but they are unwilling to debate the Cause and Effect of Grey2K USA's own actions.  Why?


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Life After Racing... Part 1

The effect of Grey2K USA (Grey2K) effort resulting in the closure of greyhound racetracks in New England. What would happen if greyhound racing is shut down in Florida? Greyhounds going to South America. The Greyhound Support Transport started and funded by greyhound racing folks.
By Leslie A. Wootten

Cause and Effect
If Christine Dorchak, President of Grey2K, admitted to a bucket list, her top pick would certainly be to see the end of live Greyhound racing in the USA. To be sure, her organization is devoting buckets, actually barrels, of time and money towards making this happen in the seven states where live racing currently exists. In a recent telephone conversation, I asked for her comments on life after Greyhound racing in the USA, but she made sure I understood such a notion was merely, and quite unfortunately, hypothetical at the present time. She exclaimed, “We have seen tracks close, but 23 tracks are still in existence.” She amplified her statement with the carefully worded remark, “We want to phase out commercial Greyhound racing nationwide.”

Christine Dorchak
When I inquired about NGA (U.S. registered) Greyhounds that could have gone into adoption that are instead showing up racing or breeding in countries such as Argentina, Chile, India, and Pakistan, she snapped, “I am not aware of that.” She added the caveat, “It would be an economic mistake for the host countries and a humane mistake for the Greyhounds.”

Such a response indicates that Dorchak’s organization is so myopically focused on lobbying to end racing that it is not paying attention to wide-ranging ripple effects. In 2008, Grey2K and its financial backers funded a biased blitz of a campaign to shut down racing via ballot initiative in Massachusetts. The effort was successful, and Greyhound racing ceased there at the end of 2009. Approximately 400 Greyhounds were relocated to adoptive homes or other racetracks.

Along with Massachusetts’ two track closures, seven other tracks ceased live racing during 2009 and 2010 (1 in Arizona, 3 in New Hampshire, 1 in Rhode Island, 1 in Texas, and 1 in Wisconsin). While many of the Greyhounds were adopted out as pets, many others transferred to tracks around the country, displacing Greyhounds that still had racing ability, but nowhere suitable to race. The displaced dogs had to be moved out, some into adoption programs even though they still had racing talent, some to lesser - and less desirable - racetracks, and some to race or breed in other countries, often without the owner’s express knowledge or consent.

It certainly would appear that Grey2K’s triumph in Massachussetts was a mutual triumph for South American Greyhound racing enthusiasts, as well. In response to information posted about the initiative’s passage on a forum about Greyhound racing in Chile, a remark was made that this could be very good for Chilenos to obtain excellent bloodlines at a much reduced price. A short time later on that thread, Sergio Cortella of “Hollydogs” posted that he had a “two-year old female ready to run” and space on a flight from Miami to Santiago.

Could it be that Greyhound racing, like so many other American-born venues, is simply going to disappear from our shores, that it is going to be shipped elsewhere for economic as well as political reasons? An illustrative image that Rory Goreé, President of Greyhound Pets of America, brings up when discussing the topic is a demolished Cannon towel plant in North Carolina that left 7,650 people unemployed. “You can still buy a Cannon towel,” Goreé said, “You just can’t buy one that was made in the USA.” Goreé, who has been an animal advocate all of his life, would be the first to exclaim that Greyhounds are not towels! They are live animals that deserve our protection. “Greyhound racing isn’t perfect,” he said, “But we have regional and national regulations in place. We have adoption groups to assure Greyhounds are transitioned into homes following their racing careers.

Greyhounds at Racetrack in Chile
The crux of the matter is this. Greyhound racing isn’t going to go away. It is going to go overseas into unregulated environments where rules and regulations and adoption programs simply don’t exist.

When GPA headquarters received an anonymous tip that an adoption group in South Florida was sending Greyhounds to race and breed in South America, antennae went up because such activity defies the mission of all Greyhound adoption efforts. Interested in finding out what was really going on, I began investigating the situation using a list of Greyhounds provided by Anonymous. Online research confirmed that most of the listed dogs were indeed racing or breeding in the southern hemisphere. U.S. owners were contacted, and while some confirmed sales, others expressed a range of reactions from mild surprise to explicit rage.

After telephone conversations with a variety of owners, trainers, and adoption volunteers, I traveled to South Florida to further explore the South American connection. What I found was an already difficult situation complicated by the domino effect of so many track closures over a short period of time.

Prior to my arrival, information indicated that the Miami area was at the center of the storm, and, indeed, this proved to be true. In fact, Hialeah’s “Florida Kennels,” is apparently a hotbed for Greyhounds being turned over to individuals who roam from kennel to kennel, asking, “Do you have any adoption dogs?”

“Florida Kennels” is a shared compound for operators that race at Magic City (Flagler) and Mardi Gras (Hollywood) Greyhound tracks. Both racetracks include casinos. The kennel compound is in the largely Hispanic community of Hialeah, which is about 15 miles from Mardi Gras and about two miles from Magic City. The compound’s landlords are the respective owners of the Magic City and Mardi Gras.

At the compound, concrete-block buildings sprawl over many acres, reminiscent of military housing that is sturdy, but no-frills utilitarian. According to trainer, Crystal Carroll, rent is relatively low (under $500 per month for one building), but summer utilities for air-conditioning can top $600 per month.

The property’s outer perimeter is fenced by chain-link, and entry is monitored by a security guard. On the two days I visited, the entry gate was apparently broken, and I saw no sign of a guard. Each building is equipped with double-tier crates and a fenced turn-out area in back. With no windows, a steel front-door, and plenty of space between structures for vehicle parking, there is a sense of privacy. This means no-one has to worry about competitors over-hearing conversations that might lend insight into the status of someone else’s racers, or anything else.

The individuals asking for adoption dogs are very often Spanish-speaking visitors from South America seeking give-aways. Representatives of the adoption group, “Friends of Greyhounds,” have the perfect reply when such seekers show up at their kennel door, which is one of the first kennels on the Hialeah property. “Sure, we have adoption dogs. Come back and talk to us in a couple of days after they are spayed and neutered.” Inquirers will often make clear they want an “intact” animal, and when they see that’s not going to happen, they quickly move on and do not return. “Friends of Greyhounds” is the track-sponsored adoption group for Flagler and Hollywood, and it is provided with a kennel building and crates for about 50 adoption dogs that typically come to them via kennel operators housed on-site.
Friends of Greyhounds Dogs

When faced with the same inquiry, some kennel operators have quite a different response. Joe Trudden, for example, told me there have been times when he has said, “Yes.” Faced with a constant influx of racers, and an adoption waiting list, he has turned dogs over, knowing they are going to breed or race in South America. He indicated that he visited the southern continent and observed first-hand that Greyhounds typically compete in short, straight racing once a week or so, and that the dogs generally live with no more than a few other Greyhounds as pets the rest of the time. When asked if any money exchanges hands for the South American-bound Greyhounds, Trudden told me he has never taken any money for such transactions, and that no transfer papers are handed-over, either. He indicated that those who take the dogs will have at least a couple of hundred dollars invested in getting the animals to South America, fees that include health certificates, vaccinations, and airfare. While Trudden made clear that sending Greyhounds out-of-the-country has never been his preferred choice, he noted that sometimes it is the only immediately viable alternative. When owners inquire, he can state unequivocally—and without a guilty conscience—that their Greyhounds have been “petted-out.”

In an environment where euthanasia of former racers is never an acceptable option, such a view is apparently shared in some form by other kennel operators, as well. Trudden was the only person to tell me he knowingly gave away Greyhounds to race or breed in South America. Roger Rodriguez, a former kennel operator at Flagler who kenneled at the Hialeah compound, took a different route of explanation. He did not return my call, but phoned Greyhound owner, Richard Maddock, to explain how sorry he was to have foolishly given away several Greyhounds to individuals who came through the compound asking for adoption dogs. Rodriguez told Maddock that he thought the Greyhounds were going to be pets, but subsequently surfaced as racers and/or breeders in South America. Maddock’s female, RJ’s Cabrillo, was one of those “give-aways,” and she is now a brood matron in Argentina, apparently earning income for Andres Miranda of Kennel Greyhound Victoria. Maddock told me he believes Rodriguez committed an honest, if stupid, mistake that involved no money.
Greyhound Support Transport Haul Vehicle

Crystal Carroll, trainer of the Janie Carroll Kennel at Hollywood track, does not believe it’s necessary to hand over Greyhounds to go to South America, especially with the advent of Greyhound Support Transport (GST). In December of 2008, Carroll and another trainer, Monica Rigo, of Derby Lane’s Royal Racing, established GST to help alleviate high numbers of Greyhounds in Florida that were awaiting adoption. Incorporated in the state of Florida as a non-profit, GST is based in the Miami area. Rather than attempt adoptions in a saturated environment, the group moves retired racers from Florida tracks and breeding farms to reputable adoption groups in non-racing states and Canada. Carroll coordinates the hauls, many of which go to the Pacific Northwest and Northeastern states.

In 2009, GST transported 250 Greyhounds, with the numbers nearly doubling to 400 in 2010. Carroll expects the 2011 tally to be even higher, ranging from 415 to 450. By the end of February 2011, 89 Greyhounds had already been transported. She noted that GST is run by trainers and is largely funded by NGA registered Greyhound owners, who typically donate about half the transport fee per dog. Fundraisers and grants from the Tony Stewart Foundation, American Greyhound Council, and elsewhere, have also helped with transportation expenses. “It’s amazing what we can do when we work together,” Carroll said.

A Bit About Leslie
Leslie and her greyhounds, Annie & Louise
Leslie descends from a family that has been involved with Greyhound racing and its ancestor, coursing, since the late 1800’s. As an author, historian, and speaker, she embraces the adage, “To know who we are, we must know where we came from.” Through her research and writing, she embraces Greyhound racing—its storied past, colorful present, exciting future.

As a historian, Leslie has special interest in Greyhound racing and Greyhound pet adoption. Her sport biography, KEEFER: THE PEOPLE'S CHOICE, is available at the National Greyhound Association, the Greyhound Hall of Fame, and Amazon.com. Please contact her, if you want to purchase an autographed copy or multiple books. For every book Leslie sells, a donation is made to benefit Greyhound pet adoption.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Morph - The Last of the Kansas City Boyfriends

The last of Betty Zubritsky's Kansas City kennel boyfriends. The story of a black greyhound at the Woodlands in Kansas.
By Betty Zubritsky

This recent stroll through Boyfriend-ville has pulled quite a lot of memories out of the mist. Oh, they're always there, not out of reach, but often out of mind and I function pretty well. Most of the time. My loves in Kansas City may always be my most treasured, but part of that is likely to rest in the fact that I had them for so much longer. I spent 3 years there, and our romances were lovely,lengthy affairs. And, while I was there, I could reasonably imagine those fine boys in my house... because I had one then.

There were many Boyfriends in Kansas, and their stories are really only mine. PBall and Bam, Huey and Lowie, Lawman, Andy, Goody... And Big. But the one that will round out my Kansas Boys is the one that... well, he was The One.

Greyhound Hauler - John Holman's Rig
The hauler popped open a door and 2 lovely heads emerges. Two whole dogs would have too, but the young man is quite good at this and he deftly snagged both collars in his skillful hands. "Here ya go, hon. Got him?" as I took hold of one collar, I assured him that I did and he held his dog slightly back so I could bring mine out. Not that there was any difficulty in the "coming out". My Big Black Boy launched himself nearly over my head. "Got him, honey???" I've come to be accustomed to the concern. I'm not very big and handling these dogs is sometimes a challenge. But my hand was still firmly on the collar and I was still on my feet. So far, so good. The hauler, with the second dog from that compartment, was right on my heels as I took... actually, as My Big Black Boy took ME... to the turnout yard.

More dogs, more trips to and from the hauler, and when the transfer was complete, I stood out on the patio and watched over my new arrivals. Craig and the nice hauler guy remained inside, sorting out the papers and chatting about whatever trainers and hauler guys chat about. Alone with my dogs, I gazed upon the beauty of them. It never gets old, this first encounter. Those first few moments when they are released from the trailer, and the snuffle about and explore their new surroundings. They trot and prance, they roll in the sand. They make their outputs and investigate ever link in the fence. There are rarely any scuffles, and my interference is unnecessary. I just watch them, drink in the fluid movements of their bodies, the curious tips of their heads. Dogs are just plain fun to observe.

Tom The Cat
This particular haul was one of our earliest ones, and I really hadn't formed any criteria for Boyfriend Status, yet. I'd fall madly for just about anybody. So I homed in on the Big Black Brute that was so much fun to get out of the trailer, and I ran my eyes over him. They lingered on his broad face, his muscular shoulders. He stepped with confidence about the yard and trotted away from me so I could admire his beautiful butt. Hey! Son, you have no pompoms!

Indeed, he was nutless. It mattered not a drip to his racing ability, and certainly didn't matter to me for the purpose of Boyfriend-ness. Not a criticism, just an observation.

When the hauler departed, Craig and I set about to match our dogs to their papers, and I learned that my Big Black Boy was named Morfin Gaunt. This was apparently a character in the (then very popular) Harry Potter books, which I had never read. I know, I'm un-American or something. So he morphed to Morph for me, and without any particular reason, I fell in love.  Funny how things work out.

Morph was delighted in his status. he would lay his face on my hip and gaze up at me like I was all the world. The I Love You gaze. This was the Boy that went out with me to pick up the yards, and he knew it. Waited by the gate while I bedded the rest of the boys. Would not be distracted. Spoiled rotten, he sure was, and I was perfectly OK with that. his enthusiasm didn't quite match that of Bare Lee (as if anybody could come close to that), in fact, he walked beside me like a Nice Boy whenever I weighed him in. "I'm a-walkin' with My Lady. She loves me." The leadouts, however, didn't have such an easy time of it. My 84 pound Boyfriend dragged them mercilessly to the box. And I'm just enough of a jerk to have found it amusing.

Socializing puppies
Our scale clerk was used to me by then. We had a dog with a really awful name, one that I just couldn't make myself say out loud. When I weighed that dog in, I'd declare "Stupid Name". The clerk dutifully checked his ledger, saw what I was referring to, and gave me the nod. So when I weighed in my Morph, he figured I knew what I was talking about when I declared "Handsome Boyfriend". Chuckles all around. Betty's in love.

On a sunny afternoon, I finished up my turnout and popped the gate for my Morph. Time for our little date, honey. He was a very attentive Boyfriend. Didn't charge around the yard like a lunatic, but stayed quietly beside me as I picked up the remaining plops. "See honey? Rake and scoop, all these little piles have to get picked up. Go along and play now." But he lingered, rested his face on my hip. Something was on his mind and I leaned my tools against the fence to give him my full attention. "What is it, darlin'?"

Soft as a butterfly, he took my hand in his mouth.

We strolled around the yard together, just enjoying our special time, "holding hands." In my mind, as we walked, the sandy yard drifted away and we were on the grassy bank of a stream. Willows waved their gentle fronds, and sunlight glittered through. "I'm a walkin' with My Lady, where-ever she wants to go. She loves me."

I ordered the materials for my fence. I'd already lost GoodBar. I wasn't going to lose Morph. My friend, Jim, took him to his farm to wait the couple weeks it would take me to get the job done.

And it's not at all funny how things work out. The day my posts were delivered, Mr. Grace announced the end of The Woodlands. I scoured the want ads for a job that would support me. There were none. Took two part time jobs and still couldn't scrape up enough of a budget to keep myself alive. Sold stuff. Sold more stuff... and the grim reality just could not be denied. I called Jim.

He and Kate made the arrangements for me. I was too ruined to arrange much of anything. On the night before the haul, I was invited to visit my precious boy, and I didn't know if I could. And I knew that I had to.

Slatex Gabriel
He bounced on his toes when I walked into the kennel. "MEMEMEMEMEME!!! What's the holdup??" Yes honey, I know. I popped his crate door and he flew into my arms. We hadn't seen each other in 2 weeks, and his joy was a frenzy. Mine was... well, it was something else, and I took my Handsome Boyfriend out to the yard. Picked up a rake and a scoop, just to have something in my hands. Just to feel normal. Waited silently while he peed. Ran my eyes over him, much as I had done on that very first day. They lingered on his broad face, his muscular shoulders, and then they couldn't see anything anymore.

He rested his face on my hip. Gazed up at me like I was all the world. I propped my tools against the fence.

And he took my hand in his mouth. Soft as a butterfly. Soft as my tears on his sweet head. I love you, son. I'll always love you best.

Friday, March 23, 2012

Big Tay

Betty Zubritsky's series on kennel boyfriends continues.
By Breeze

He’s not the first Big Tay. And not nearly as Big as the First Big Tay. But he’s nicely sizeable, and he arrived with Taylor on his muzzle, so he was going to be a Tay of some size anyway. Might as well be a Big one.
Crazywiki (Wiki)

The First Big Tay was Taygur. A monstrous big lad with the temper of a kitten. A lovely shiny black boy with a beautiful face and a “lightness” in his step. The very top of his head snugged right up into my armpit, and it snugged there quite a lot. “BIG TAY!!” and there he’d be, resting his lovely face where nobody really wants to go. (Dogs apparently don’t care a whit about armpit smells…. or they like them.) The day I met him, I noted that he was in a top crate. At the very same time I noted the incredible bulk of him. Honey, if you don’t jump into that bed, we’re gonna have us a Big Trouble. (That’s Trouble with a capital Tay, you know.) And I watched him at turnout, how he towered over all the rest of the boys. Made ‘em all look puny, he did. But for all his enormous size, he was a sweet and charming young man. There was never a flare of temper, not a smidge of aggression. And when it was time to go to bed, he hopped ever so nimbly into his upper bunk.

I was in love.
Okie Tavis (Tavvy)

The days, the weeks, they came and went, and our love together grew. Offering him a cookie sent him into Terrier spins. Seeing that much dog do that much spinning… hey, it’s something close to a miracle. He did the I Love You gaze, peeking out from under my arm. I could smooch the top of his head without even having to bend over hardly. And the day that one of the Bad Boys got into a scuffle with him, I raged into that yard to end the battle. I do it for anybody, but this was My Darling. Ya doesn’t mess with my Tay. The Bad Boy was properly scolded. A quick exam showed a little scrape under Tays arm. No other damage. But that scrape pissed me off, and the Bad Boy was shunned for life.


Ok, not as bad as all that. I still loved the Bad Boy too….. but ya doesn’t mess with my Tay.

On a crisp and sunny afternoon, with the radio on and the doggies outside, there came a familiar rhythm, a toe-tapping just plain feel good melody from Abba, and I went out with my dogs to dance.

Girls first. “If you change your mind, I’ll be first in line. Honey I’m still free, take a chance on me.” We skipped and played and the girls are very good dancers! Oh, what beautiful girlies, dancing in the bright sunshine! And I left the girls behind to go dance with my boys.

“And you know I’ve got, so much that I wanna do, when I dream I’m alone with you, it’s magic!” I skipped about with my boys, arms outstretched, and there under one of them… was my Big Tay. Skipping. Prancing. Great big monstrous boy. Dancing.
Whiperwill Lil (Lil)

It was hard to leave that kennel. And I never ever forgot Big Tay.

I don’t expect quite so much from the new one. He’s a youngster and utterly mannerless, but I do still like ‘em that way. Big and dumb, yessiree, those are my favorites. So far, he knows that he’s Big Tay. And… well that’s really about all he knows. But for all his bulk, he’s a mild mannered young man. A lovely shiny black boy with a beautiful face and a “lightness” in his step. A dancer? Oh maybe. I hope so.

I always love a dancer.

(Reprinted courtesy of All About Greyhounds)

Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Roots of Anti-Racing Activism

The roots of anti greyhound racing activism and greyhound adoption pioneers.
By Dennis McKeon

There have been few issues in the realm of public discussion that have engendered more misunderstanding, misinformation or more vitriolic speech, than whether or not Greyhound Racing should remain a lawful, state-regulated activity.

Anti-racing activists have used their media bully pulpit to publicize their point of view since the late 1970s, while media journalists have seldom, if ever, asked a penetrating question of them. The popular narrative of greyhound racing, as well as the lives of Racing Greyhounds, has been spun by those who have absolutely no idea what they are talking about, and who have absolutely no experience working within greyhound racing, in any capacity whatsoever.

Edward J Keelan
Now the greyhound racing community is just as responsible for the reams of misinformation that abound on the subject of greyhounds and greyhound racing, because, until only recently, they have been in virtual denial of the true agenda and the zealous extremism of these various anti-racing activist groups. They have never made a concerted effort to get their side of the story out there to the public.

So let’s all do a little exercise here, and see if we can’t figure out just what is the truth about Racing Greyhounds and greyhound racing…and who are the truth-tellers, and who are the prevaricators. Exploring the roots of anti-racing activism, this vignette is pretty much a microcosm of the entire controversy.

Q. Who began formalized adoption of retired racing greyhounds?

A. The racing community began formalized adoption of retired racers. The earliest adoption pioneers were Ed Keelan, general manager of the tracks at Seabrook and Plainfield, and various racing greyhound owners, breeders and trainers. The quote below is from a letter written by one of those adoption pioneers, racing greyhound owner and breeder, the late Joan Dillon, which appeared in the April 1981 edition of Turnout Magazine:

“It would be nice if more tracks would have an adoption agency for retired greyhounds…I see by a recent “Post Time” (newsletter article), that Seabrook now has such an agency”.

This track-operated adoption effort was actually begun sometime before 1981, when Joan’s letter was published.

In that same issue of Turnout Magazine, which was published by the Massachusetts breeders’ and kennel owners’ New England Greyhound Association, and edited by Greg Farley (the fiancee of a racing-greyhound owner, and a former sports scribe for the Boston Record-American), is an article by UK adoption pioneer, Gee Lebon. Gee was a regular, featured columnist in Turnout, which began publication in 1979. Her column always concerned encouragement and advice to adopters and potential adopters of retired greyhounds..So, while reading the various diatribes of the current anti-racing activist movement, one might have surmised that greyhound owners were dragged by the hair of their heads, kicking and screaming, into grudgingly supporting adoption, nothing could be further from the truth.

As a matter of fact, these early, grassroots, racing community efforts at formal adoption infrastructure and outreach were actually undermined by the anti-racing activists of the era. They were focused, at the time, on outlawing the use of live jackrabbits in the training of soon-to-be racers. The way they went about this, through their media allies, was to characterize the Racing Greyhound as having been “TRAINED TO KILL!!!!”, and as being an unsafe and unstable breed, given to mercurial and unpredictable outbursts of bloodlust—because they had been allowed to course after their natural prey, the verminous, crop-destroying jackrabbit.
Romeo & Billy Rabbit

It didn’t matter that most never got close enough to the jackrabbit to even lick their chops—it helped them get their point across--sadly, at the expense of thousands of could-have-been adoptions. Their boisterous campaign, not surprisingly, didn’t exactly inspire confidence in the greyhound’s potential adoptive audience. At the time, even the then-president of the seminal version of the now animal rights extremist group, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), John Hoyt, had told Farley, in a 1983 interview for Turnout Magazine:. “I don’t think the humane movement would be quick to condemn the humane destruction of these Greyhounds, though we would certainly insist that it be done humanely.”

So when you hear from those who didn’t know a greyhound from a grapefruit at the time, about all the “bad things” that happened to greyhounds in bygone days, you should take it with a grain of salt. It was none other than anti-racing activists of the era who were responsible for portraying the Racing Greyhound in the most unflattering light possible, and for sabotaging the earliest efforts on the part of the greyhound racing community to acquaint the public of potential greyhound adopters with the breed.

Lily and Hoover
Back in those days, the greyhound races everywhere were extremely well attended, and there was keen interest in the dogs—not only as racers, but as personalities and as potential pets. The much-ballyhooed jackrabbit controversy, as well as the early, popular anti-racing mythology that concerned the wearing of muzzles, slowly eroded some of the interest in the breed as possible family pets.

Greyhounds wear muzzles, as most now know, not because they are vicious and prone to biting, but because during play with one another, should one of them take exception to another’s “enthusiasm”, and then amp-up the volume of play, sometimes things can get a little too contentious. These are very competitive animals, once their blood is up. No need for that, hence the muzzles.

It’s not a hard concept for anyone, other than who choose demagoguery over greyhound welfare, to grasp. Some things never change.

Wednesday, March 21, 2012

An Open Letter to Grey2K Followers

Donations to Grey2K USA (Grey2K) are not tax deductible and about 23% go directly to salaries for the husband & wife team of Christine Dorchak and Carey Theil. Those donations also pay for legal fees and Christine Dorchak is the General Counsel for Grey2K. Double dipping?
By Dick Ciampa

It is time to rethink where your hard earned money gets donated to. Grey2K needs your donations because Carey and Christine's salaries are based on how much they take in each year. As a 501 (c) (4) non profit there are restrictions as to how much they can take as SALARY.

Grey2K 990 Form, Page 1
The IRS allows up to 25% of the total donations to be distributed in salaries and they usually keep it around 23%.

During the last two weeks didn't you find it strange that there was no mention of what was going on in Florida? Remember last year when almost daily they were giving updates and asking for money to keep moving forward and you complied with your donations.

This year, silence, they didn't want you to know what was going on because there would be a good chance many of you would figure out after two years of donating, and not being successful, that you would donate your hard earned money to your local group or shelter.

Didn't you notice the many items that were for sale on their FB wall? Why in the middle of the fight in Florida were they selling so many items? The answer is because if they told you they lost again and the donations went down, so would their salary.

However, you shouldn't feel bad if you stop donating and their salaries go down because they get to fly around the country on you and eat dinner on you. They can accumulate frequent flyer miles on you so when they take a vacation the flights are on you.

One last thing about their salaries, even if they go down there is still the line on their 990's that includes LEGAL FEES and we all know who Grey2K's legal counsel is don't we.

Carey and Christine make a nice living off you, but, what have they done for you.

So the next time you write a check out to help the dogs consider making it out to your local humane society, not the HSUS, your local humane society.

Tuesday, March 20, 2012

An Adopter Speaks....

A greyhound adopter speaks out! Personal view on greyhound racing, greyhound adoption and the anti-racing, animal rights movement by Grey2K USA (Grey2 K).
By Jeff Blitch

I have been reading more and more about anti-racing groups and it concerns me greatly. I have been an owner of retired greyhounds for 7 years now and currently have 3 greyhounds as part of my family 2 retired racers and 1 that never raced (just don’t tell her because she thinks she did). The latest two adoptions came thru It's A Grey Area Adoption, Inc.

Pups Being Socialized at the Moore Farm
Here’s my perspective on racing greyhounds and the kennels that are a part of it. THANK YOU!

I don’t think people realize that without racing we wouldn't have the ability to have these majestic dogs as part of our family. The kennels that raise, train, and race these dogs have done all the hard work for us. When you adopt a grey they are house trained, crate trained, socialized, loving, have had a trips to the vet for all of their shots and their teeth cleaned, and really ready to just go home and start life with you. I have yet to find anywhere that you can adopt a dog that is that well trained and taken care of. Then after all that time invested in these dogs the kennels let them be adopted and we get all the rewards of all their hard work. That in itself shows me how much they care about these dogs.

I have read where some groups say that the racing greyhounds aren’t properly taken care of. Well I have seen greys strait from the track (my first adoption came from the track) and I have yet to see a single dog that wasn’t in GREAT physical condition come off the track, after all they are pro athletes.
JBS HighStepper

What I'm trying to say is I will continue to support racing and racing kennels and make sure to tell them THANK YOU for giving me the chance to be a part of this great breed. I want to do what ever I can to make sure racing continues because I can't see me not having retired greyhounds in my house for the rest of my life.

I hope that anyone who loves their greyhounds as much as I do would agree with me and support racing to make sure we have retired racers to bless our families (and the families that have yet to discover what we know) far into the future.

THANK YOU RACE OWNERS AND KENNELS for all you do

More Info...
This was originally posted on Its A Grey Area Greyhound Adoptions Face Book page.

Crazy Wiki
It's a Grey Area Greyhound Adoption was founded in January of 2010 by Lesley Tierney Ezkovich and Brittaney Spruill. Through our combined years of experience and a dedicated group of people to support us, we formed It's a Grey Area Greyhound Adoption Group. We are dedicated to the proper placement of the retired racing greyhound along with the formation of a fun, committed greyhound group. We are currently awaiting our 501c3 status.

Our commitment to greyhounds continues beyond the day we hand the leash to the new family. We are here for whatever an adoptive family could need. In good times and bad. We are there for the greyhounds we place, as well as those we have never met before.

Monday, March 19, 2012

Good People in Greyhound Racing

This post highlights the greyhound adoption group - Keystone Greyhounds. Diane Schadle, President of Keystone Greyhounds, presents and thanks some of the good people who are involved in greyhound racing. Contrary to the inflammatory rhetoric posted far and wide by Grey2K USA (Grey2K), rhetoric that says greyhound racing and the people involved in it - the owners, breeders & trainers - are evil, Keystone Greyhounds, an adoption group in Pennsylvania, has discovered otherwise.
By Diane Schadle

I'd like to post something positive about racing Greyhounds and the folks who take the time and patience to make them into the wonderful dogs that they are. I founded Keystone Greyhounds about 8 years ago. In the beginning, we didn't know any 'industry' folks, just got our dogs from GPA sources, not directly from owners/trainers/breeders. Through the years that has changed and I'm proud to say that most of our dogs now come from the tracks or farms. We have developed good working relationships with these folks and enjoy working with them. These folks have the best interest of their dogs at heart, believe me.

Football Phenom
Through the years I have met some outstanding people who are in the industry. I want to name just a few, so people know there are many GOOD people whose livlihood is racing Greyhounds.

Arlene and Greg Wooten, who introduced us to these wonderful dogs many years ago. It was the first of many racing kennels we were privy to see, and I was amazed at how calm and quiet and happy those dogs were.

Kristen Block, who generously donated a pup to us (Keystones Runner aka Boots) who will be running for our group, all proceeds going to Keystone. She also holds many dogs on her farm (at her expense) while they are waiting to come in to our adoption program.

Phil Harris, who trained our Boots and took the time to keep us updated on her progress.

Ron Otto, a trainer for Ward kennels, who takes the dogs to be vetted by Dr. Radcliffe at Wheeling for us, cat tests, and drives the dogs most of the way to us. Ron will hold dogs in his kennel until we have room for them.

Henry Howe, who sends us most of his retirees, and always makes a generous donation to accompany his dogs.
HWJ Inman

Dick Ciampa, an owner who gives us his retirees, and does the same.

Patti Cooley from Charter Kennels, who sends us great racers and also helps with the transport from Wheeling to Harrisburg. She always calls to see how her dogs are doing in foster homes.

David Blair, who gave us some wonderful puppies who would not have made it as racers.

DQ Williams, who opened his farm and his home to us when we were in Oklahoma.

Judy Mills, who has a farm in Abilene, where we are always welcome.....just ring the bell!

Brett and Donna Weeks who have been friends from the beginning, and have fostered for us many times, and taught us so much about the breed.

Bill and Cathie Lambert, who have sent us many wonderful dogs and allowed us to pre adopt two dogs through their Follow That Hound program.

Chris Grieb & Babydoll
Breeze, who I have never met but feel is a close friend. She works in the racing kennels and LOVES what she does.

Randy Finnegan, who has sent us a few 'prizes' including Impossible Dream and Iwantthattrophy.

Chris Grieb,who loves his Greyhounds.

There are many more, too many to mention. I've only listed a few. But the good folks in the industry are out there, they outnumber the ones who are not so caring of their dogs. We are proud to be working with people who do right by their dogs. We've developed a trust, so they will give us their dogs when they're ready to retire, knowing we respect the athletes that that are.

"The mission is the dogs, and nothing more."

Dianne Shadle
Keystone Greyhounds
www.Keystonegreys.org

A Bit About Keystone Greyhounds
Keystone Greyhounds is non-profit organization dedicated to finding responsible homes for retired racing Greyhounds. We are an all volunteer group based in South Central Pa. Our goal is to place the right hound in the right home and to promote public awareness about what excellent, loving pets these noble dogs make.

The primary purpose of Keystone Greyhounds is to find responsible loving homes for greyhounds, which fail to qualify or no longer qualify for the racetrack. KG acquaints the public with the desirability of greyhounds as pets and informs them of the availability of these dogs for adoption. We work with the greyhound industry to closely match the dogs to the adopter. Keystone Greyhounds provide pre and post adoption education and support each adoption fully. We also encourage adoption of senior and other special-needs dogs.

All donations made to Keystone Greyhounds are tax deductible. To become a member, volunteer or to contribute to Keystone Greyhounds, please contact any of the Keystone Adoption Representatives listed on the Contact Us Page.

Saturday, March 17, 2012

Project Hopeful, Racing for a Cure

Grey2K USA bullies and intimidates the Ronald McDonald House Charity
by Leslie Csokasy

Eddie aka Last Hitter
I volunteer with my ex-racer, Eddie, aka Last Hitter, at Ronald McDonald House.  Eddie is the second therapy dog I've worked with and he's pretty remarkable all the way around.  We have been going to RMHC for four years (I think).

One night I had a thought... why not have a racer run for a local RMHC charity where any earnings would be donated to the kids. If the pupper was young enough, the kids could name him and possibly see him. Once he was done racing, he could test as a therapy dog, be adopted to someone interested in continuing his mission, and visit the kids. Win for the kids, a win for the House, a win for the dog, and the racing community could embrace a charity that they believe in (we have a history of raising funds for kids). And, a little positive PR for the racing industry as a byproduct would be an added bonus.

I presented it and a lot of interest was generated. Money was raised to purchase a hound at a reduced fee, a graded dog was donated, tracks hopped on board, the therapy program was thrilled, and I had saved some funds to fly out and evaluate the potential farm pup as a therapy dog (I also work with a therapy dog certification program). We talked about it in a heated fervor online. It was a happy, exciting thing.

I put together a presentation, asked my House director for support and input. Sounded good. Everyone loves "Fast Eddie" at the House (although he was never fast...he never made it out of schooling). Networking began and some of the Houses were very interested. They do all kinds of fundraisers with poker night, horse racing, NASCAR, etc. Then, I got a phone call. 

Apparentlythey all received letters from an "advocacy" group called Grey2K that pretty much spelled out litigation, negative press, bully tactics that would be used on RMHC sponsors. One after the other, the Houses dropped their support of the project. I was put off, shut out and all doors were closed. The local House called me out, listened to my proposal and said that it was dead in the water..not because it isn't a fantastic idea, but because hate groups will use public perception as leverage and the House sponsors would dry up. I don't know if you know, but the entire RMHC runs on donations and sponsors. Families don't pay for their stays, or pay a very minimal amount. Often they live there for years. They rely on community donations. I couldn't blame them, however upset I was. I considered quitting. But there are always a few kids whose only moments that they truly sleep are when they are curled up with Eddie on that couch.
Eddie at Ronald McDonald House

The children would never get to meet THEIR greyhounds. So, for now, Last Hitter, aka Eddie aka Fast Eddie will have to do. As will the other adopted dogs making a difference out there as therapy dogs.

Here is a picture of Eddie at the House last year. (I hope it isn't too big). Some of the kids brought sticker books to show him. He ended up being a good sport and wearing a few, to their delight. The funniest thing that happened was some little girl came up to me and asked politely if she could pet my goat. It took me a few seconds to realize she meant Eddie!! He is getting a little grey in the face...

Grey2K doesn't care about the children they claim to want to fundraise for. If they did, they would have let the kids have a dog to believe in, to hope for, to love. I love my dogs and love what they can do.

Friday, March 16, 2012

Bare Lee, Another Boyfriend

Racing Greyhounds and Racing Greyhound Kennels
By Betty Zubinsky

Bare Lee Fits came into my kennel at The Woodlands with a bit of an open wound on his shoulder and a timidness that may or may not have been associated with it. He arrived with 3 of his brothers and one of his sisters, and they were very well bred. (His brother even said so. His name was Well Bread.) A mighty fine group of babies, and Craig and I set about to get them schooled on.

Bare Lee Fits
All but Bare Lee. His boo-boo needed attention before he could do much of anything. That was Craig's job. He also needed to happy up. Ah, there was my job.

Craig had seen me at work on timids before and pretty much left their happiness to me. He never said, "Hey Betty, happy up this dog", but it's what I do. So, while his brothers and sister went on to sprints and schools, Bare Lee basked in the glow of antibiotics and a life of leisure.

Hmmm.... a guy could get used to this, and he did. He also got very used to being the center of my world. As his wound healed, his confidence grew and he began to be a bouncy, happy young fella. Yup, I do love it when my dogs happy up.  Little did I know... I was creating a monster. He was literally drenched in my attention, and by the time he was well enough to go out with the rest of the boys, his enthusiasm was just about explosive.

In fairness, the whole litter was highly enthusiastic. DoughBoy (which is what I called the aforementioned Well Bread) busted 2 of my ribs with his face one day, just because he was happy to see me.  These were vibrant (and very large) boys, and while I wasn't expecting it from DoughBoy, I was used to catching Bare Lee in midair when he launched his enormous self at me.

I learned a lot about doggie mentality with Bare Lee.  My first concern is (and should be) the safety of the whole kennel, so it seemed right and proper to hurry this brute to bed as quickly as possible before he hurt anybody. Three days of that, and I had an unhappy dog again.  Damn.

The Kennel Boyfriend is not allowed to pounce me. I'm not very big and being pounced can hurt me badly, which we learned from the busted ribs incident. But my dog was unhappy, and I just can't have that.  OK honey, you can pounce me. But please don't damage me, and I'll let you play if you keep your feet on the floor most of the time. Deal?

Apparently, it was an acceptable arrangement and my handsome spotty boy happied right back up. Then, of course, there was the issue with his leash manners.

Uhm... he had none.  Absolute zero.  I know without a doubt that Craig stuck me with Bare Lee every chance he got, and he was certainly within his rights to do it. I had made this heathen, and he was mine to tame... if taming could be accomplished. So there I'd be with my assortment of dogs to weigh in, and one of them would invariably be Bare Lee.

WAHOOOIE!!!!!  WHAT'S THAT?  WHAT'S THAT?  WHAT'S THAT? LET'S GO OVER THERE! AND THERE AND THERE AND THERE!  KEEP UP, DAMMIT! AREN'T GUM WRAPPERS FUNNY? WHAT'S THAT? HEY A SHRUBBERY!!!!!!!  I GOTTA PEE!!!  I GOTTA PEE NOW!  A TOAD!!! RIGHT THERE WHERE I DON'T WANT TO PEE ANYMORE!!! HOW COOL IS THAT? IT JUMPS, IT JUMPS, IT JUMPS... IT'S BORING.  OOOH, THERE'S A PERSON WHO WANTS ME. WHY'S HE WALKING AWAY? I CAN CATCH HIM!

Bare Lee dragged me everywhere.  I'm thankful for fences, because without them, I have to believe I'd have been carried off to some final frontier. Or an asylum. But I loved that dog.

For all his whirlwind joie de vivre, my Bare Lee wasn't a stellar performer.    We'll recall here that Boyfriend-ness doesn't require this. The too bad part, of course, is that such a beastie is likely to go race someplace else. And, so it happened with Bare Lee.  I kissed his sweet head, told him to be a good boy, knew that he would ignore this advice completely, and watched the hauler carry him away.

The empty spot he left in the kennel was quickly gobbled up, and my hands were busy with the new arrivals. Beauties, each and all, with quirks and sillies and needs that I could fill.  Bare Lee, my darling heathen, didn't need me anymore... or did he?

On a whim, several weeks later, I googled him, just to see if there was anything to see.  I had no idea where he'd gone, or if he was even still racing. And I do lousy searches. There would be nothing, I was sure of it. And I hit the enter key.

I shall never doubt Google again.

I found my Bare Lee at his new racing venue, where it appeared that he was in "rest mode", and sent a screaming message to a friend, who loved him too.  "I FOUND BARE LEE!!!!!" I didn't know if she was even home.  in an instant, she responded, "WHERE?????"  I gave her everything I had (which wasn't a lot) and she worked her end.  Neither of us was in a position to adopt him, we were both hundreds of miles from him, but we were hell bent to get his local adoption group interested in him.  Oh please, oh please....

I don't know what strings were pulled, what promises made, and I really don't care....  because a few days later, I got an email from a woman I didn't know.  His brand new foster mommy declared that she was delighted with him. "He has one speed, and no brakes!"  Taht's my boy, alright. I apologized for his terrible manners. She forgave me. "Oh no, he's wonderful! Don't you dare be sorry!"  And in the weeks that followed, she shared his adventures with me.  I clung fiercely to every word, laughed my ass off and cried happy tears. My sweetie boy was in the very best of hands.  And then...

"He's adopted!!! They love him to bits!"  And she directed me to his adoption page, where his smiling happy family surrounded him in a photo.

My Bare Lee.  In the arms of people who loved him.

It's everything.


Reprinted courtesy of All About Greyhounds.

Thursday, March 15, 2012

Grey2K - Lies & Trolls

Grey2K USA (Grey2K) Lies and Trolls
By Elaine Summerhill

Well, I tired of playing with the troll, Eric McDonald (http://tinyurl.com/7uxpgnd). I find him to be boorish and that is being kind. He is typical of those involved in the animal rights movement - loud, grating, strident, and uncivil. He is, as my dear departed mother would say, "crude, rude & socially unacceptable" and my mom was from the 'wrong side of the tracks'!

In response to McDonald's latest diatribe to a comment of mine...
Dated: March 15, 2012

Eric McDonald - I have no questions for you because you have no idea about that of which you speak. You are truly ignorant on the subject of greyhounds and greyhound racing. Perhaps, when you decide to grow up and be an adult, you will be worth my time and effort, but until then, you are not. You are close minded and only wish to believe rhetoric spouted by a so called "advocacy" group that does nothing for greyhounds - that provides no direct services, but yet they take a good 23% of the donations for their own salaries.

Also, Grey2K USA supports at least one board member, Karyn Zoldan, who has made racist & bigoted statements on public forums, i.e., "middle class, educated white people do not go to bet on the dogs" and "...it looks like Auschwitz" (a comparison of a greyhound kennel to the notorious Nazi death camp where millions died). While it is true that her statements were removed from the forum, upper management (Carey Theil and Christine Dorchak) at Grey2K have not stepped up to the plate to either condemn or apologize for those statements.

Regardless of one's position on racing, I strongly urge people to donate to their local greyhound adoption group or to their local humane society. To donate to groups such as HSUS, PeTA, and Grey2K is to put money in the pockets of people who do nothing for the animals. It is a well known fact that PeTA kills pets with more than a 90% euthanization rate for animals which are turned into them for rehoming. Grey2K is associated with the domestic terrorist group, ALF (Animal Liberation Front) and Ms. Dorchak was a keynote speaker at an ALF event. HSUS is a lobbying group looking to ban pet ownership, among other things.

I've been in the business (and it is a business) of finding homes for retired greyhounds since the mid-1990's (1995). In that time, I've gone from being anti-racing to being supportive of the racing people who do it right. I've learned a great deal about this breed, including that you cannot make a greyhound race. They race regardless.  it is part of their psyche... their being.  It is unfortunate, but sometimes greyhounds get hurt while racing. Even so, a statistical analysis of those injuries show an injury rate of less than 1%. The injury rate (all injuries) is 0.03%. That is an irrefutable fact or, if you prefer, an incontrovertible fact - one that cannot be disputed, cannot be argued, cannot be contested. It is a fact. No matter how much Eric McDonald screams, whines & cries... only 0.03% of dogs are injured in greyhound racing. I would venture to guess that that is a great deal less than in the general greyhound pet population, where I'm constantly seeing requests for help because a dog has been injured in some manner in the backyard or on a walk.

Do bad people exist in greyhound racing?  Of course they do. However, they exist in all walks of life: education, the workplace, and in parenting. Bad people are a fact of life. Greyhound racing needs to be commended because they have been working and are continuing to remove the bad people from the sport. Greyhound racing people are continuing to work to put every last adoptable greyhound into pet homes. Much has changed within greyhound racing and the people who are now involved consider it their duty to do the best they can - every step of the way from whelping to death. They are there for the adopters, should the adopters contact them. It is sad that many AR groups REFUSE to pass on the racing owner's contact info or to even tell the adopters that they can contact the owner. They REFUSE to tell the adopters about having their dogs pet registered with the NGA. Instead, they tell people that they "saved" the dogs, spirited them away and that if they contact the racing people, the racing people will take the dogs away.  They lie...

Please visit All About Greyhounds and/or Grey2K Lies for more info. (end reply)

I'd like to add, at this time, Mr. McDonald has received numerous offers from racing folk to visit a track, a kennel, a farm to discover greyhound racing for himself. He has not accepted any of them. If things were as bad as he believes and states, I would think he'd be quick to go so he could take photographs to promote his allegations, so he could REPORT the racing folks to the proper authorities.  Instead, he'd rather slander & libel them in public forums with no proof what-so-ever.

I ask people to please decide for yourself. If you have the opportunity, please visit a greyhound kennel and meet those deeply involved with this breed. I did and, as stated, I went from being an anti-racing supporter to being a supporter of people doing racing the right way. I am not the only, former anti-racing person out there who has changed their beliefs. There are a LOT of us and, funny thing, most of us are or have been involved deeply and for many years in greyhound adoption. Go figure... I hope some of the former "anti's" read this post and comment.

Elaine

PS - I truly believe that Eric McDonald and Eric Jackson, Grey2K Board Member, are one in the same. I suspect if you read their posts often enough, you would probably come to the same conclusion.