Monday, June 17, 2013


As readers of Scission know by now, my best friend is an ex-racing greyhound.  Hawk is our third greyhound and we have loved each of these wonderful dogs with all our hearts.  As a result, I try to dedicate a Scission periodically  to the fight against the greyhound racing industry and the abuse of these fine animals.

Today we go to West Virginia which it seems has one of the worse records in this whole sad industry.  The Charleston Daily Mail report on June 13:

The Daily Mail's Dave Boucher reported June 5 that the state racing commission refused to provide details about three men disciplined for abuse or neglect of racing greyhounds.

In response, Executive Director Carey Thiel of the greyhound protection group GREY2K USA wrote that West Virginia's policy makes it an outlier among states that permit greyhound racing.

On the 5th of June the Daily Mirror had reported:

The three men are James Bloom, James Grace and Christopher Bever. Grace and Bever lost their operating permits, while Bloom's permit was suspended for six months, according to the rulings.

The rulings state Bloom, Grace and Bever abused, neglected or generally mistreated dogs but provide no further details about the actual transgressions. The racing commission provided the rulings on Bloom and Grace in response to a Freedom of Information Act request made by the Daily Mail.

It seems that in West Virginia the judge panels at the tracks are not allowed to speak about incidents of abuse and about what actions have been taken.

Thiel said GREY2K has sought and received 619 board of judges' rulings from West Virginia tracks since 2007. More than 98 percent contained few or no details about the incidents that led to the rulings.

As Thiel pointed out, failure to document the disposition of neglect or cruelty cases could hamper attempts at prosecution under the state's anti-cruelty law. It also prevents regulators in other states from getting information about people who seek greyhound trainer's licenses.

Eventually, due to the diligent work of Grey2K and the follow up of the Daily Mirror the Racing Commission released some details.

 Two men recently punished by the state racing commission denied proper treatment to a greyhound with a broken leg, and a third man hit another dog, according to newly released information.

The reality is that no matter how transparent the industry is or becomes, the bottom line is that as long as their is greyhound racing there will continue to be cruelty, abuse, and death. 

One gristly outcome of greyhound racing is what sometimes happens when the dogs come in contact with the lure they are chasing.  The dogs are electrocuted and die.

The Ledger, a Florida newspaper,  reports:

Perhaps these fatalities are deemed too rare — headlines tend to refer to them as freak accidents — to drive reforms. But news reports over the past decade indicate they've happened at several dog tracks in Florida and across the nation.

The Sarasota Kennel Club is among them, apparently.

The Sarasota Herald-Tribune reports that electrocution is the presumed cause of a greyhound death that occurred during a February race there. The month before, another greyhound died during a race — the cause was not determined but electrocution was considered a possibility.

Elsewhere, news reports cite cases in which greyhounds were killed by contact with track wiring or by impact in collisions with the lures.

These deaths are disturbing, in part because they involve equipment to which greyhounds are frequently exposed during their racing careers.

Of course, electrocution is only one danger of the race itself (note that I am not even discussing here the cruel treatment and abuse these dogs receive off the track and in the kennels and training facilities).   The Ledger continues:

Down on the track, meanwhile, dogs hurtle through their own game of chance — a high-speed one in which serious muscle and bone injuries are not uncommon. Often these stem from dogs bumping into each other as they rush around the curves.

Whitney, our second greyhound friend, came to us with her leg in a cast as a result of injuries suffered in her last race.  Sasha our first greyhound had the scars to prove he had been out on the track.  Fortunately, Hawk, our current friend got out before his first race because he simply wouldn't chase that damn electronic "rabbit," nor would he run straight.  He preferred to meander.  Smart guy... 

I leave you with this news report from WTAE in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on injuries and deaths at West Virginia tracks.  I apologize for the commercials, but the video is worth watching.

Action News investigation reveals greyhound injuries, deaths at W.Va. racetrack

UPDATED 8:08 AM EDT May 17, 2013

Read more:

The following is from the Charleston Daily Mail on June 12th.

Racing commission releases case details
by Dave Boucher Daily Mail Capitol Reporter

Two men recently punished by the state racing commission denied proper treatment to a greyhound with a broken leg, and a third man hit another dog, according to newly released information.

The West Virginia Racing Commission released the new information Monday.

The Daily Mail reported June 5 that the Wheeling Island racetrack board of judges punished James Bloom, James Grace and Christopher Bever for separate incidents of greyhound abuse or neglect.

Grace and Bever lost their trainer's permits, while Bloom's permit was suspended for six months.

The commission originally confirmed the punishments for the three men but did not provide any details about their cases in response to a Freedom of Information Act request made by the Daily Mail.

The requests asked for "all supplemental materials, including witness statements," relating to the incidents that led to the punishment. On Monday, the racing commission provided more information about the cases.

The racing commission misunderstood the request, said Executive Director Jon Amores.

"Once it was clear on what was being requested, we complied," Amores said. "We certainly have the documents available, and make them available."

The documents consist almost entirely of statements from witnesses, investigators and those involved in the incidents.

On March 7 , racing commission veterinarian Lori Bohenko and Wheeling Island director of racing Jane Horvath inspected Cardinal Kennel, according to an incident report. They visited the compound, located in the Brooke County town of Beech Bottom, because Bohenko reportedly received an anonymous tip that an injured dog was not receiving treatment.

In her report, Bohenko said the first thing they noticed was the smell of urine.

"Upon arrival, I began choking so badly that even my eyes were watering,"Horvath wrote in her report.

"When I composed myself, I realized that it was a strong odor of urine that had affected me."

Grace was the kennel manager and Bloom was the trainer of record for the Beech Bottom location of the Cardinal Kennel, according to a statement from kennel owner Roberty Mackey. Grace, Bloom and Mackey were not at the kennel the morning Bohenko and Horvath came forthe inspection.

They asked another employee to show them "Kiowa Dutch Girl," a dog they believed to be injured. Bohenko said the female dog had an obvious injury to her right hind leg: She couldn't put any weight on the swollen limb.

"Even with my untrained eye, it was very noticeable that she had a severely swollen leg - even up into her hip,"Horvath wrote.
The kennel worker escorting Bohenko and Horvath said the dog was receiving only aspirin for the injury and Grace had told him not to take the dog to the vet.

In a sworn statement, Grace said when he first saw the dog, it didn't appear that she was in any kind of distress and swelling was minimal. 

However, he goes on to say he knew the leg could have been broken.
Both he and Bloom decided not to take the dog to the vet because they thought it would be too expensive to treat the injury and would cause the vet to put her to sleep.

"I've been working with greyhounds for 35 years, and I've seen many breaks over the years where dogs were not taken to the vet and they healed naturally (and) given away as pets," Grace said in the statement.

In his own statement, Bloom says Grace told them to let the dog heal on her own.

"I told him that I thought she should go to the vet. Her leg was bleeding, dangling, she couldn't put weight on it," Bloom said.

"It looked broken, she was wobbly, she'd try but she couldn't."
Bloom also told investigators Grace gave him a statement and told him to provide that as his own statement when asked by investigators.

A different kennel worker told investigators she and another worker were upset that Grace and Bloom didn't take the dog to the vet. She also said Grace told her not to make a statement to investigators until he spoke with his lawyer.

Bohenko told the kennel worker to take the dog to the vet. Mackey told investigators Grace called him after Bohenko left and said she was wrong. Mackey denied accusations that he was told about the injury when it happened, and said he fired both Grace and Bloom.

He also said he ordered the cleaning of the kennel. Horvath checked the kennel 15 days after her initial report and said it was in much better shape.

Amores said Tuesday that Bohenko helped coordinate treatment for the injured greyhound, something Bohenko isn't required to do. The dog made a full recovery and was recently adopted as a pet, Amores said.

In the unrelated Bever case, Bever is accused of hitting and jerking greyhounds while waiting to weigh them in before a race.

Video of the room where people are waiting to weigh in their dogs shows a man jerk on the leash of dogs and hit two greyhounds.

Richard Brehm, the presiding judge on the board of judges at Wheeling Island, said in a report that the man was Bever. Jason Marshall, an investigator with the West Virginia Lottery Investigation Office, also wrote in a report that the video shows Bever hitting two dogs.

Horvath said she saw Bever jerk and hit the dogs. She reported walking over and telling another trainer to help Bever control the situation. Bever then allegedly made inappropriate comments to Horvath.

Horvath asked Brehm and Bohneko to review video of the incident. According to Horvath's report, both agreed Bever's actions were not acceptable. Brehm asked Bever to leave, leading to a "verbal altercation." Although Brehm called the Wheeling Police Department, Bever was escorted off the property by racetrack security without incident, according to another report from a different inspector.

In addition to Horvath's report, there are five signed statements from witnesses who said they saw Bever hit the dogs.

Some initial information provided about the incidents came from GREY2KUSA, a national organization advocating for the end of greyhound racing. Carey Theil, Grey2K executive director, applauded the commission for punishing the offenders and releasing more information about the events.

"However, there is more that needs to be done. These cases should be referred to Ohio County Prosecuting Attorney Scott Smith for possible charges under the anti-cruelty law," Theil said in an email.

"Finally, the Commission should streamline its rulings so that more information is publicly released, and greyhound cruelty cases are routinely referred to law enforcement."

Amores said the commission would make any decisions about referrals to law enforcement. Attempts to contact the trainers or kennels were unsuccessful.

Contact writer Dave Boucher at 304-348-4843 or Follow him at


Jeff said...

Most telling of all is the kennel manager's sworn statement:

"I've been working with greyhounds for 35 years, and I've seen many breaks over the years where dogs were not taken to the vet and they healed naturally (and) given away as pets."

This astonishing admission attests to the widespread neglect throughout the industry of greyhounds who suffer painful injuries and receive no veterinary treatment for them. Once the dog is no longer a potential source of income the trainers don't want to spend money on it.

It also explains why so many adopted ex-racers are found to have sustained bone fractures that never healed properly.

Oread Daily said...

and then there is the whole issue of bone cancer. Two of our greyhounds have already died of it. It is the biggest killer of racing greyhounds, yet is virtually unheard of amongst AKC greyhounds...HELLO