UPDATE: More Arrests Made In Case Of Thousands Of Slain Greyhounds
- Source: The Humane Society of the United States
MORE ARRESTS MADE IN CASE OF THOUSANDS OF SLAIN GREYHOUNDS
The Humane Society of the United States Says Dogs' Deaths Indicative of Inherent Cruelties in Greyhound Racing Industry
WASHINGTON (November 8, 2002) - As the announcement came that three more indictments were handed down in the gruesome case of the nearly 2,000 greyhound dogs found shot to death on the property of Alabama resident Robert Rhodes in May, The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) is pointing to this case as evidence of the inherent cruelty of the greyhound racing industry and is calling on states that subsidize this dying sport to end the handouts.
Officials in Baldwin County Alabama announced yesterday that individuals from three different dog racing tracks in Florida had been arrested in recent weeks. Ursula O'Donnell, Paul Discolo Jr. and John W. Smith face felony animal cruelty charges in the case. Police are seeking a fourth suspect, according to Associated Press reports.
"We commend the Baldwin County prosecutors and investigators for following up on their initial arrest and pursuing this matter across state lines," said Martha C. Armstrong, HSUS Senior Vice President for Companion Animals and Equine Protection. "We look forward to an aggressive prosecution of these charges and a meaningful sentence, including prison time, for all who are guilty of taking these poor dogs to their cruel deaths."
In May, Alabama authorities arrested Robert Rhodes after discovering the remains of as many as 2,000 ex-racing greyhounds on his 18-acre farm. Rhodes, who also operated a racing greyhound kennel, admitted that for $10 each, he shot and killed shooting dogs brought to him by greyhound trainers from the Pensacola Greyhound Park. Investigators said that some of the dogs may not have died instantly and could have been struggling for survival in the corpse-laden pit where they were thrown after being shot. Rhodes was charged with three separate felonies for his role as executioner.
"These new arrests demonstrate that the 'sport' itself is inherently cruel," said Brian Sodergren, companion animals issues specialist for The HSUS. "The industry breeds thousands of surplus dogs every year in the effort to produce 'winners' and coldly kills or discards the dogs that don't make it. This is more than just a case of a few bad apples. The industry itself is rotten at the core."
The greyhound industry breeds tens of thousands of dogs every year. While some race for several years, many more aren't fast enough to compete. A small percentage of greyhounds are adopted, but many more are killed, sold for research, or sent to overseas tracks where conditions are far worse than in the United States. In 2000, an estimated 19,000 greyhounds were
The public is becoming increasingly aware of the cruelties involved in greyhound racing and is voting with their wallets. Attendance at tracks is dwindling nationwide, and during the 1990's the total amount wagered on greyhound racing declined by a staggering 45 percent. Despite the public's rejection of the industry, some states continue to prop up the industry with subsidies.
Other states, however, are passing legislation to halt the growth of the industry. Legislation that would have legalized slot machines at dog racing tracks was recently defeated in Arizona, Florida, New Hampshire, Massachusetts, and Kansas. The HSUS has played a central role in such efforts, helping to defeat legislation in Florida that would have allowed high stakes poker at dog tracks and successfully arguing to the Florida Supreme Court that a ballot initiative that would have helped support the industry would have been unconstitutional.
"The public knows that those in the industry aren't concerned with the well-being of the dogs. They exploit these animals for profit and cruelly dispose of them when they can no longer make money from them," said Armstrong. "It's time lawmakers in other states end support and allow the industry to die a natural death, a luxury not afforded many racing greyhounds."
The Humane Society of the United States is the nation's largest animal protection organization with more than seven million members and constituents. The HSUS is dedicated to protecting all animals through legislation, education, investigation, litigation, advocacy and fieldwork. The HSUS has programs protecting wildlife, companion animals, farm animals and animals in research. The HSUS is headquartered in Washington, DC and has 10 regional offices. For more information on First Strike and other HSUS issues, visit The HSUS on the Web at www.hsus.org .
"Live in peace with the animals. Animals bring love to our hearts, and warmth to our souls."
"He who is cruel to animals becomes hard also in his dealings with men. We can judge the heart of a man by his treatment of animals." Immanuel Kant
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