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From  Issue
26 May 2002
Mass Greyhound Slaughter Makes News

By Karen Dawn - [email protected] 

A grisly story broke in the Associated Press on Wednesday and appeared on news networks and in newspapers throughout the country on Thursday, May 23. The remains of two to three thousand greyhounds have been found on a farm in Alabama, ten miles from Florida's Pensacola Racing Track. Farm owner Robert Rhodes has been arrested on three counts of animal cruelty.

The story was on the front page of the Thursday, May 23 Miami Herald. You can read it on line at:

Writers Elinor J. Brecher and Frank Carlson tell us:
"The case is bound to raise the profile of the greyhound rescue movement, especially active in Florida, with its 16 tracks."

They write that about 12,000 greyhounds get rescued every year, but that according to the Greyhound Protection League, 20,000 more, "disappear year after year," including 7,000 destroyed as puppies "if they don't show promise."

Rhodes has said that he shot the dogs in the brain and that they did not suffer. The Miami Herald article mentions that the examiner said that three dogs had entry wounds "inconsistent with being shot in the brain, more like the mouth or neck." Unfortunately this could give the impression that it was three out of the thousands or three of the forty whose remains have been dug up. However the articles in the New York Times, Chicago Tribune and elsewhere clarify the issue. The Associated Press article in the Chicago Tribune tells us,

"David Whetstone, Baldwin County district attorney, said autopsies of four dogs found that only one had been shot cleanly through the brain. The others received bullet wounds through the neck and elsewhere, indicating they suffered before dying."

The Chicago Tribune article ("3,000 Greyhounds Found Dead," May 23, page 17) ends with information we are glad to have the public learn:

"A small percentage of greyhounds are adopted after years on the tracks. Many more are killed, sold for research or shipped to tracks in foreign countries, according to the Humane Society."

You can read the Chicago Tribune story on line at:
(You may have to register at the site - it is simple and free.)

Without doubt the most descriptive and thus stomach turning version of the story appears in the New York Times. The story by David Halbfinger, "Dismal End for Race Dogs" (page A20) ends with this haunting description:

"Tonight, as Mr. Rhodes awaited a bond hearing, his property and his live animals were left to themselves. Past his trailer, where a phone inside rang steadily, past the sheds where about a dozen surviving greyhounds stirred in their cages at a visitor's footsteps, past the gate that kept 22 goats from running free, a field opened wide before a piny woods. "Off to the right were what looked to be half a dozen sand traps. But up close, the sand revealed bits and pieces of animal bones. In one, the dirt was fresh, the bones were not yet bleached white, and the stench was still drawing swarms of giant flies."

You can read the whole piece on the web at:
(The New York Times also requires registration - free.)

The story also made the Deseret Sun in Utah, the Commercial Appeal in Tennessee, The Record in New Jersey, and New York Newsday.

In Canada it appeared in the Calgary Herald, the Edmonton Journal, The Leader Post, The Montreal Gazette The Ottawa Citizen.

This story opens the door for letters to the editor driving home a point which is probably news to the general public - animal racing is not benign. You can focus only on greyhounds or widen your argument. Earlier this month, during the week of the Kentucky Derby, NBC nightly news aired a piece on the fate of race horses:

"In the bluegrass pastures of Kentucky, with each new thoroughbred foal, a question: Will this one be the next Derby winner? Or end up as a dinner entree in a restaurant in Germany? Thirty-three thousand thoroughbreds are born every year. Only a third make it to the racetrack, and of that, only 20 will hear the call to run the most exciting two minutes in sports.... It's the dark side of racing. Of the 62,000 horses slaughtered last year, 7,000 were thoroughbreds."

Unwanted Iditarod dogs suffer a similar fate.

If you live in a state where greyhound, (or any other racing) is prevalent, I urge you to write a letter to your editor discussing the cruelty. You can find out more about the issue, including how you can be involved in helping to end this outdated form of entertainment from Grey 2K at . If you need help finding the email address for a letter to the editor of your paper, let me know and I will help if I can.

I am wary of encouraging letters to the New York Times since Grey 2K has released an alert on that article, including a sample letter, and I suspect the paper has been bombarded with letters that are similar in appearance. New Yorkers may want to write to New York Newsday. That paper takes letters at: 

Floridians can write to the Miami Herald at: [email protected] 

Those from Illinois can write to the Chicago Tribune at:[email protected] 

Letters to the Editor must include your name, address and telephone number.

Note: If you forward this alert, please do not attach a sample letter. Quantity is not the most important factor with regard to letters to the editor. The process is entirely different from letters to legislators or for commercial campaigns. Most of us can find the time to put a couple of lines together (shorter letters are more likely to be published) but those who can't find the time needn't send anything - sending a form letter will detract from the original efforts of others. No letter which shares even one sentence in common with other letters that have been received by a paper is likely to be printed since newspapers are looking for original responses from their readers. Most papers will even call you before they print your letter to make sure that you are the writer and that the letter has not been published elsewhere.

Yours and the animals',
Karen Dawn

(DawnWatch is an animal advocacy media watch that looks at animal issues in the media and facilitates one-click responses to the relevant media outlets. You can learn more about it at To subscribe to DawnWatch, email [email protected] and tell me you'd like to receive alerts. If at any time you find DawnWatch is not for you, just let me know via email and I'll take you off the subscriber list immediately. If you forward or reprint DawnWatch alerts, please do so unedited and include this tag line.)

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