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Full Speed Ahead to Election Day – Why You Should Vote YES on Amendment 13

As many of you may have realized, Friends of Greyhounds is fully supporting the Protect Dogs movement along with Grey2K and for the sake of these gentle dogs, we hope that the Florida election process will do away with greyhound racing. For many years FoG needed to remain “neutral” or we could not have gotten 2000 dogs out of the kennels and into homes. I always tried to tell people that we had to have a working relationship with the tracks and kennels in order to get the dogs to your homes. If you are going to be a bridge, you have to have a foot in both worlds. But that time has passed.

I am writing to ask each and every one of you to actively support the effort to end greyhound racing. Vote YES on Amendment 13. But please don’t stop there. It’s important that those of us who love these dogs and this breed make it known that these are gentle creatures who have been used and abused and it needs to stop. We need to make our neighbors, our friends and our co-workers understand how important this vote is.

Yes, there is much less racing than years ago but dogs are still being over bred to find the fastest dog to race and make money. The extra ones are discarded and once he’s slowed down, injured or killed, that fast one is discarded, too. Don’t fool yourself that they just “retire” the dog or every dogracing farm would have thousands of unproductive retirees to feed! They only need a few dogs to keep the kennels supplied. One female can produce a whole lot of puppies to pick from. Most greyhound litters are 7 to 12 puppies. The fast ones get to be racing dogs. The old saying in greyhound racing is that there are no breeding farms without a lake. (think your worst thoughts and you’ll be right) This is a disgusting industry. I am appealing to each of you to talk to the people on your mailing list. And then ask them to talk to the people on their mailing lists!!

This is our chance for Florida Voters to tell Tallahassee that we do not condone this treatment of these gentle, trusting dogs. Election day is November 6th but early voting starts October 22nd so please get busy making people aware of the true nature of the racing industry. These days the tracks, the dog owners and the breeders know that the industry is dying. They are making less money which means the dogs’ care is worse than ever. The dogs NEED your support.

Let’s review a few things, starting with a stroll down memory lane to a little something called “The Dasenbrock Kennel.”

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Some of you remember back in 2008 when we took over the Dasenbrock racing kennel after 60 dogs had been abandoned in there. The trainer had immigration problems and the helper hadn’t been paid so they both disappeared. FoG already had one 40-dog kennel nearby but our staff and volunteers stepped forward. The “D Kennel Dogs” were filthy, starved for days and a number had terrible, mostly untreated, injuries. The smell in the kennel was overpowering as the dogs had not been let out for some time. They were unbelievably loaded with ticks, several had untreated injuries, most were terribly hungry and emotionally despondent. They had given up. Even the full time kennel people from the compound knew this was a crisis and several had tried to help out but they had their own problems. So they did not fight us when we stepped in and took over.

The first day, Friday, was spent with evaluation, gathering food and supplies, identifying dogs and reaching out to volunteers and we promised them things would get better. We emailed our adopters and friends and response was overwhelming. They gave their time and brought supplies. Dr. Willie covered Welleby vet’s work and Dr. Karen Burlone spent her weekend with us.

Some 70 volunteers worked for two long hard days to clean and care for those dogs. They were washed, evaluated by the vet, given immunizations, meds, food and water, soft blankets and lots and lots of love. Volunteers literally picked ticks off of these dogs for hours. They worked in teams of three so that they could scrub the dog while someone loved and calmed the dog and the third person was supposed to be on break. The idea was that our volunteers would rotate to step away from the stress and grief of working with these filthy, injured, sad dogs. But that didn’t work well. No one was willing to take a break!

The compound manager arranged for us to use an exta kennel building. We moved dogs from the dirty kennel to the bathing areas (the road and parking lot) and then to the clean kennel. Clean dogs were thoroughly inspected by Lee Sweeney, our kennel manager, so that no sneaky ticks moved into the clean kennel. Then they were evaluated by Dr. B and one by one, they settled into a clean kennel with a clean carpet and even – wonder of wonders – a toy and a cookie. Some of them had no idea what the toy was. One of my fondest memories is of walking into the new kennel and hearing the tentative squeaks from a dog that just figured out that it was now okay to play!!

On Sunday, the second washing day, another vet came by to visit. He’d heard what was going on and wanted to see it for himself. He was a young man who had just graduated from vet school and had been working evenings at the track for a couple months while he looked for a permanent job. The track is required to have a vet onsite during racing. We told him what we were doing and I took him through our kennels. We had set aside one dog that had a huge blue cast on her leg. Her name was NK Joan and we were leaving her for last as we needed to be extra careful not to wet or mess up that cast. Joan had been pulling the stuffing out from inside of it and working to get it off but with no luck -yet.

It turned out this young vet had been the track vet that night Joan had been hurt and he had put the blue wrap on. He was furious that the trainer had not even taken her for x-rays and proper treatment. After all the other dogs were washed, I had the honor of cutting off that blue wrap. Volunteers helped Joan balance with a towel around her belly as she took her first tentative steps. Luckily, his setting had been right on the money and Joan’s leg was “okay”. (She limped a bit from then on but she had a good home, soft beds and a loving mom.) After that hard and depressing day, there wasn’t a dry eye around. In those two days, we had documented, cleaned, vetted and reassured every dog in that filthy kennel. The new kennel wasn’t pretty but it was clean and so were the dogs.

Volunteers continued to help with the second kennel and of course some of you fell in love with your D-Kennel dogs and adopted them. I spent hours and hours getting releases from owners so that we could adopt out the abandoned dogs. That was a lesson, too. I reached owners of record who swore to me that they had not owned a dog in years. So who’s dog was it? Ours now! We took over those dogs and the State inspectors just looked the other way. Yes, I spoke with a few caring owners but many were more worried about their checks from the tracks!

The track, working with the dog owners and the state inspectors, pulled half a dozen of our dogs back into the racing kennels. We fought it tooth and claw but I couldn’t fight the state. As it turned out, every one of those dogs just wouldn’t run competitively any longer. The trainers kept their word and gave them back to us and eventually we were able to get all of the D Kennel dogs out to homes. Many were adopted locally and some were driven to other states. FoG drove our “D dogs” to greyhound groups in Georgia, Pennsylvania, Delaware, Tennessee and probably other places I have forgotten! It was a busy time.

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“D” Kennel was one horrible situation and the outcome was lucky and wonderful but it should not have happened in the first place! And we know that this was not the first or last time that dogs were abandoned in kennels. The industry has a lot of skeletons in its closets!! Attached is a draft copy of Dr. Karen Burlone’s evaluation of the dogs. The original, signed copy was sent to the State Inspector who was heading the investigation into D Kennel. I had taken the inspectors through the kennel myself. I was astonished at how little they knew about the dogs, the kennels, and how the racing industry operates. They didn’t understand how we knew who each individual dog was, his name, age, who his owner and trainers were, when and where he raced and even what he used to weigh before he was found starving in this kennel. They didn’t understand about tattoos and had never looked at the databases. They were the inspectors but they admitted that they had NO TRAINING!! So the dogs are caught in the middle. If you think it’s any better now, you are mistaken. The D-Kennel situation was in 2008. There have been and still are similar situations on the Florida tracks.

What should YOU do???? Send a link to this to your friends so they know just one of the hundreds of greyhound stories that are out there. Make sure YOU vote YES on Amendment 13 and make sure your friends know how important their vote on this amendment really is.

There are many horror stories out there because this breed is gentle and wants so much to please their owners that they will even put themselves in peril. Please vote for Greyhound Racing to END!! Vote YES on Amendment 13 and please explain to other people why you know that racing needs to end. If we can each make a dozen people aware of the truths behind this horrific “sport”, and that dozen can each tell another dozen, we could see the end of greyhound racing.

Oops – PS – There is one more argument that I have heard from greyhound adopters that I need to address – – They tell me that “if there is no racing, we won’t be able to get greyhounds!” Please remember that greyhounds are the oldest pure breed in history. They were hunters with the Egyptians, guardians of the children for the Bedouins, and show dogs for the British nobility among their other callings. And we still have greyhounds. They have 7 to 12 in a litter. We just need to provide a better world for the parents and the pups.

Help your friends get to the polls. This is the best chance we have to stop the over-breeding and murder of these gentle creatures!

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Many dogs had bare haunches rubbed raw on the wires trying to scratch off the ticks. Gouges from broken kennel wires were common. Many dogs had ear canals just packed with ticks and like this one, they were even hatching their babies in there! Almost all of the dogs had bare patches from dirty & rough collars.

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This guy’s tail had been broken for weeks. And of course the teeth were awful.

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Volunteers were the key to this project’s success. Adopters brought friends, neighbors and even ex-wives! Volunteers pulled off ticks one at a time and drowned them in cups of alcohol. This is the gallon pickle jar where they dumped the dead ticks taken from the dogs!

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NK Joan had been injured at the track and just left in a kennel. Joan’s cast is removed, her first timid steps.

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The first clean dog goes into the new, clean kennel. Happy dogs playing in the clean sand and sleeping in the new clean kennel.

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Dr. Burlone was on her feet for two long days working with our dogs. Our Hero!

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This is the rough draft of the letter from Dr. Burlone to the Florida State Parimutuel Wagering Officer.