Live lure training or baiting, also called "blooding," refers to the use of small animals to excite and enhance a chase instinct in young greyhounds. Typically, screaming animals are dangled before greyhounds, dragged in front of them on ropes, or simply set loose to be attacked. Innocent animals, most commonly rabbits, possums and baby pigs, often suffer cruel and miserable deaths.
This sickening activity has been outlawed in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. However, because of the insular nature of the greyhound industry, live lure training is extremely difficult to find and prevent.
In Kansas, our investigators filmed the notorious Ursula Abbie O’Donnell live baiting at least nine greyhounds on her farm located just two miles away from the National Greyhound Association headquarters in Abilene. Ms. O’Donnell is a longtime greyhound breeder and has a particularly corrupt history. She was arrested in 2002 for felony animal cruelty after being implicated in a scheme to kill thousands of unwanted racing dogs by gunshot on an Alabama farm. In the years since, she has been found with drug-positive dogs multiple times, has paid a substantial fine, but still retains her license in the states of Florida and perhaps West Virginia. The NGA has taken no public action against her at any time.
In June and July 2020, a surveillance operation by GREY2K USA revealed evidence of live lure training in Elgin, Texas. Activities appeared to be orchestrated by third generation greyhound breeder Tori Michelle Shepherd, whose social media commentary reads that she learned how to train greyhounds from her grandfather. Dozens of dogs were encouraged to chase, pin and maul their prey. The Shepherd farm breeds and trains dogs for use in racing all across the country, including West Virginia and Florida. Ms. Shepherd's namesake "Torrington" is one of several dogs owned by Byron Jay Childs, a member of the board of directors of the National Greyhound Association. GREY2K USA filed complaints with the U.S. Attorney for the Western District of Texas and the state Attorney General. This matter is pending.
In March 2020, another surveillance operation by GREY2K USA caught five people in the act of torturing live jackrabbits on a training farm in Oklahoma. Three of these individuals were identified as greyhound breeders Wesley L. Parvin and Haskell County Deputy Sheriff Jason Martin, along with Martin’s daughter Brooklyn. The investigation revealed forty-five greyhounds killing dozens of jackrabbits over two days. The two breeders are currently licensed and transporting greyhounds to race in several states and are known to have business relationships with key individuals in the national racing industry. GREY2K USA filed complaints with the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Oklahoma, the state Attorney General as well as the local District Attorney for Haskell County. Officials in West Virginia and Florida have also been informed of these activities. The matter is also pending.
In February 2015, an undercover investigation revealed that rabbits, possums, and pigs were being used to train greyhounds throughout Australia. As a result of this live baiting discovery, several major greyhound racing sponsors withdrew their support for the industry, dozens of owners and trainers were suspended or banned, and members of racing boards resigned. Numerous state investigations into the industry were launched, proving widespread endemic cruelty and merciless killings perpetrated by the greyhound industry. In New South Wales, the industry was temporarily banned in late 2016.
In September 2011, a Texas greyhound trainer named Timothy Norbert Titsworth was caught on video training greyhounds with live rabbits. In a video transcript prepared by the State Racing Commission, the rabbits were heard screaming as they were chased and subsequently caught by the dogs. An individual on the tape remarks, “Got a little blood, didn’t it?” Titsworth later remarks that “these dogs have had seven rabbits in the field. And then they’ve had about eight on the whirligig.” As a result of the investigation, Titsworth’s license was revoked, and he faced a criminal charge of cruelty to non-livestock animals in Burleson County, Texas. However, the case was dismissed in April 2012.