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Comments needed to punish cruelty to greyhounds in West Virginia

Dear Friends,

The campaign to fight for greyhounds in the Mountain State has begun!

Last week, I had the opportunity to visit with officials and testify at a West Virginia State Racing Commission meeting about two cases involving mistreatment of greyhounds. Read my testimony.

According to state records, trainer Christopher Bever was seen and filmed jerking and hitting greyhounds just before racing was to begin on April 28, 2013. Racing Director Jane Horvath as well as several kennel workers witnessed Bever's actions stating:
"Chris jerked the dog." "I saw Chris hit the dog right on the head and the dog was so scared that it was lying on the ground." "Chris yelled at the dogs and struck one … seconds later, he struck the dog again." Read more witness statements here.

After having a verbal altercation with officials, Trainer Bever was escorted off track property and later "found guilty of the charge of abusing greyhounds in his care."

State records also document the lack of medical care given to three-year-old Kiowa Dutch Girl, who suffered a broken leg on the morning of March 4 and was left to suffer in her cage until March 8, 2013. Kennel worker James E. Bloom, who witnessed the injury occur, described the leg as "bleeding, dangling" and stated that Kiowa Dutch Girl was "whining just panting so I thought she was in pain. She couldn't put weight on it." "It looked broken."

Kennal manager James P. Grace explained, "I know the dog owner, Kay Smith, who owns a lot of dogs, and Bob Mackey the kennel owner, or the GPA [Greyhound Pets of America] wouldn't pay for the surgery. James Bloom + I agreed it would be a 99% chance she would be put to sleep."

On visiting Bob Mackey's facility three days later, Racing Director Horvath painted the picture of just how bad things were at the Cardinal Kennel: "In my opinion, this was about as bad as a kennel can get. It was filthy, had substandard equipment, the urine smell was overpowering, and an obviously injured dog was not receiving appropriate care." Accordingly, Commission Veterinarian Dr. Lori Bohenko ordered Kiowa Dutch Girl sent to the hospital immediately -- but she was not brought to a doctor until the next day! This failure to obey instructions to care for an injured greyhound is a violation of WVRC Rule 178-2-149.

Thankfully, and apparently due to the intervention of Dr. Bohenko, Kiowa Dutch Girl was not killed and a Commission official has stated that she was placed for adoption.

The Racing Commission acted swifty and to the full extent of its statutory authority by revoking the licenses of Christopher Bever and James P. Grace and by suspending James E. Bloom. Now we must ask them to not only revoke the license of kennel owner, Robert A. Mackey, but also to refer all these cases for criminal prosecution under the West Virginia anti-cruelty law.

At our urging, the Commission has announced that it will better document its investigations and has now drafted a policy of referring cases involving cruelty to greyhounds for criminal proescution. Read the policy here. Please join us in sending a comment in support of this new policy and also ask for the case of Robert A. Mackey in particular to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law.

Go here to post your comment.
The Racing Commission welcomes input from all parts of the world on its groundbreaking proposal that will help deter future cruelty to greyounds. In fact, the Charleston Daily Mail has already voiced support for better treatment of greyhounds.

Remember to post your comment for the greyhounds now. As long as greyhound racing continues in West Virginia, we must do whatever we can to stop cruelty to greyhounds at both the Wheeling and Tri-State tracks.


Christine A. Dorchak, Esq.


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