Investigating Tucson Greyhound Parkby Karyn Zoldan on Sep. 23, 2011, under Animal Cruelty, Dogs, Canines, Fun with Fido, Barking Encouraged, Greyhounds
I want to thank Tim Vanderpool, Tucson Weekly reporter who for the past few years has written about the state sanctioned travesty known as Tucson Greyhound Park. In 2010, Vanderpool received an AAN Award for a series of articles that he did about the South Tucson dog track.
This week Vanderpool wrote another article called Selective Enforcement essentially saying there is no enforcement or oversight at TGP. He got that right.
I too spoke to PACC Investigator Tenkate because as a concerned greyhound adopter, during the sizzling heat of our Tucson summer I was out of my mind worrying about the dogs racing when it was 102-plus degrees. When I called Tenkate, I did not disclose that I was a blogger because I had no intention of writing about it but in the habit of being a writer, I took copious notes.
According to my conversation with Investigator Tenkate…She makes two unannounced visits a year to Tucson Greyhound Park – HOWEVER – this year she did go – March 25, April 8, and June 30 at 7:15 p.m. She said she goes more often if there is a valid request. I called her on June 29 and because of my call she went on June 30 and called me back a few days later. (thank you)
Each kennel except for the new kennel has a list of requirements that she checks for.
On the June 30 visit, she visited the MB Kennel (the new kennel) which at the time had 68 dogs, Hale Kennel 85 dogs, and Donna Mann Kennel 68 dogs. She said Donna Mann always had water for her dogs even before the requirement. (thank you Ms. Mann)
I failed to ask her when the dogs having water as a requirement came into effect. (All dogs should have fresh drinking water at all times.) She said the dogs must always have access to water (thank you). Every dog has access to water whether it’s with coffee cans or buckets hanging from the kennel or some other kind of drip system. I got the impression that the must-have-access-to-water was her doing. (again, thank you)
In these kennels, she said the temperature was 75 to 80 degrees from swamp coolers.
She said the meat is being cooked. She said the meat is properly thawed.
She said sometimes the dogs are wearing muzzles but not this time (June 30). I reminded her of a video which aired on KOLD-TV in December 2010 where the dogs were sitting in dark cages – muzzled.
She cannot get into all the kennels because they are locked. It’s random, like who is there to let her in.
She knew that one night the races were cancelled after the 4th race but then there were no more cancellations. She initially said she was told that the race was cancelled because of the heat but then we discussed that it was equally hot or hotter the following nights.
Already knowing the answer, I asked her why the dogs race when it’s 102+. She said she was told that it depends on the heat and humidity but she didn’t know what that criteria was. However, she was going to ask.
(According to conversations with Arizona Department of Racing, there are no criteria or guidelines in place…so much for greyhound welfare.)
She said two veterinarians make the determination as far as cancelling the races regarding temperature. On this particular night of June 30, Paul Pullen, a TGP vet, and Charles Hoover, acting state vet, were present.
She caught me off guard as I was getting ready to go out and I forgot to ask her a few more questions. Later I thought about what I would be looking for and what questions I would be hounding them with — if I were the investigator.
I didn’t have Investigator Tenkate’s email so instead I left her three or four voicemails over a period of a few days with criteria and questions that plagued me about the dogs’ conditions.
Tucson Greyhound Park claims they are cooking the meat rather than feeding the dogs raw 4D meat from dead, dying, diseased, and disabled animals.
–Does every kennel have its own cooker?
–What is the cooker? A fryer, pot on a hot plate, crock pot?
–How are they cooking the meat?
–Do they actually cook the food or is the equipment for show?
–Did you check the cookers for use?
–Is the cooker clean on the inside?
–How often do they cook the food?
–How often do they feed the dogs?
–If they cook once/a day, how do they store the food for the rest of the day?
–If cooking for 60 to 80 dogs per kennel, do they need fire department inspection approval or building code approval for cooking that much meat?
–If they are indeed cooking the meat, does each kennel have smoke detectors or fire extinguishers?
–If yes, have you seen those inspections?
–How do they dispose of the grease or do they feed it to the dogs?
*–If they are cooking meat for 700 dogs, don’t you think the entire square mile of South Tucson would smell like meat cooking?
–How are the dogs cooled down after the race?
–Are they put in a cool down tub?
–Are they hosed down?
–Does each kennel do his or her own cool down or is there a cool down area?
–How many dogs can be cooled down at once?
–Are dogs cooled down all summer long or just during the heat waves?
*How do they make sure the water is not too cold?
–Did any dogs exhibit the signs of overheating or heatstroke?
Entrance to kennels
–Investigator Tenkate said that entrance to kennels was to their discretion as to what kennel was open. As the county enforcement officer, would not having entry to all the kennels constitute an interference of duties? Who knows what goes on behind closed doors? Shouldn’t the security guard have keys to all the kennels in case of emergency? The same question applies to the track vet and GM?
*What if she went for her designated visit and all the doors were locked? Would that be counted as a visit? Why is access so limited to authorized personnel?
Imagine restaurants who locked their doors because they didn’t want the health department inspection. It should not be up to the racing kennels regarding inspections.
–Who is responsible for worming dogs?
–How often are dogs wormed?
–Are records kept? If yes, do you have copies or view copies?
–Are receipts kept for worming supplies? If yes, do you have copies or view copies?
–Are you able to check the records as to how often females are being dosed?
–Whose signature is on the steroid records?
*–What kind of steroids do the dogs get and in what quantity are steroids purchased?
*–Are there receipts for the steroids?
*–Are their DEA records provided to PACC to show the steroids as properly procured?
–Have you seen any sign of rodents or rodent droppings?
–Are there mouse traps in place?
–In the event of some kind of emergency, is there a written plan in place for each kennel to evacuate the dogs safely? Here’s another reason for more than the kennel operator to have the key.
–Where do they dispose of the dead dogs?
–What method do they use to dispose of dead dogs?
–Does it create a health risk?
* Designates questions I thought of while writing this blog post not actually left on Investigator Tenkate’s voicemail.
Here’s a bizarre video where the GM of the Tucson dog track compares TGP to the Taj Mahal. He also says that people won’t like what they see when they go inside. At least he’s right about one thing.
(Photo credit: Pima Animal Care Center but obtained by GREY2K USA through a public information request.)