On August 31, 2013, Tucson Tails blogged about, “Remembering Dead Tucson Greyhound Pa’s Mismakamess Missy.” I was remembering that horrible night when a Tucson racing greyhound was killed and how so many people tried to save her. The year was 2007 and six years later I remember the vile incident like it was last week.
Yesterday I went back to reread that blog post and noticed there was a comment that I never saw by Rufus Lelevrier. I clicked on the comment which led me to a private group on yahoo promoting greyhound adoption in South Jersey.
After the Missy travesty where kennel operator David Blair tried to save a dog’s life while being allegedly intoxicated, he had a kangaroo court “trial” at Tucson Greyhound Park. Many adopters and advocates attended, me included (after protesting in front of TGP). The media covered the story.
David Blair was permitted to defend himself and he read a statement which was linked from the comment on the 2013 Missy blog. I’m posting it verbatim here: (in his own words)
“Statement, David Blair – September 3, 2007
Friday night we lost a friend. She was a 2-year-old white and brindle greyhound-and there is no reason in the world that she had to die.
For those of you who don’t know me, my name is David True Blair. I have been in the greyhound racing industry for 32 years, and got into it for one reason, and one reason only. I love dogs. I’m no saint. Plenty of people in the room know that, but I do the best I can. That’s all any of us can do.
What “the best I can” means to me as an owner and trainer, is that when my dogs retire from racing, they go on to good homes. Even before there were adoption groups, I placed my dogs with individuals and families. I used to put ads in local papers wherever I was, and as a result have friends all over the country. Many of the people in this room have dogs that once belonged to me.
I believe that when you love something, you’ve got a responsibility to it, especially when “that something” has given you as much as greyhounds have given me. In my experience, and especially now with the rise of adoption groups, it is always possible to find non-competitive dogs, good homes.
Where there’s a will there’s a way.
Which brings me to Friday night, August 31st. Friday night, there was a distinct lack of will. But it wasn’t mine.
I was working, and after the 6th race I was walking near the paddock when a handler walked in carrying a dog. My eyes met hers over his shoulder and I knew something bad had happened-she was being carried after all-but I knew something good was going to happen too. I have 5 acres in Marana, full kennel facilities, and 30 empty crates.
I was happy for the opportunity to help, especially when I heard that the injured dog-called Mismakamess, had simply fractured her hock. This is one of the more common injuries in dog racing. It generally occurs at the first turn, where the greyhound pushes off on the banked curve. The prognosis for these injuries is always good, since the bone affected-the tarsal bone-is a non-moving joint. I was positively relieved to see such an obviously minor injury. There was no displacement or external wound of any kind, the leg wasn’t swollen and she was not under stress. I told them to wrap the leg and I would take her home.
In 32 years I’ve seen so many similar injuries that I knew after a few months of kennel rest, Mismakamess would be fine.
They wouldn’t release her to me. I couldn’t understand; and for awhile thought I’d misunderstood. There were some subsequent phone calls, some dickering back and forth. In the end they told me that if I paid them 200 dollars, I could have her. Otherwise, they were going to kill her.
As most of you know by now, I objected and took a stand. I didn’t know what would happen if I left my post to go to the ATM machine. Nor, to be honest, could I fathom the logic of what they were saying. I saved a pitbull in Mexico once. Some kids were torturing her and I paid them a hundred bucks to hand her over to me. But those were poor street kids in Mexico years ago, not “professionals” in Tucson in 2007!
I called Barb Gadola from Arizona Greyhound Rescue, thinking if they wouldn’t give the dog to me, maybe they’d give it to her. She and her husband immediately agreed to come down. I called Kathy Johnson of The Greyhound Adoption Center. She was willing to jump in the car and drive all the way from San Diego. The forces were aligned, and I figured all I had to do was buy Mismakamess a little time until the cavalry arrived.
When the South Tucson Police arrived, I was thrilled. I thought they were there to intervene and delay the dog’s death until Barb could arrive and take her from the track. When I left I was happy. I thought Mismakamess was safe, thought I’d wake up in the morning to greet her in the safety and comfort of the AGR kennels at my place in Marana.
That’s not what happened. When I woke up the next morning I called State Steward Eddie Rosano. Mismakamess had been killed.
So I’m here today with two fights on my hands. First, I’m fighting for my livelihood, as of Saturday my license has been suspended and so has my income. I’m not worried about fast cars and vacations. I don’t spend my money on any of that, but I’ve got greyhounds, mixed breed dogs, 16 goats, a multitude of cats, pigs and chickens to feed. Also many employees. But I’m also fighting for one white and brindle dog who couldn’t fight for herself, and all the other like her, who give us so much, asking so little in return.
Thank you for your time.
David True Blair”
You know what happened. Missy greyhound was killed. The attending vet had the chance to save the dog or kill the dog — she killed the dog.
To most of us in the audience it was a mock trial with the decision already in the can. David Blair was suspended. But to his credit, he didn’t go back. Instead he went to Phoenix Greyhound Park. And when PGP closed in 2009, he still didn’t go back to Tucson Greyhound Park instead he went to Arkansas to race. I was hoping he would get out of the business but that didn’t happen. He also races dogs in Tijuana. It’s slightly comforting to note that if anyone races in Tijuana, it’s him. He is highly respected by his peers and his dog Bella Infared recently won some racing industry awards.————–
I am not a fan of greyhound racing and I never will be. I thank David Blair for trying to save an injured greyhound with a routine injury and other people who try do the right thing in the wrong business. I know you’re out there. Are you?
(Photo: The hound pictured is not Missy but another white and brindle female who was far more fortunate than Missy. This is Donut. I don’t know her racing name and I don’t much care. According to the adopter (Judith W.), “Donut was lucky. She broke her quarter bone during schooling and never had to race.” Nobody tried to sell her for $200 and she went to a RESCUE group.)