February 13th, 2010 by admin
In May 2002, a dark secret of Florida’s dog racing industry was revealed with the arrest of Robert Rhodes, a former security guard at the Pensacola Greyhound Track. At his property across the state line in Alabama, investigators found mounds of bones and unearthed the carcasses of several recently-killed greyhounds. Rhodes confessed that for years he had been shooting and burying greyhounds sent to him from Florida tracks. Over the years Rhodes had killed as many as 3,000 greyhounds. At the time, the Baldwin County, Alabama district attorney explained, “These dogs were not unhealthy, they were just slow.”
One of the many trainers who sent dogs to Rhodes was Ursula O’Donnell. Last month, journalist Michael Mooney, writing in New Times Broward-Palm Beach, broke the story that O’Donnell is still working in Florida as a greyhound trainer (we’ve written before about Mooney’s excellent reporting on greyhound racing).
Although O’Donnell was charged with animal cruelty in 2002 following the discovery of the greyhound graveyard, the charges were dropped when Robert Rhodes died before trial.
In an update on Thursday, Mooney reported that trouble has continued to follow O’Donnell; for example, dogs trained by O’Donnell have tested positive for banned drugs, most recently in 2009. Click here to read more.
Greyhound advocates are asking people to contact Florida’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering and ask the Director to open an investigation, and consider revoking O’Donnell’s license. Click here to get involved.