|Greyhound Protection League
KENNEL COUGH EPIDEMIC CONTINUES TO SPREAD
Apr 07, 2003 - Race Dogs in the Florida Panhandle, Alabama and New England are the Latest to be Stricken
Monday, April 7, 2003 - A kennel cough epidemic that has wreaked havoc on the Florida greyhounds has made its way into Alabama and the Florida Panhandle. Birmingham Race Course was forced to cancel live racing after a large number of sick dogs succumbed to the illness. Dozens of scratches at Victoryland, Pensacola and Ebro dog tracks indicate that they too are in the throws of an outbreak.
Dog tracks in Orlando, West Palm Beach and Sarasota cancelled racing for varying periods of time. Other Florida tracks whose dogs have been equally hard hit continued to race in spite of the severity of the outbreak. Derby Lane cancelled live racing indefinitely after the death of two of its greyhounds. Preliminary necropsy evidence from the University of Florida suggests that canine streptococcal toxic shock syndrome (STSS) which can present like kennel cough may be the actual cause of death. In 1999 STSS killed 20 greyhounds and afflicted thousands of others nationwide; researchers have not yet uncovered the relationship between STSS and kennel cough that is debilitating to racing dogs but normally not deadly.
The Lincoln, Rhode Island track had to cancel live racing indefinitely and other New England tracks are showing initial signs of the sickness. Track officials at Lincoln say that their dogs were infected by a sick dog from the Hollywood dog track. Greyhound advocates who have been tracking the epidemic determined that Florida race dogs were recently relocated to the Birmingham kennel compound.
The Greyhound Protection League (GPL), a national greyhound advocacy organization, called for a mandated, statewide quarantine, isolation of sick greyhounds and cancellation of races when the League first learned of the outbreak in mid March. GPL blames the spread of the sickness on the continued movement of greyhounds from track to track and state to state despite knowledge of the sickness. The League is especially critical of tracks like Hollywood and Naples that are ignoring welfare issues and continuing to race dogs that may be sick.
"The Florida Dog racing industry ignored warning signs that could have contained the disease at the first sign of sickness," said GPL spokesperson, Susan Netboy. "Self imposed quarantines that can be lifted and violated at will are meaningless, I fear that we're facing a national epidemic and countless more greyhound deaths due to this negligence."