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Hundreds of Racing Dogs Killed

May 24th, 2002, 10:03 PM
Hundreds of Racing Dogs Killed

The Associated Press
Wednesday, May 22, 2002; 7:36 AM

LILLIAN, Ala. Investigators found the remains of as many as 2,000 animals, including hundreds of racing dogs, on the property of a man who said he has been shooting and burying greyhounds at a charge of $10 per animal for more than 40 years.

State officials obtained a search warrant Tuesday to search the 18 acres owned by Robert Rhodes after receiving a tip from Florida investigators. Satellite images showed animal bones strewn about the property and investigators used the photographs to convince a judge to issue the warrant.

"It's almost a Dachau for dogs," said Baldwin County District Attorney David Whetstone, referring to the Nazi concentration camp where thousands of Jews were exterminated between 1933 and 1945.

Florida officials were investigating allegations that greyhounds from Pensacola Greyhound Park, a dog-racing track, have been improperly destroyed.

Rhodes, 68, told The Mobile Register that he has killed and buried as many as 2,000 animals humanely with a gunshot but did not say what tracks brought him the dogs.

"Wouldn't you assume a person doing this for 40 years would know how to put them down?" he said. "I would not condone any torture."

Whetstone said he is considering criminal charges against Rhodes under the state's "Gucci Law" if any of the animals underwent severe pain or were tortured. The 2-year-old law was named for a Mobile dog that survived torture. The offense is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.

Other possible charges include animal cruelty, a misdemeanor punishable by a maximum of a year in jail.

Whetstone said a veterinarian autopsied four of the dogs and determined only one had been shot cleanly through the brain. The others received bullet wounds through the neck and elsewhere, indicating they would have suffered before dying, he said.

Susan Netboy, president of the Greyhound Protection League in Sacramento, Calif., said she hoped there would be a follow-up investigation because she believed the extermination of aging greyhounds is common.

"The evidence that was brought to light by the district attorney destroys the ongoing propaganda from the racing industry that greyhounds are treated humanely and are not killed," she said.

2002 The Associated Press