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    Posted byadmin on Tuesday, March 27 @ 22:45:10 EDT
    Contributed by admin


    Allegations of wrongdoing by breeders and owners of racing dogs are rare in West Virginia, a fact that may help to explain the state Racing Commission’s response when such claims surfaced earlier this month. Still, commission officials should review that response in order to determine whether they acted too hastily in some regards.

    Earlier this month, the commission suspended one breeder, Paul Carbonneau, after receiving information that health certificates for at least 35 of his greyhounds may have been falsified. Carbonneau’s dogs were not permitted to compete at either of the state’s two greyhound racing tracks, here in Wheeling and at Cross Lanes.

    Since then, Carbonneau has been fined $17,500 by the commission.

    But the commission also suspended racing privileges for seven other breeders. They were given little, if any, information concerning why their dogs had been suspended. Hearings were scheduled, then postponed.

    After about a week, suspensions for the seven breeders were lifted. But while the suspensions were in effect, the breeders allegedly lost money because their dogs were not allowed to compete.

    What happened? If the racing commission had valid grounds for concern, why were the suspensions rescinded? Why were hearings for the seven breeders postponed? Did the commission act too hastily in ordering the suspensions?

    Those are not rhetorical questions. We simply don’t know the answers — and neither, say at least some of the breeders, do they.

    Racing Commission officials should look into the matter, both to answer questions concerning the seven breeders and to provide guidance for the future in regulating the greyhound industry.



    Greyhound breeders across the state are slamming the West Virginia Racing Commission after the agency suspended seven dog owners and then rescinded those suspensions a week later, with what breeders say was little explanation.
    Sam Burdette, president of the West Virginia Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association, is calling for racing commissioner George Sidiropolis to resign.

    Burdette accused Sidiropolis of abusing his authority and damaging the reputation of the state's greyhound industry.

    Sidiropolis did not return a telephone call Monday.

    The seven greyhound breeders were temporarily banned from racing dogs at Wheeling Island Racetrack and Tri-State Racetrack in Nitro. Owners were told they had to prove their dogs were healthy and free of steroids to have their racing privileges reinstated.

    But the owners claimed they were never given a definitive reason why their dogs had been pulled from the tracks. Recently, the Racing Commission stated it could not comment on pending investigations.

    Burdette called the actions of the commission "demeaning" and "disappointing" to the greyhound industry.

    "One who understands the racing industry understands the ridiculousness of these claims," said Burdette, also a board member of the National Greyhound Association. "As a personal aside, and not as the head of any association, I feel he (Sidiropolis) should resign and the governor should replace him."

    Breeders Hazel Helen Ille, Flying Eagle Kennel, Kermit Klosterman, Kenny Ryan, Smith Greyhounds Inc., D.Q. Williams, and Dean Miner were the suspended. They were scheduled to appear before a three-member administrative panel last week, but those hearings were postponed due to undisclosed reasons.

    One of the breeders, Miner, said he didn't even receive a letter informing him of the hearing until two days after it was supposed to take place.

    Paul Carbonneau, one of the state's top greyhound breeders, still faces a suspension. He's accused of falsifying the health certificates for at least 35 of his greyhounds.

    Burdette said he thinks the Racing Commission should accept part of the blame if it finds a problem with a breeder's dog health certificates.

    "Most dog breeders have no firsthand dealings with the health certificates," Burdette said. "The dogs, many times, come from a trainer's farm and get their health certificates from a local vet."

    Burdette said Racing Commission employees are supposed to inspect each dog at the tracks and are equally responsible for an animal's safety and welfare.

    "I've had calls from people in Texas, Oklahoma and Kansas saying, 'Sam, what in the hell is going on in West Virginia?' This is embarrassing to the whole industry," he said.

    Miner said although his suspension was lifted, the controversy has tarnished his reputation.

    "I was treated like Hitler up there at the tracks," said Miner, who has 72 dogs at Wheeling Racetrack and leases 40 to Tri-State.

    Miner said he and his partner earn up to $15,000 on a good day, and they usually take home about 10 percent of that. The rest goes to taxes, to pay for employees and take care of the dogs.

    Miner said he might consider legal action against the Racing Commission, if possible, because the suspensions hurt him and strained his business.

    State Deputy Attorney General Christie Utt, who is representing the commission, also could not be reached for comment Monday.

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