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TUCSON GREYHOUND PARK - MISSING DOGS

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TUCSON WEEKLY

PUBLISHED ON DECEMBER 28, 2006:

Biting Back

The poster boy for greyhound abuse is thrown to the dogs

By SAXON BURNS

Jason Swift

Richard Favreau, the greyhound hauler reviled by animal lovers far and wide, just got slapped with an unprecedented fine for his role in the disappearance of at least 140 dogs.

Geoffrey Gonsher, director of the Arizona Department of Racing, ordered Favreau to pay $140,000--or $1,000 per dog--to a greyhound-adoption program. The Dec. 19 ruling also instructed Favreau to contribute 700 hours of community service to an adoption or animal-rights group, revoked his license and barred him from obtaining a new license in Arizona for the rest of his life. Favreau has 30 days from the date of the ruling to appeal.

Tucson Greyhound Park reportedly paid Favreau $150 a head to transport hounds to his facility in Calhan, Colo., and then distribute them to adoption groups between November 2005 and July 2006. The vast majority of the dogs disappeared after they left the track, however. (See "Dogs Gone," Nov. 9.)

Gonsher wrote in the ruling that "the worst fear is that the animals were heartlessly put to death ... and are now in an undisclosed graveyard in the desert.

"This entire scenario smells of foul play and is revolting to those who love greyhounds, both as pets and as athletes, fully support humane treatment of animal athletes and respect the legitimacy of pari-mutuel racing," the ruling continued.

In an earlier judgment, the Phoenix Greyhound Park Board of Stewards had suspended Favreau's license for 60 days and fined him $1,000, which went unpaid. The greyhound hauler followed through on a threat not to attend the Nov. 29 hearing presided over by Gonsher, which resulted in the Dec. 19 judgment.

Favreau has apparently disconnected the phone at his residence in Calhan. Earlier, he had complained to the Weekly he was being unfairly hounded by the media; indeed, journalists from all over the country--and some from outside the United States, according to greyhound activists--have run with the story. Favreau has repeatedly denied any wrongdoing, but has not provided any substantive information on the whereabouts of the dogs.

Susan Netboy, president of the California-based Greyhound Protection League, had mixed feelings about Favreau's punishment.

"I was shocked at the dollar amount he was fined," she said. "That's a huge fine for anyone to receive in the dog-racing industry. I was pleased with that, but I was dismayed about one thing, and that is that they didn't acknowledge the full number of dogs that were killed--even though they were working off the same records I was working off of."

Reports on how many animals went missing have varied, but Netboy believes as many as 37 additional greyhounds are unaccounted for in Gonsher's ruling. Gonsher told the Weekly that 140 was the number of dogs that could be verified at the time of Favreau's hearing, but there could be more.

Other greyhound activists expressed skepticism about the Arizona Department of Racing's ability to get Favreau to pay his fine.

"We are heartened by the findings against Favreau," wrote Mary Freeman, president of the Tucson-based Arizona Greyhound Rescue, in an e-mail. "Given the laws, there has been accountability. While the money can probably never be collected, the racing commission has given notice to others in the racing industry and Tucson Greyhound Park that willful disregard of greyhound welfare and negligence in recordkeeping will no longer be tolerated without serious consequences."

Similarly, Joan Eidinger, editor and publisher of Greyhound Network News, was impressed with the fine, but was unsure if it would ever be paid.

"My reaction is that it's unprecedented in the 60-year history of racing in Arizona. But I doubt if the state is ever going to collect it from him."

Gonsher said "yes and no" when asked if there were any mechanism for the department to force Favreau to pay. Because he had revoked Favreau's license, Gonsher said, his authority over the man was "very limited," but he added that he would be asking the collections unit of the Attorney General's Office to extract payment from the man.

"How successful they would be, I just don't know," he said.

Two messages left for Andrea M. Esquer, press secretary for the Attorney General's Office, weren't immediately returned.

Gonsher declined to comment on whether the Department of Racing will investigate TGP for its role in the disappearance. However, his order took note of the greyhound park's inability to produce records vital to finding out what happened to the dogs, adding that further review into the park's conduct may be warranted.

Chris McConnell, general manager at Tucson Greyhound Park, didn't return a message left for him at his office. TGP has typically refused to respond to media requests for comment on the Favreau affair.

Netboy and others would like to see TGP's actions--or inactions--in the greyhounds' disappearance exposed.

"It's high time that Tucson Greyhound Park pays a price for (its) role in being negligent about any concern as to who was hauling off these dogs," Netboy said.

Eidinger agreed. "I think there's a bigger question here, and that's the fact that the director wants the Phoenix Board of Stewards to look into the role of the track. The track has to be looked at. It's not just one guy: They hired him; they paid him; they knew from the NGA (National Greyhound Association) that he had his license suspended for donating dogs to research labs. So they knew that he was not a great guy."

http://www.tucsonweekly.com/gbase/Currents/Content?oid=90739

Greyhounds feared dead; hauler banned for life from racing

By Josh Brodesky

ARIZONA DAILY STAR

December 20, 2006

The mystery of Tucson Greyhound Park's missing greyhounds has yet to be solved — and may never be.

Still, the Arizona Department of Racing went ahead Tuesday and revoked Colorado greyhound hauler Rick Favreau's license while also banning him for life from greyhound racing in the state.

Favreau removed more than 140 dogs from Tucson Greyhound Park between November 2005 and July 2006. Favreau and the track's managers had an agreement that, for $150 each, he would haul the dogs to his property in Calhan, Colo. From there they would be distributed to adoption agencies.

Most of the dogs, however, disappeared, prompting Department of Racing director Geoffrey Gonsher to assume the worst.

"The assumption is that the animals may have been killed for profit," he wrote in his ruling, citing a lack of information from Favreau and Tucson Greyhound Park to prove otherwise.

The department also ordered Favreau to contribute $140,000 to a greyhound adoption agency and serve 700 hours of community service with an animal-rights or adoption group. Collecting will be difficult, however, because the department has limited powers, particularly since Favreau is in Colorado.

Favreau has yet to pay a $1,000 fine levied several months ago by the Phoenix Greyhound Park Board of Stewards.

Gonsher declined to comment on the ruling, citing Favreau's right to appeal it.

In his ruling, however, Gonsher characterized the disappearance as inhumane and undercutting the sport's integrity.

"The entire scenario smells of foul play and is revolting to those who love greyhounds, both as pets and as athletes, fully support humane treatment of our animal athletes, and respect the legitimacy of parimutuel racing," he wrote.

He also criticized Tucson Greyhound Park, which was not under investigation, saying it failed to meet its responsibilities to the dogs.

Gonsher noted the track entered an agreement with Favreau, but failed to keep "complete and accurate records" of the location and disposition of the dogs.

"This raises the issue" of whether Tucson Greyhound Park's "responsibility stops at the entrance to the track, or whether it extends beyond to ensure the proper care, safety and disposition of the greyhounds that are no longer active racers," he wrote.

Tucson Greyhound Park general manager Chris McConnell did not reply to a message left on his cell phone.

Favreau has disconnected his phone. He has in the past denied any wrongdoing, but has also failed to locate any of the greyhounds for investigators.

Greyhound activists reacted to the ruling with displeasure at what they perceived as the Department of Racing's limited ability to issue sanctions.

Susan Netboy, who first reported the missing greyhounds and is president of the California-based Greyhound Protection League, described the sanctions as a "mere formality."

"I take very little comfort in the fact that he has been fined or he has been dealt with because the dogs are dead," Netboy said, adding she plans to pursue the case criminally.

In the meantime, she has been compiling lists of owners for what she believes to be 177 dogs that have disappeared.

Exactly how many dogs have disappeared from Tucson Greyhound Park is unclear as various numbers have been reported in the media.

The number 140 the department has settled on represents those dogs whose disappearance could be confirmed. Gonsher said the number could be higher.

This is the second major incident involving dogs being hauled from Tucson Greyhound Park in the last year and a half.

In the summer of 2005, eight dogs died while being taken to a now-closed racetrack in Ciudad Juarez, Mexico.

The state's Department of Racing is working to create a greyhound database to monitor the movement of dogs to and from tracks.

Officials with the Colorado Division of Racing are also investigating the case.

● Contact reporter Josh Brodesky at 807-7789 or jbrodesky@azstarnet.com.

http://www.azstarnet.com/allheadlines/161150

Missing dogs' hauler rebuked

Michael Clancy
The Arizona Republic
Dec. 20, 2006 12:00 AM

Some of the most severe penalties ever from the Arizona Department of Racing were levied Tuesday against a Colorado man who could not account for 140 or more greyhounds that he hauled from a racetrack in Tucson.

Richard Favreau of Calhan, Colo., was banned for life from the racing business.

Department Director Geoffrey Gonsher also fined Favreau $140,000 and ordered him to complete 700 hours of community service.

The fine, $1,000 per missing dog, must be paid to a greyhound adoption program. The community service time, five hours per dog, must be served at an animal rights or animal adoption organization.

Gonsher "has issued orders banning others for life, but he has never issued the financial/community service sanctions as severely," said Nan Mitchell, administrative services coordinator for the Racing Department. "But, I don't believe he's ever had a matter quite like this."

Favreau could not be reached for comment, and Tuesday's ruling found that he could not account for at least 140 dogs taken from the Tucson Greyhound Park over a yearlong period. Favreau was paid $150 to transport each dog, about twice the going rate, according to investigators.

Many of the dogs were supposed to go to greyhound adoption programs, but records indicate only six of them ever were placed with new owners.

Gonsher said the department may not ever be able to confirm the remaining dogs' fate, but "the presumption is that the animals may have been killed for profit. . . . The entire scenario smells of foul play."

He said Favreau showed "a total disregard for the safety, welfare and lives of the animals that were entrusted to his care."

"The worst fear is that the animals were heartlessly put to death by (Favreau) and are now in an undisclosed graveyard in the desert," Gonsher said.

Favreau declined to participate in a Nov. 29 hearing on the matter, and his telephone in Colorado has been disconnected.

In an earlier interview, he said all the dogs were fine, and that most were returned to their owners. But he produced no records to prove his contention.

Susan Netboy of the Greyhound Protection League, who brought the issue to state officials, said she was elated by the decision and surprised by the severity of the penalties.

"It is a measure of justice," she said, "but I take no comfort in having to face the reality that all these dogs are dead."

She said she believed additional dogs were involved.

Further investigation could involve the Tucson racetrack, which according to investigative documents kept shoddy records of the transactions with Favreau.

Gonsher said the track lacked "complete and accurate documentation," and that its "accountability and culpability cannot be ignored." He said "further review" of the track may be in store.

Kenneth Swetman of Tolleson, who according to records owned six of the transported dogs, said he was shocked by the news that his some of his dogs might be dead.

He said he contracts with the track to place dogs for adoption after their careers are over.

"I assumed they were at an adoption agency," he said.

He said most people in the greyhound business love the dogs and never would harm them, "but there are scuzzy people involved, just like they are in other businesses."

Favreau has 30 days to appeal the ruling to the department. If denied by Gonsher and the Arizona Racing Commission, he can appeal to the Superior Court.

http://www.azcentral.com/arizonarepublic/local/articles/1220greyhounds1220.html

Arizona Daily Star

Published: 11.30.2006

Dog-track execs knew Colorado lifted hauler's license, files show

By Josh Brodesky

ARIZONA DAILY STAR

Greyhound Park officials' monitoring the adoption of dogs and their locations "would entail concise recordskeeping and follow-up, so (the dogs) are never placed in an at-risk situation."
Gary Guccione, National Greyhound Association executive director

PHOENIX -Officials with Tucson Greyhound Park knew that the Colorado-based hauler they used to transport now-missing dogs had had his license suspended recently by Colorado racing authorities, according to documents.

The Arizona Department of Racing released records Wednesday in its investigation of about 150 missing greyhounds that Richard Favreau transported from Tucson Greyhound Park over the last year.

Records show that last fall, the track's general manager, Chris McConnell, and Tony Fasulo, chief operating officer for ZapCon Inc., which owns the track, contacted the National Greyhound Association to check Favreau's standing with the organization.

The association serves as the registry of racing greyhounds in North America.

Gary Guccione, the organization's executive director, told them Favreau was in good standing, but he also said Favreau's Colorado license was suspended for the 1998 sale of greyhounds to Colorado State University for research without the permission of their owners, according to records.

In a follow-up letter to McConnell and Fasulo, dated Nov. 2, 2005, Guccione foreshadowed the problems to come.

He encouraged track officials to work with credible adoption agencies that closely monitor the dogs and their locations.

"This would entail concise recordskeeping and follow-up, so that all Greyhounds designated for adoption are never placed in an 'at-risk' situation," he wrote.

Geoffrey Gonsher, the Racing Department's director, released the records after Favreau failed to appear for his most recent hearing in Phoenix.

In October, Favreau was fined $1,000 and had his license suspended for 60 days by the Phoenix Greyhound Park Board of Stewards with the recommendation that Gonsher revoke his license.

Although Favreau did not appear at Wednesday's hearing, Gonsher is to issue a written ruling within 20 days. In addition to revoking Favreau's license, Gonsher can also increase the fine to $5,000.

Last fall, Favreau made a verbal contract with Tucson Greyhound Park to haul dogs from the track to adoption agencies for $150 a dog, according to records.

On Tuesday, McConnell, the track's general manager, would not comment about the Favreau case, citing the ongoing investigation.

However, records show McConnell supplied log sheets to investigators for 146 dogs hauled to Favreau's Colorado property. Favreau made six trips, with a different hauler making one.

Efforts to reach Favreau were unsuccessful because his telephone has been disconnected.

He has said he delivered most of the dogs to adoption groups, notably in New Mexico and Texas, according to records.

In a letter responding to questions from Guccione, of the National Greyhound Association, Favreau wrote that "20 or 30 of these dogs were directly returned to their owners in Colorado. … Still others were adopted out to several different places."

He wrote that he could not provide further records because of a "power surge" that "fried" his computer.

Although he has said he delivered the dogs to various owners and adoption agencies, he has only named one colorado adoption agency.

To date, the Racing Department has located six of the dogs.

In a visit to Favreau's kennels, Colorado racing investigator Terry Marsh noted that "Favreau had fewer than a dozen dogs present, and the majority of runs and turnout pens were filled with weeds and debris," according to documents.

In addition to letters and investigative reports, the documents released by the department also include several lists of dogs.

Joan Eidinger, editor and publisher of the Greyhound Network News, said she and other activists will use the lists to locate the dogs' owners.

The missing dogs were first reported to Colorado and Arizona authorities by Susan Netboy of the California-based Greyhound Protection League.

Contact reporter Josh Brodesky at 434-4086 or jbrodesky@azstarnet.com.

http://www.azstarnet.com/metro/158359.php

The Arizona Republic

Missing greyhounds remain mystery

Transporter skips hearing; some fear race dogs are dead

Michael Clancy
The Arizona Republic
Nov. 30, 2006 12:00 AM

A large but undetermined number of retired racing greyhounds remain unaccounted for - as does the man who transported them from Tucson Greyhound Park between November 2005 and July 2006.

Richard Favreau, the Colorado kennel owner who moved more than 150 dogs from the track, did not attend a hearing Wednesday at the Arizona Department of Racing, where his license to own and transport the dogs was at risk.

His phone has been disconnected.

Favreau already is serving a 60-day suspension of his Arizona license, and owes the state a fine of $1,000. The hearing, to determine further action, offered Favreau the opportunity to provide detailed records of the dogs, who some worry are dead.

Department director Geoffrey Gonsher said he would make a decision based on investigative reports within 20 days, as required by law. Gonsher's options range from no action to Favreau's permanent suspension, which effectively would end his greyhound career.

Disciplinary actions taken by authorities in one state normally are honored by others.

Favreau was suspended and fined in October by the Phoenix Greyhound Park Board of Stewards, which investigated the matter and forwarded it to Gonsher.

The stewards found Favreau could not account for the dogs he took from the Tucson track in at least six trips.

Favreau previously told The Arizona Republic that none of the dogs was injured or killed. He said all of them were placed for adoption, returned to owners or handled according to owners' wishes.

But investigators could account for only six dogs, placed with an adoption group in Colorado.

Favreau, in a letter responding to an inquiry from the National Greyhound Association, the industry's dog registry, said he kept track of the dogs on his computer, but the files were lost in a power surge.

He was able to provide identifying information on 25 dogs.

The Tucson racetrack, meanwhile, provided log sheets identifying 146 dogs, but was unable to provide additional information regarding the dogs' ultimate fate.

The Tucson track is considered the end of the line for many racing dogs. Once the dogs' racing careers are over, many are abandoned or signed over to the track for disposition, usually adoption.

Track manager Chris McConnell has not returned phone calls seeking comment.

The Favreau case raised suspicions both from dog owners and from people involved in greyhound protection because he was moving dogs to a state that had its own supply of retired racing dogs to place in homes.

Even if he is permanently suspended, the fate of the dogs remains unclear. Greyhound advocates worry most of them are dead.

Gonsher, the racing department director, said investigators are still trying to track down the dogs.

In addition, he said, they are investigating the Tucson racetrack to ascertain any role it might have had in the dogs' disappearance.

He said a database of all racing dogs in Arizona is being created, and that by Jan. 1, all dog transporters must be licensed. The steps should help prevent similar situations in the future, he said.

http://www.azcentral.com/news/articles/1130greyhound1130.html

TUCSON WEEKLY

NOVEMBER 9, 2006

Dogs Gone

A man with a questionable past was paid to take more than 150 animals from Tucson Greyhound Park--and then they disappeared

By SAXON BURNS

Greyhound Network News Report

Friday, October 26, 2006:  TheArizona Republic reported today on the disappearance of more than 150 greyhounds fromTucson Greyhound Park.  Colorado hauler Richard Favreau had been contracted by the Tucson track to make multiple hauls to his farm in Calhan, Colorado since last November, paying Favreau $150/dog, which is more than double the average hauling fee of $60.  Favreau was supposedly going to place the dogs with adoption groups, but only seven dogs have been accounted for.

            The Arizona Department of Racing Board of Stewards held a two-part hearing for Favreau earlier this month.  According to a racing department document, the state regulatory agency believes Favreau has “disposed of these greyhounds in an inhumane manner.”  Favreau could not provide any verifiable information about the whereabouts of the dogs, but claims he did nothing wrong.

            The stewards levied a maximum fine of $1,000 and suspended his license for 60 days.  The case has been referred to Geoffrey Gonsher, director of the racing department, who will hold a hearing in late November.  Gonsher has the authority to permanently suspend Favreau’s license and fine him up to $5,000.  Gonsher said his investigators are still attempting to locate the dogs; the investigation is still ongoing.

            Greyhound advocates nationwide have put up a $10,000 reward for information.

            Visit  Greyhound Protection League  for additional information.

Sources:  TheArizona Republic:  Michael Clancy;Denver Post:  Mike McPhee