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Tragic death of greyhounds

by Jane Smith

Posted on July 25, 2006 at 7:26 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 4 at 2:40 PM


I've gotten a few emails from viewers about the Greyhound story I broke on Monday, July 24th, so I thought I'd let you know how the story unfolded.
I got an annonymous tip from a viewer that 35 dogs died from the heat over the weekend in Eagle Creek. The caller wanted to know why the media didn't know about this. At first, it sounded like a possible cover up.
Once I started investigating, I began to realize it was a series of unfortunate events that lead to the tragedy.
The owners of Washburn Kennel went to a family reunion at the coast Friday, leaving 52 dogs at their kennel. It was the first time they left the dogs for longer than an afternoon in 10 years. Most of the greyhounds were being cooled off by an air conditioner. But with temperatures in the triple digits that day, the a/c unit quit working, sadly 34 of the dogs died. Another had to be put down the next day.
The family had a worker checking on the dogs. The greyhounds were left alone for six hours. The veternarian who put down 35th dog tells me they died from heat exhaustion in about an hour.
She says it probably wouldn't have made a difference if the family had been home.
The owner tells me he checked the air conditioner and cleaned it before they left for the reunion. His wife also says she bought the unit for their house, but decided to put in the kennel so her "babies" could be comfortable. The family is distraught. I don't think the impact of the dog's deaths has sunk in.
The Oregon Racing Commission is investigating, but says there was no wrong doing. It considers the deaths an accident. A deputy with Clackamas County Sheriff's Office went to the house Friday night, but left after the Commission said it was accidental.
The kennel owners have a great reputation for breeding greyhounds. They've been in the business for 20 years.
They say even though they make their livlihood from breeding dogs, those Greyhounds were their friends.
While I understand the outrage many of you feel that 35 dogs are dead, from my observation, it is the family who is truly heartbroken.