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November 7, 2010 / V A Nichols

Mobile greyhound-racing kennel owner in trouble again

Kennel at Mobile Greyhound Park shut down

Published: Saturday, November 06, 2010, 7:14 AM

Mark R. Kent, Press-Register

A kennel at Mobile Greyhound Park has been shut down and its trainer’s license has been revoked, a Mobile County Racing Commission official said this week.

The revocation of Harold Williams’ license came after his Florida license was taken away in the wake of an investigation at a Panhandle dog track kennel, racing Commissioner Mike Box said.

Williams, of Atlantic Beach, Fla., trained greyhounds housed at No Limit Sports to run in Mobile.

Ryan Eller, managing partner at Mobile Greyhound Park, said Williams’ brother, Ronnie Williams, owns No Limit.

The revocation will become official at the commission’s next meeting, set for Nov. 17, according to Box.

According to Jan Krebs, vice president of the Somerville, Mass.-based advocacy group GREY2K USA, the Williams brothers are involved in a kennel at Ebro Greyhound Park in Ebro, Fla.

That track is located between Panama City and Bonifay, in the central Panhandle.

Ronnie Williams, of Ponce de Leon, Fla., was charged Oct. 30 with 37 felony counts of animal cruelty after 37 dead greyhounds were found the day before at the Ebro kennel, sheriff’s officials in Florida’s Washington County said.

A message left at the kennel in Florida on Friday was not immediately returned.

Washington County Sheriff’s Deputy Steve Russ initially could not enter the Florida kennel because the stench was overwhelming, he wrote in one of the reports.

When an officer with a breathing device walked through the kennel, he saw dead dogs in cages and plastic bags. Five dogs were still alive, according to the reports.

Three of the living dogs had duct tape wrapped around their necks.

“The tape was tight enough the dogs could barely breathe,” Russ wrote.

Some of the dead dogs also had tape wrapped around their necks, according to another report written by Sgt. Wade Boan.

According to Russ’ report, Ronnie Williams told investigators that the dogs were all fine when he had checked on them two days earlier, and blamed their deaths on the malfunctioning of the kennel’s air conditioner.

Williams was in the Washington County Jail, with bail set at $74,000, sheriff’s spokeswoman Andrea L. Gainey said. She added that Harold Williams faces no charges in connection with the Ebro operation.

Eller called the Ebro situation “a true tragedy.”

Eller said a joint inspection at the Mobile kennel on Monday by track officials and the racing commission revealed conditions that were “found to be quite satisfactory.” But he said the Florida investigation prompted the greyhound track to terminate its contract with the kennel here.

Box said the action by Florida officials left the racing commission no choice but to revoke Harold Williams’ license.

“We have a reciprocal agreement with other states that have greyhound racing,” Box said.

Mobile County Racing Commission documents provided to the Press-Register by Krebs show that Harold Williams has been in trouble with Mobile racing officials in the past.

On Jan. 16, he was fined $50 and forfeited purse winnings after a dog named Kiowa Fly Lucia tested positive for cocaine after a race on Dec. 23, 2009, commission documents show.

Krebs said the drugging of dogs “calls into question the integrity of wagers being placed at Alabama dog tracks.”

On Oct. 4, Harold Williams was fined $75 and placed on six months probation for what was described as “an act inconsistent with the best interests of greyhound racing.”

Box said neither of these incidents were factors in Wednesday’s license revocation.

Eller said that as many of No Limit’s dogs as possible will be allowed to continue racing in Mobile. “We are trying to accommodate the owners, who had nothing to do with the kennel closing,” he said.

Eller said animals kept at No Limit will be placed with other kennels or kept under the care of the Greyhound Park’s management.

He added that the park will “review our system of controls and will do whatever is necessary to ensure the continued humane treatment of all racing greyhounds here in Mobile.”

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