Illness spreads among dogs at local race track

April 12, 2012 1:54:37 AM PDT
Six dogs have died and others are sick from a mystery illness at a local race track.

At Gulf Greyhound Park it's far from business as usual. Outside the race track is empty, and inside the only greyhounds to gamble on right now can be seen on TV screens.

Gulf Greyhound Park General Manager Sally Briggs said, "The reason we've canceled racing is because of the safety of the greyhounds."

Briggs temporarily shut down live racing here after six young dogs housed on the property died over the last three weeks. Briggs says it appears a few of the dogs came down with a highly contagious respiratory disease commonly known as kennel cough.

"These dogs evidently had a different or worse strain, as far as the vets can tell," Briggs said. "So they got much worse than any of the other greyhounds that were ill."

Briggs says staff has been using the downtime disinfecting the kennels and other areas the greyhounds could have possibly been exposed to the airborne illness.

"We have heard that someone did bring some dogs in to put in one of the kennels and they may have already been contagious," Briggs said.

About 600 privately owned greyhounds are housed in 10 kennels at the race track. Not all of the dogs are active racers.

The Texas Race Commission's chief vet has been testing the dogs that died.

Dr. Ken Quirk said, "They all succumbed to a severe pneumonia."

Dr. Quirk says, so far, the state's tests have not confirmed whether the dogs died from a virus or the kennel cough.

"We suspect that it fits with a mild type of disease, but we can't conclude that without positive findings," he said.

For now, live dog races here will remain on hold as vets continue treating surviving dogs with antibiotics.

Administrators here at Gulf Greyhound Park told me all of the remaining dogs here appear to be healthy. They say they hope to have the track open for live racing again by Sunday.

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