Woman Arrested for Helping Kill More Than 2,000 Greyhounds Is Training Dogs in Florida Again

Thumbnail image for greyhound graveyard edit.JPG
Authorities found the bodies of more than 2,000 greyhounds buried on an 18-acre property. Most had gun shot wounds in the head and neck.
A woman arrested on felony charges for helping kill more than 2,000 greyhounds from all over the state has been training racing dogs again in Florida as recently as last week.

Ursula O'Donnell was charged with felony animal cruelty in November 2002 after allegedly hiring an Alabama man to shoot and bury greyhounds under her care.

According to documents obtained by the Juice, O'Donnell allegedly sent dogs from as far away as Palm Beach and Orlando to Robert Rhodes, a security guard at the Pensacola dog track, who told police he shot the greyhounds for about $10 each. When Rhodes died before trial, the case was dropped.

After the jump, more about O'Donnell, what the track did when notified of the investigation, and a photo of the massive greyhound graveyard uncovered just across state lines. (WARNING: The photo is graphic and potentially disturbing.)

When police officers discovered the scene in Baldwin County, Alabama, many were overcome. For more than 20 years, Rhodes crassly (and illegally) disposed of greyhounds that were no longer fast enough to compete on the track by shooting them with a .22-caliber pistol. He told investigators at the time that he always killed the animals with a single shot to the back of the head so "they never knew it was coming." But many of the bodies uncovered on Rhodes' property had been shot in the snout or the neck.

Though O'Donnell denied knowledge of the operation at the time -- she claimed her employees sent dogs to Rhodes without her knowing -- a criminal investigation by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation found a check written by O'Donnell to Rhodes for $230, dated just before Rhodes' arrest. Using Rhodes' standard pricing, that was the fee for the execution of 23 dogs.

This is a picture taken of the greyhound graveyard as it was unearthed.

Alabama greyhound graveyard.JPG
Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of pari-mutuel wagering
You'd think such a thing would preclude an individual from working with greyhounds ever again, but as of the start of this year, O'Donnell was listed as the "trainer of record" for Free Spirit Kennel, which races dogs at the Naples-Fort Myers Track and Entertainment Center. That means that O'Donnell is personally responsible for the welfare of 50 to 75 dogs.

Then, around January 10, about the same time the track was notified about a current invesitgation, Ursula was no longer listed as the trainer of record for Free Spirit Kennel.

The Naples track is owned by the Miami-based Havenick family, which also owns Magic City Casino in Miami (formerly the Flagler dog track). Izzy Havenick, vice president of both tracks, told me that as soon as he and his brother learned of O'Donnell's background, they asked the kennel to replace her.

"This was just brought to our attention," Havenick said. "She never worked for us in any way, shape, or form. All of the kennels are owned and operated completely independently. But as soon as we found out, we asked the kennel to make the change, and they did."

Free Spirit Kennel's new trainer of record is Ryan O'Donnell.

Havenick said he never met Ursula or Ryan O'Donnell and doesn't know what their relationship is. "O'Donnell is a very common name in dog racing," Havenick said.

Carey Theil, executive director of Grey2K, the national antiracing lobby, told me the organization is pleased that Ursula O'Donnell will no longer be doing business with these two dog tracks.

"The Havenick family should be applauded for doing the right thing in asking Ursula O'Donnell to step down," Theil said. "We are grateful for their decision. The National Greyhound Association claims that they police their industry effectively, but this incident proves otherwise. The fact that Ursula was allowed to work again in the greyhound racing industry is very troubling."

Havenick says he was as surprised as anyone to hear of Ursula's past, since she was properly licensed with the state. "We would never allow anyone who is even questionably cruel to a dog to be associated with our properties," he said. "If you get a license from the state, we assume the state has checked you out."

He added: "We are dog guys. We love the dogs as much as anyone. We like dogs more than people."

UPDATE: Read the National Greyhound Association's statement on the matter here.



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53 comments
michellecurtisrn
michellecurtisrn

These bastards need to die a slow painful death for this!

Maryzpugz
Maryzpugz

Have some sort of gambling that does not involve living things who cannot make the choice to participate. Simple. Shut these places down.

Training Dog Leash
Training Dog Leash

Those cruel killers should be punished in their mean acts . Thanks for sharing this . :D

Bob
Bob

Someone should put a bullet in her throat and see how she likes it

Ben
Ben

Whats the big deal!? Every track does this! My sister works as a vet nurse and they put down 30-40 perfectly fine greyhounds every week just because they can't run fast.

The industry is to blame,so wasteful. Greyhounds deserve better.

Don't support dog racing! Adopt a greyhound!

If you think this article is unique, wake up! This happens everywhere!!

JANE HAZA
JANE HAZA

May she burn in hell painfully and forever, this makes me sick

Anonymous
Anonymous

FUKING ARREST THAT STUPID FUKING CUNT HOLE!!!

Simon
Simon

Obviously what she did was horrible but lets blame the industry and not this woman. I knew Ursula from a past life in NH and she is actually a very nice woman and mother who not only loves her profession but loves the dogs she trains. You people need to get off her back and focus on the real problem.

AaronC
AaronC

Greyhound racing is inherently cruel. Trainers are by definition, inherently cruel. Don't for a moment think otherwise.

Run for you life dogs.Dying to entertain you.

Anonymous
Anonymous

"Unt says:This is terrible thing. I think this will be the end of dog racing.Im sure there r others who knew what was going on. Sad days for dogs. What you think goin to happen when every track is shut down. How many dogs will die then cuz there arent enough homes to adopt them all"

We can all thank Ursula O'Donnell for that!

Unt
Unt

This is terrible thing. I think this will be the end of dog racing.Im sure there r others who knew what was going on. Sad days for dogs. What you think goin to happen when every track is shut down. How many dogs will die then cuz there arent enough homes to adopt them all

unt
unt

R u in dog business cuz my family is. We do know her. A standard fee of transporting dogs is $10 a dog.Y would she think he would do anything w/ those dogs but what he was supposed to.I know i wouldnt even have considered some one would take my dogs and do something so horrible. She was paying him to take the dogs to b adopted

JJ
JJ

"Unt", I will not judge Ursula. I will make my comments well known though. C'mon, how can you seriously sit there and stick up for her?! You know she knew what that man was doing!! You don't think she called and checked on them dogs?! The report or article stated clearly that O'Donnell gave to Rhodes a check of $230, dated just before Rhodes' arrest. Using Rhodes' standard pricing, that was the fee for the execution of 23 dogs. Are you seriously going to sit there and say she has no knowledge of what was going on? Ursula may put up a front that she had no idea what was going on, so she doesn't go to jail, it's "poor innocent Ursula, she knew of nothing, she loves the greys, she would never harm a soul, she's a great human being"! I aint buying it. This family may have never been known to do something like this before but that don't mean a damn thing. And you know damn well she would have been found GUILTY if it had went to trial, you know damn well she would have! The reason she was still working in the kennel is because The Naples/Fort Myers greyhound track didn't do their work right! It is Gods place to judge, and well, we'll leave her faith in Gods hands, My Opinion is, the rotten woman should go to jail!

Unt
Unt

I dont think you people get it. This woman had NO idea that is what the guy was doing w/ the dogs.This family has never been known for anything like this b4. Ursula would have been found not guilty if it had made it to trial.The reason she still was working in a kennel is because of her love for the dogs. If you dont know her personally how can you judge her. It isnt mans place to judge. It is Gods.

kevin jacobson
kevin jacobson

that post was something i had read online but thought that guy was 100% in the right, letting her and her family stay in the business with that kind of stuff in the public eye will eventually lead to all tracks to shut down, this woman and her family need to be banned from the greyhound business for good!!!! poor animals, never saw it coming!!!

Anonymous
Anonymous

She was dropped from all charges because the man died. For the people standing up for her, are you insane? With all I've read and heard it is so obvious that she knew what was going on. I agree with Kevin, if anyone in the O'Donnell family knew this was going on, I would also work with other tracks to shut their kennel down! Gremlin, how stupid are you?! Let me guess, you think Ursula is not in the wrong because the charges were dropped, and therefor she knew nothing about it and she is innocent! Horrible people, get out of the greyhound business! Your giving us a bad name!

kevin jacobson
kevin jacobson

If anyone in the O'Donnell family knew this was being done I would be working with the tracks to strip them of their kennel. I don't care if it was 7 years, 10 years, 20 years this event took place. This is about doing the RIGHT thing before another 13 tracks are bye bye.

Jenny
Jenny

Ban her and anyone doing business with her. Its the only option to prove we protect the dogs and the face of the industry.

gremlin
gremlin

Mr davis just to clear the air i have all my teath and a messed up smile far from a redneck but its all good if you need to judge people a redneck would be a tall white haired man with side kick name noni. and to who wrote the last three comments under my name i didnt know you where worried about penis size wait a min penises havin sex with mastiffs amstedbru is that you?

Abby
Abby

You all need to think back 5,10,or maybe even 20 year....remember that sweet innocent dog, cat or even child that you house sat/baby sat for. Today do you know where, or how each and every animal or child you handed back to there owners, mothers, or fathers are? Some have been abused, molested, or even killed. So sad but true!! So now let me ask you this should we assume that you should have knowen or that in some way we should blame you because at one point you took care of them and even loved them its your fault right!!! Wrong so very wrong nor is it Ursulas fault what happend to the poor. innocent greyhounds that she onced LOVED and CARED for. I can honestly say since I have knowen Ursula and seen the love she has for every animal that deep in my heart i know she would have not knowenly sent those lovely creatures to a person so cruel. So those of you who say you know for sure that she did it the only way is if you knew at the time not threw this horribale twisted story, and that would make as just as guily as you say she is.

gremlin
gremlin

I also have a small penis, I am hung like a mouse

gremlin
gremlin

I like to abuse greyhounds and other animals.

I suffer from self-esteem issues, and I make myself feel better by abusing helpless animals.

gremlin
gremlin

Cause you know her idiot....get a life and stay out of peoples you dont know anything about...follower!!!!

Dave Davis
Dave Davis

Gremlin, you are an idiot, let me guess, you are a toothless redneck who works at a track.

Ursula is a lying cunt.

gremlin
gremlin

I feel bad for you people is your life that bad that you need to make ursulas life hell just to feel good about your selves get off old shit that was droped write to vic if you people want old shit brought up he was guilty. question to amstaffbru is thats your recomendation a mastif is that what worked for you your a real champ to take on that there is something for the papers to write about.

Gremlins thought of the day : worry about your selve keep out of business thats not yours

amstaffbru
amstaffbru

Lock her up,throw away the key,feed her alpo and let a mastiff mount her!!!!!!

Anonymous
Anonymous

lock her up,throw away the key,feed her alpo.

these angels need justice
these angels need justice

A friends of mine emailed this to me earlier & is most definitely touched our hearts. O' Donnell has no soul. These angels need justice to be served. Let's Revoke her license so that this never happens again. ________________________________________

Even though Ms. O'Donnell escaped trial, the state has strong evidence that she participated in a conspiracy that led to the deaths of a large number of greyhounds by gunshot.

Please call and e-mail the Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering today, and politely ask the Director to open an investigation, and consider revoking her license. You can reach the Division at:

Milton Champion, DirectorFlorida Department of Business and Professional Regulation850-488-9130Call.Center@dbpr.state.fl.us

*Please send your e-mail today. The greyhounds can�t speak for themselves and depend on us to be their voice.*

For the greyhounds,

Christine Dorchak and Carey TheilGREY2K USA

alexia j catrillo
alexia j catrillo

This story makes me sick to my stomach. I can't wait to see her where she needs to be, behind bars. So she denies having knowledge of the operation at the time but yet she claimed her employees sent dogs to Rhodes without her knowing. I can't believe she would put this on her workers. It is a senseless crime and this disgusting woman needs to be in jail! A Criminal Investigation by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation found a check written by O'Donnell to Rhodes for $230, dated just before Rhodes' arrest. Using Rhodes' standard pricing, that was the fee for the execution of 23 dogs. I am very, very, very, shocked that they let the case go. And even more shocked that they let her work again with the greyhounds. I also agree that all her licenses should be revoked and she should never, ever, ever be able to work with or around greyhounds or any animal for that matter.

Sarah
Sarah

"Sheila says:this rotten bitch should be buried with the bones of those poor animals she killed, when will the law finally stop her?"

I couldn't have said it any better. It is so obvious she is guilty and knew exactly what she was doing when handing Mr. Rhodes the greys. "He shot the greyhounds for about $10 each." Horrible Woman! Guarantee she would have went to jail if Rhodes hadn't died. How could she live with herself. KNOWING she was helping kill these babies. Rhodes was shooting them with a .22-caliber pistol. He told investigators at the time that he always killed the animals with a single shot to the back of the head so "they never knew it was coming." But many of the bodies uncovered on Rhodes' property had been shot in the snout or the neck.

I cannot help but have so much hatred towards this woman. No person on earth can should be able to get away with this. And for The Naples/Fort Myers Greyhound Track to have let her work again is just unbelievable. She helped kill 2,000 greyhounds. She needs to be in jail. "You are a horrific person, and you need to get exactly what you deserve for taking the life away of these beautiful babies!" When will justice be served for these beautiful angels?! I have nothing but pity for this woman. What a horrible, horrible, person.

greyhound lover
greyhound lover

Thank you gremlin,she is an animal lover and a very good person.....

gremlin
gremlin

whats the world coming to when people have nothin better to do then mess with someones life you people have your heads stuck so far up your asses you have no clue whats going on ursula is a good person who has love for her dogs if a case is droped its as good as not guilty...... and to u ursyla dont let people get to you some are to bussy burning crosses insted of seeing what people are really about

grey2k lies
grey2k lies

Why isn't OJ in jail?????? Because like o'donnell...NOT GUILTY!!!!!!!!!

annie Maniscalco
annie Maniscalco

The State should be held responsible for this women. Some trooper should hit her from behind...

lesley c phillips
lesley c phillips

This person(O'donnell)should be in prison. How is it that she was not punished by the law?Of course all her licenses should be revoked, but she should also serve time for what she has done.As an owner and fosterer of greyhounds from the Naples/Ft myers track, I am really sickened by this terrible and cruel act of killing all these beautiful and loving dogs.They never had a chance.The system failed.

smith
smith

Who is going to jail? No one can go to jail for a case that was dropped 8 years ago.

amy jones
amy jones

i'm glad that she is going to jail she got what she paid for you you gotta take care of the greyhounds like food water wak them take good care of them not to kill them cause i work at an animal shelter in sudbury mass called buddy dog humane society we neavr put theme to sleep we are no kill shelter we put dogs up for adoptions thank you amy jones millis mass.( boston ma)

Smith
Smith

Before all of you continue to discriminate about another human beings life. Why don't you look into the case a little more and READ that the case was dropped. Also, who knows how much it cost for a trainer to pet out a greyhound? I bet none of you, it's about $200 give or take (wait how much was O'Donnells check written out for? oh 230$). The dog must be spayed or neutered, and up to date on all shots before even being considered for adoption and the trainer pays for hauling the dog to whatever adoption agency it is going to. The dogs are looked out for. Do you know that 19 percent of dogs owned through out the United States (not racing greyhounds) were adopted from an animal shelter? That's about 1,472,500 dogs that were found homeless, given up, and mistreated. Also, researchers estimate that over 40,000 people in the United States of America are associated with professional dog fighting. Why don't you go after these people, people who abuse dogs, mistreat them, and abandon them. You can not tell me that there has not been a time in your life where you have been wrongly accused of doing something, right? Stop trying to ruin someones life about something where there case was dropped, do you know her personally, have you ever met O'Donnell? I doubt it. And to you ms. "Shelia" saying you wish upon someones death is calling for it yourself. "Shelly Bee", once again an incorrect statement. Actually the name O'Donnell is MORE common in the business then Smith or Jones. And "John", once a greyhound has left the kennel and is put on a truck to get adopted it is out of the trainers hands what happens to the dogs unless you bring them there yourself.

Smith
Smith

Before all of you continue to discriminate about another human beings life. Why don't you look into the case a little more and READ that the case was dropped. Also, who knows how much it cost for a trainer to pet out a greyhound? I bet none of you, it's about $200 give or take (wait how much was O'Donnells check written out for? oh 230$). The dog must be spayed or neutered, and up to date on all shots before even being considered for adoption and the trainer pays for hauling the dog to whatever adoption agency it is going to. The dogs are looked out for. Do you know that 19 percent of dogs owned through out the United States (not racing greyhounds) were adopted from an animal shelter? That's about 1,472,500 dogs that were found homeless, given up, and mistreated. Also, researchers estimate that over 40,000 people in the United States of America are associated with professional dog fighting. Why don't you go after these people, people who abuse dogs, mistreat them, and abandon them. You can not tell me that there has not been a time in your life where you have been wrongly accused of doing something, right? Stop trying to ruin someones life about something where there case was dropped, do you know her personally, have you ever met O'Donnell? I doubt it. And to you ms. "Shelia" saying you wish upon someones death is calling for it yourself. "Shelly Bee", once again an incorrect statement. Actually the name O'Donnell is MORE common in the business then Smith or Jones. And "John", once a greyhound has left the kennel and is put on a truck to get adopted it is out of the trainers hands what happens to the dogs unless you bring them there yourself.

Anonymous
Anonymous

Floridians:

Contact your state racing association, CALL THEM, and demand they revoke her licensing:

http://www.myfloridalicense.co...

Folks from other states: if you have a greyhound track, print out this story and mail it to them: get her name put out there so they'll know it's her when she registers in another state!

Sheila
Sheila

this rotten bitch should be buried with the bones of those poor animals she killed, when will the law finally stop her?

Ann
Ann

The name O'donnell is like smith in the dog industry. I spent 23 yrs in the business and am proud of it. If you hate me, I don't care. But I know my dogs were well taken care of and never abused. We are not all bad. It's like dog fighting, if one person is caught fighting dogs, that means that everyone who has a pit bull is fighting them. If one mother is accused of abusing her children, that means that all mothers abused their childre. I am by no means sticking up for Ursula but she had a long record of training dogs and hasn't got a very good reputation for being a pleasant person. A little blame should go to the Florida State Racing Commision to continue giving this person a license to train or handle dogs in Florida. O'Donnell money goes a long way. All tracks are under the same laws and the track has to take some responsibility for allowing the racing commision to "look the other way" when they are supposed to be doing backround checks on everyone who applies for a trainer's license. Being an O'donnell, I suspect she will show up either in another state or on a farm where there is no policing by the tracks or racing commissions.

Lulu
Lulu

just horrible...:-(

Susan
Susan

Mel, I'm with you.... who cares if it is old... has this woman been taken care of? Has the situation been addressed..... Where is the concern for animals...accountability??

Mel
Mel

Who cares whether the story is old or not asdk, the bottom line is that it's deplorable!

asdk
asdk

dragging up more old story, One Sided MikeIt's Getting Old

Shelly Bee
Shelly Bee

It's not like the last name of O'Donnell is so common like Smith or Jones.

The reason why greyhound racing is dying is because of total lack of accountability in the industry and the very fact that dogs die and continue to die and will always die as long as greyhound racing is allowed to exist.

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