Food poisoning cited in greyhound deaths at Daytona Beach dog track

Officials continue to investigate illness at Daytona Beach Kennel Club & Poker Room

DAYTONA BEACH, Fla – Some health officials now suspect food poisoning in the deaths of two greyhounds and the illnesses of 97 others at the Daytona Beach Kennel Club & Poker Room.

On April 6, kennel workers found one dog dead in a pool of blood and another one gravely ill. State reports show that 97 other greyhounds in the same kennel exhibited either vomiting or diarrhea or both. The gravely ill dog was euthanized, while the others recovered.

"When we first heard about it, we sent our track vet over to do what he did and he certainly did  all he could do and probably helped save any other greyhounds that were stressed out," said Dan Francati, president of the Daytona Beach Kennel Club and Poker Room.

The Kennel Club immediately turned over food samples for the state of Florida to investigate.

On April 8, the Department of Agriculture tested "Purina Dog Chow,"--"Pedigree Adult Dog Food," and two raw beef products.

Carey Theil, executive director of GREY2K USA, the largest greyhound protection organization called "4D meat." He said it's a low-grade meat that's transported across state lines.

"The greyhound racing industry uses a form of cheap meat that comes from diseased and dying animals deemed unfit for human consumption," said Theil.

The state Department of Agriculture suspected the dog food mixture had E. coli contamination but couldn't prove it because of testing issues. It also said the way the meat is handled can increase the risk of being contaminated.

On Thursday, GREY2K filed a complaint with the Food and Drug Administration hoping it'll change its guidelines on the meat the racing industry uses and how it's being prepared.

Francati said the Kennel Club hasn't had another problem since April and believes it was just an isolated incident.

The Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation is also investigating.

About the Author:

Loren Korn is a native Texan who joined the News 6 team as a reporter in May 2014. She was born and raised in Houston and graduated from the University of Texas at Austin with a degree in Journalism.