Authorities believe two men accused of abusing an injured racing greyhound have fled prosecution.
“I can only assume based on the circumstantial evidence that they left as a result of the investigation that was ongoing,” Brooke County Prosecutor Joseph Barki said Monday afternoon.
James P. Grace and James E. Bloom are accused of denying care to an injured greyhound. The details of the case are outlined in a 2013 investigation by the state Racing Commission, obtained by the Daily Mail with a Freedom of Information Act request.
Grace was a kennel manager and Bloom a trainer of record for the Beech Bottom location of Cardinal Kennel, located near the dog racing track at Wheeling Island Hotel, Casino and Racetrack. Although Grace told investigators he thought the dog’s leg might have been broken, he and Bloom said they decided the cost of treatment would lead the owner to have the dog destroyed.
An investigator reported a kennel worker said the dog was only receiving aspirin for the injury. In the report, Bloom said he thought the animal needed further care but Grace told him the leg could heal on its own.
“I told him that I thought she should go to the vet. Her leg was bleeding, dangling, she couldn’t put weight on it,” Bloom said, referring to Grace, in a statement to commission investigators.
“It looked broken, she was wobbly, she’d try but she couldn’t.”
The commission revoked Grace’s training permit and suspended Bloom’s for six months. In light of the case and at the urging of Grey2KUSA, a national organization advocating for the end of greyhound racing, the commission also created an animal cruelty policy for the first time.
The commission already had some authority to punish trainers, breeders or owners accused of cruelty, according to Daily Mail archives. The new policy specifically outlines that authority though, in addition to requiring the commission to report any alleged cases of abuse, neglect or mistreatment to local law enforcement.
The commission voted to refer the case to the Ohio County prosecutor’s office. Wheeling is located in Ohio County but Beech Bottom, the location of the kennel, is in Brooke County.
Barki said his office reviewed the information provided and concluded, after their own investigation, there was enough evidence to charge both men with misdemeanors.
“However, both men have fled this area, with addresses now unknown, and have yet to be served with these criminal complaints.” Barki said in a letter to Christine Dorchak, general counsel for Grey2kUSA.
Law enforcement looked at other addresses affiliated with the men but didn’t have any luck, Barki said. Their names have since been entered into a national criminal database for outstanding warrants.
It’s not uncommon for people facing even misdemeanor charges to flee, Barki said. Many in the greyhound racing industry aren’t originally from West Virginia either.
The state will pay for extradition if the men are found in neighboring states, but they typically won’t cover those costs on misdemeanor charges if they’re found in California, for example.
“It’s not uncommon for someone to be wanted on a warrant to be located, it happens weekly almost,” Barki said.
“At this point, we’ve done everything we can to serve them.”
Dorchak thanked Barki for attempting to file charges, and said her organization would also try to track down Grace and Bloom.
Attempts by the Daily Mail to contact Grace, Bloom and Cardinal Kennel owner Robert Mackey were unsuccessful.
John Myers, the commission’s acting director, and Sam Burdette, head of the West Virginia Greyhound Owners and Breeders Association, didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment.