By Beth Fisher

DETROIT (WWJ) – Some animal rights activists are upset that Skecher’s plans to run a Super Bowl commercial that they say depicts Greyhound racing.

Theresa Boostron is with Michigan Retired Greyhounds as Pets and says the dogs are treated inhumanely.

Boostrom owns two former racing dogs and says she wants Skechers to pull this commercial.

“It depicts greyhound racing, which we find unconscionable because of the way these dogs live at the track and they’re confined in crates,” said Boostrom. “They are notoriously injured. They end up with broken legs, lacerations. They die on the track of broken backs, broken necks, heat stroke.”

The president of Skecher’s Fitness Group, Leonard Armato , says protestors haven’t seen the ad.

“None of the protestors have ever seen the commercial, so they’re sort of protesting in the abstract and, you know, we’re a sensitive company. We would never support, you know, cruelty to animals in any way,” says Armato.

Armato says the commercial features a French Bulldog, an underdog that does something remarkable.  The ad promotes Skecher’s GoRun running shoes.

He says that Skechers will not pull the ad: “Skechers is not involved in the debate of greyhound racing – there are a number of groups that like it – there are a number of groups that don’t like it, and all of them are dog lovers and greyhound lovers.”

“The American Humane Association was at the filming of the commercial and vouched for it. No dogs were harmed,” said Armato.”We think people are absolutely gonna love the commercial and by the way, dogs in the Super Bowl is like bread on butter … I mean … it’s something that happens all the time, so we believe once everybody sees the commercial, all of this will die down.”

Some members of the Michigan Retired Greyhounds as Pets planned a protest outside the Skecher’s store at Twelve Oaks Mall in Novi, but security was so tight they didn’t want to risk being arrested.

Comments (36)
  1. Eric Jackson says:

    Leonard Armato just doesn’t get it. By filming their commercial at Tucson Greyhound Park, and using racing greyhounds, Skechers has put themselves right in the middle of the greyhound racing debate. Skechers has aligned themselves directly with an industry that is responsible for the injury, maiming, and death of thousands of greyhounds every year. Shame on Skechers for not doing their homework before they filmed this commercial. There are over 117,000 signatures on a petition asking Skechers to pull this commercial.

  2. Nancy Weller says:

    Wow. This Leonard Armato really has a bad research team. Really?

    He states: ”We think people are absolutely gonna love the commercial and by the way, dogs in the Super Bowl is like bread on butter … I mean … it’s something that happens all the time, so we believe once everybody sees the commercial, all of this will die down.”

    Leonard Armato, while you were filming your fluff ad for ugly shoes with rescued greyhounds, not far behind the scene are greyhounds who do not see the light of day, the joyous run, the happy home. Those hounds, behind your frivilous set risk injury each time they run. They don’t run in some flimsy ad. They run for their lives.

    Shame on you, Skechers. Practice better research, because this will not “die down”.

    1. Eric Jackson says:

      Actually, Nancy, the greyhounds featured in the ad were active racers. When the filming was done, they went back to their cages. What is Skechers going to say when one of the “stars” of their commercial gets hurt or killed on that track?

      1. Nancy says:

        My mistake and thank you Eric. Well, somehow that makes it much worse than what I was lead to believe. So, the star runs off and the real racers go back to the cages? To the kennels of one of the nation’s worst tracks?

        Leonard Armato and research team. So bad a move… You are living in an “advertising” fog.

  3. Cindy Petrillo says:

    I was in disbelief when I heard the interview between Beth Fisher and Theresa.
    I was with Theresa in Novi today. We were unable to distribute pamphlets due to the tight security in the mall.
    The comments by the president of skechers was appalling. He even chuckled and made the remark that people would enjoy it.
    We were hoping to educate people to the plight of the greys. This ad needs to be pulled and replaced with something else.
    Thank you Beth for airing our story and putting up a picture of my beautiful rescue grey Belle..

    1. Nancy says:

      Thank you for being there, Cindy! Skechers has shown themselves to be callous and uncaring. Keep up the fight! I wish I could have been there with you all!

  4. Chris says:

    Can someone tell the author that the word “Urks” in the title doesn’t exist….it’s “Irks”.

  5. Susan Scheide says:

    While there have been cases IN THE PAST of mistreatment of Greyhounds, by in large, Greyhounds are treated with nothing but kindless and love. You CANNOT make a dog run. A sickly dog will not run. An abused dog will not run. And Grey2K is not an “animal rights” group; their a political lobbying organization who is trying to end racing. They don’t care anything for dogs and do NOTHING to actually help the dogs.

    1. Eric Jackson says:

      The problem, Susan, is that when you are done with greyhounds, when they can’t run fast enough to bring in prize money, they are either dumped onto adoption agencies or just killed. That’s why GREY2K USA and all its supporters are trying to end greyhound racing – the dogs deserve better.

      1. Robert Gross says:

        Well Eric, there you go lying again. Greyhounds are never “dumped” into adoption agencies. Many Greyhound adoption groups are financially supported by race tracks, kennel operators, breeders and owners. 90% of all retired Greyhounds are adopted. The remaining dogs are returned to their owners or used for breeding. It should be noted nearly one-third of all donations to Grey2k are allotted toward the salaries and expenses of its husband and wife owners.

      2. Eric Jackson says:

        Many greyhound adoption groups get nothing from the tracks but greyhounds in need of homes. Again, do you have any evidence to support your claim that more than 90% of greyhounds are adopted? Please, back that up with some kind of evidence.

      3. JohnF says:

        Right after you back up your comment with your ‘facts’ Eric. What a hypocrite, if you had at least bothered to post the source of your facts first, you might have had some credence.

  6. Robert Gross says:

    Greyhound Racing is a very safe sport. Injury reports obtained by Grey2k confirm that the rate of injury to racing Greyhounds is less than 0.03%. Most of these are minor injuries. Greyhounds are housed in clean, comfortable, large kennels and are exercised several times a day. Their care is second to none. People like Grey2k board member Eric Jackson, who have never been in a racing kennel or to a breeding farm, continue to repeat the lies and misinformation provided to him by his handlers in the Grey2k corporate office.

    1. JohnF says:

      The other lies are the comments about crates. Our two dogs stay in their crates when my wife and I aren’t around, and all night. So they spend about 16 hours each day in crates at least 5 days a week. Yet, when we tell them ‘time for bed’, they run to their crates. Folks who get upset because dogs spend a significant amount of time in crates are uneducated. Get upset if dogs aren’t getting enough exercise and attention, not because they are in crates.

      1. Eric Jackson says:

        John, if you’re locking your dogs in crates for 16 hours per day, perhaps you should rethink your decision to have pets.

  7. Alicia Heiserer says:

    Thank you Skechers for the great commercial.
    In response to the people who are ignorant of the facts,
    1. If the dogs were kept in cages that they could barely stand nor turn around, they could not walk or run.
    2. If they were fed diseased and rotten meat, they could not run.
    3. If they were abused, they would RUN, but in the opposite direction then the Lure.
    I must be missing something because those animals are healthy, happy and loved. They live with 50+ of their own kind and actually enjoy each others company. Then when their racing career is over, they are petted out where they become spoiled pets, treated better then many people.
    Does sound like too bad of a life to me.
    Regarding their injuries while racing, we were all injured when we were playing when we were young and those of us who participate in sports today get injured too, some even die. But most of the injuries the dogs heal fine from as do we.
    Thanks Skechers for a great commerical and I thank all the sponsors of Superbowls for the wonderful commercials they have put on over the years featuring; dogs, horses, frogs, lizards etc.

    1. Eric Jackson says:

      Alicia, you’re arguing points that nobody has made, and arguing facts with assumptions. First of all, the cage sizes have been posted. Do you have anything to dispute those facts as presented?

      Greyhounds are commonly fed raw, 4D meat. That is meat from dead, down, diseased, and dying animals. It is considered unfit for human consumption. Plants often mix charcoal into the meat to prevent it being sold to human consumers.

      Greyhounds are locked in individual cages. Their only interaction is during turnouts. Otherwise, they are locked inside on their own.

      The difference between you and I being injured while playing, and a racing greyhound being injured while racing, should be obvious to anyone. Children who are injured are not killed as a result of their injuries. Greyhounds who suffer non-life threatening injuries are sometimes euthanized rather than treated. It’s a disgusting practice.

      Children are seen as inherently valuable, but greyhounds are often valued only as long as they are profitable for their owners. When they cease being profitable, due to age or injury, they are no longer valued.

      It is unfortunate that Skechers has chosen to align themselves with this cruel and inhumane industry. There are so many things they could have done, but they chose to glamorize greyhound racing. It’s a shame.

      1. Robert Gross says:

        Once again, more lies from the profit-based Grey2k board member. You state that 4D meat is unfit for human consumption. Well Eric, Greyhounds are not humans. 4D meat is perfectly safe for animal consumption. In fact, if you feed your dog canned food, you’re feeding 4D meat. No Greyhound has been harmed by eating 4D meat. The crates that Greyhounds live in are more than large enough for them to comfortably stand, turn around and lay down. They are out of there crates 5 – 6 times a day for turnout and exercise. There are people in the kennel and around these animals for 8 – 12 hours per day. They are groomed daily, nails and clipped, teeth are cleaned. Greyhounds are sprinted and walked between their races. It should be noted that Eric Jackson has never been to a racing kennel or a breeding farm. He only knows what he has been told to disseminate from the owners of Grey2k.

      2. Alicia Heiserer says:

        You may not have made them on this page and Thank you Robert.
        Greyhounds are commonly fed raw meat, and also dry dog food too. Here is the additional description of raw meat.
        The U.S. Department of Agriculture has strict rules that regulate the source of meat approved for human consumption. Animals that do not meet those restrictions are designated 4D whether or not any of the above adjectives describe the reason for being considered unfit for humans. 4D meat is the primary ingredient in most pet foods, even premium brands. Pet food is cooked which kills the E. Coli bacteria, but also alters its nutritional composition. All attempts to replicate the diets of racing dogs with cooked food have resulted in failure. Racing greyhounds simply do not perform as well on a commercial diet as on one partially composed of raw meat. Many pet owners of a variety of breeds have converted to a B.A.R.F. (Bones and Raw Food) diet similar to typical racing greyhound fare.
        Greyhounds are in their own cages with are right next to at least 2 other cages unless they are on the end. I do not have to touch someone to interact.
        I have not seen one Greyhound euthanized at TGP in my time there instead of being treated for their injury. There is always one STATE HIRED Vet on site along with a Track Vet anytime there is racing going on.
        It is sad that you think a dog is no longer of value once it has stopped racing, very sad.

      3. Eric Jackson says:

        Robert, information from the greyhound industry has been posted previously. Do you have evidence to dispute what has previously been posted?

      4. Eric Jackson says:

        Alicia, it looks like you copied and pasted the information you posted. What was your source for that information?

      5. Robert Gross says:

        The Greyhound industry has provided videos and photos. I have been in hundreds of racing kennels and breeding farms over the 30 years I have been involved with Greyhounds. Since I have experienced this first hand, I am able to make qualified statements as to the treatment and welfare of Racing Greyhounds. You, Eric Jackson, have not seen first hand a racing kennel or breeding farm. You are not qualified to speak on the subject. You have a right to, of course. But your comments are only hearsay, based on what you have been told from Grey2k. Incidentally, Eric Jackson has been invited several times to visit kennels and farms. He has refused.

      6. Eric Jackson says:

        Robert, where are these photos and videos you speak of?

        And speaking of lies, your assertion that I have been invited to visit greyhound sites is a complete fabrication. The exact opposite is true – when a greyhound industry insider asked trainers, farms, and kennels to let me visit, not a single person said yes.

        Again, this is a common tactic with the pro-racing side. Because the industry is essentially indefensible, people like you make up lies and try to direct the conversation in different directions. Then they denigrate the opinions of people who don’t follow their lies, making claims that only they can know the truth, only their opinions should be counted. At the end of the day, greyhounds are still locked in their too small cages. When their racing career is over, too many of them will be killed by owners/trainers/kennel workers.

      7. Robert Gross says:

        Visit the Tucson Greyhound Park Facebook page, and there are videos of the racing kennels. The website allaboutgreyhounds dot com has a lot of information and photos as well. You can see the size of the crates in the photos and videos. They can hardly be considered “too small cages”.Of course Eric Jackson will respond that these are not acceptable because they are provided by the Greyhound Racing community. The bottom line is that Eric Jackson refuses to see it first hand. His group is in the same category as PETA – a radical animal rights group. I’m not trying to denigrate Eric Jackson, I’m just saying that his only ‘evidence” is hearsay. The people feeding him information have a financial stake in lies and misrepresentations about the Greyhound industry.

      8. FredIsDead says:

        Again Eric .. where are yours….what a hypocrite you are.

        I think I will go out and by Skechers just to irk you and your ilk.

  8. Claire Sommers says:

    I adopted my first retired racer in 1998 and I am not irked by the Skechers commercial at all. I am thrilled that Skechers has included greyhounds in their Super Bowl ad. Personally I have been to the track to pick up greyhounds when their racing career is over. I have been to the puppy farms and watched the schooling races. I did not observe any neglect or abuse. The retired racing greyhounds make excellent pets and have left pawprints on my heart.

  9. Nancy says:

    Although I question the intent of the reviewing committee on comments, I will post again.

    Alicia, the term ignorant is in the eye of the beholder. That is a tad brazen and a bit arrogant.

    To address your points:

    1. The dogs ARE kept in those cages. Since they have known nothing but that, they will adapt. Is that best for them? No. Sadly, dogs do learn to adapt to adverse conditions and ill treatment. And no. Those cages are smaller than the dog beds I have for my rescues. They run because they are that cramped for that long.
    2. Read back at #1. They run because they’ve been cramped. It has nothing to do with food. I have had rescues with severe dental issues due to the grade D food fed them. The food is sustinance and nothing more at the track.
    3. Really. Greyhounds are the most affectionate and loyal breds ever. They will return their abuser and rely on them. Ebro ring a bell? Those dogs never ran away.

    Finally, injuries as a child vs. injuries at the track? I don’t see you put down. My friend has a tripod, result of a track injury.

    Careful how you toss out the word ignorant.

    1. Robert Gross says:

      I think the statement “They run because they are that cramped for that long” definitely qualifies as ignorant. I hear a lot of stupid things from Grey2k and their minions, but that must the be most ridiculous.

  10. Alicia Heiserer says:

    You are so right, they each have their own personal space, somewhere they can call their own, their on cage. And animals learn to adapt, just as humans do. And they are not cramped at all.
    2. BS, they do not chase the lure because they are cramped. Lets put you in a place that you can not stretch you legs and see how well you can run. I train human athletes and it just doesn’t work with anyones muscles that way.
    3. They are wonderful animals, but any vet will tell you that an abused dog does not stand strong and straight and run for joy like those Greyhounds.
    Definition of Ignorant: resulting from or showing lack of knowledge. That is my point.

  11. Heather says:

    “The dogs ARE kept in those cages. Since they have known nothing but that, they will adapt.”
    Another ill informed person.
    For the first 12 months of a greyhound life they are not kept in “cages”

    The reason they chase a lure, well umm because it’s what a sight hound does. You can’t teach a dog to chase, just like you can’t teach a lab to retrieve. They do it because it’s in their blood, it’s part of who they are.

    So all you who have “rescued” your hounds. You think they became perfect wonderful, loving pets all because of your love? Let me fill you in, don’t break your arms patting yourselves on the back. They are wonderful, loving pets because of the care and upbringing they received before they ever stepped foot into your home.

  12. Raimondo Campana says:

    My grandmother used to tell me I know it true I read it in the inquire!!! And she believed It all to be true. Unless you take the time to see for your self what goes on in the Greyhound racing industry,You might aswell be reading the Inquire!!!! Greyhounds are as Big a joy to woirk with as they are to have running around your house!!! And anyone that has a retired Racer as a pet Knows that they had been taken care of and are very trusting and would not be if we had abused them when they were ours.

  13. Cindy Petrillo says:


  14. Chiennoir says:

    The Skechers ad will make a world of difference to greyhounds, but not in the way Grey2K warns us about. The nationwide exposure of the breed during one of the most-watched commercials of the year will bring the image of the greyhound into millions of homes. Some of those millions of people will decide to adopt a retired racing greyhound, and that WILL make a positive impact in the lives of these spectacular athletes once they retire.

  15. Grizzer says:

    Skechers telephone # 310-318 3100
    CEO Robert Greenberg, but they will put you through to Leonard Armato’s voice mail (no chance of him actually picking up, but you can leave a message).
    For all of you who think the ad will “make a world of difference” to greyhounds in a positive fashion, write back this time next year and lets see how that theory held up!
    The facts speak for them self.

  16. Tara says:

    I own a greyhound, and she was an ex racer. I have had her almost 3 years and she is the best girl ever. She is loveable and just as sweet as can be. And she has track injuries that were taken care of before I got her. They are fed a high protein diet due to racing. But they can come off that once done racing. I hope that the commercial is tastefull and I hope that it does not promote racing. I dont like the racing part of it no matter what animal it is. But that is just my feelings on it and I am not speaking for anyone else. I know that the greyhounds must get excerise in some way due to my dog is built like a brick house, she is very muscular. So if they were completely kept in crates 24/7 I dont think that she would have the muscles she has. They are alittle thin when they come off the track but my dog has only gained about 7 pounds since getting her and she eats well gets lots of treats and is a couch potatoe. So i dont think that they are dogs that are meant to have alot of fat on them. And upon researching greyhound history they were used for hunting back in 2000 bc. I just hope the commercial is tastefull and respects greyhounds, I also hope it helps promote greyhound awareness. And i have seen where dogs come in from the track and on there muzzle that they wear at the track has been written on by the employess telling them they are going to miss them and they love them so i doubt the dogs are being mistreated at the track. they just dont get the home enviroment of love, and constantly having the same people around everyday.

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