Greyhound racing: a dying industry?
Dog racing became legal in the early 1930s and by the 1950’s there were about 50 tracks in 24 states, becoming a multimillion dollar business. After the 1980’s, greyhound racing dropped dramatically. Today, only 7 States allow dog racing in the US, with a total of 21 tracks. A total of 10,657 individual dogs were registered to race in 2013 as compared to 26,277 in 2003, a decline of 59%.
Confinement & Transportation
The average greyhound stands between 23 inches and 30 inches tall at the shoulder, and weigh between 50 and 85 pounds. They live in warehouse-like kennels that are supposed to be large enough for them to at least stand up and turn around, but the standard minimum size of dog track cages are is 32 inches high, by 31 inches wide, by 42 inches deep, making it difficult for the larger dogs.
Dogs normally get transported from racetrack to racetrack during their careers, sometimes across the country. During this process, dogs are transported in tight conditions, with little to no ventilations, via aluminum trailers or rental vans. In recent years, there have been several media-documented cases of racing dogs dying during transport.
Injuries & Death
During races, many dogs suffer leg fractures, cardiac arrest, spinal cord paralysis, and broken necks, and not all injures are reported to the public.
Thousands of dogs are killed when they are injured. They are also killed when they are no longer profitable or become a liability. Multiple greyhounds are killed annually. Fortunately, some dogs get sent to rescue groups.
Food & Health
Greyhounds get fed meat derived from dying, diseased, disabled and dead livestock that has been deemed unfit for human consumption (4D’s). Adoption groups often report receiving dogs in a general state of neglect, abuse, or with severe parasite, flea and tick infestation.
Today, there are 300 greyhound breeding kennels. The greyhound puppies’ ears are tattooed with registration information at a few months of age. When they are ready to get rid of the dogs, some cut off their ears before discarding them.
While some breeding facilities may treat their dogs better than others, they are often kept outside, in large dirt pens with minimal shelter. Greyhounds are very susceptible to cold and hot weather.
Performance Enhancing Drugs
Even though the trainers who use performance enhancing drugs on their dogs are subject to criminal penalties, loss of their racing licenses and permanent bans from the National Greyhound Association, evidence shows this is an on-going practice.
The dogs are trained to chase a lure which is normally and artificial 'hare' or 'rabbit', on a track until the greyhounds cross the finish line. However, there have been cases where real rabbits have been found to be used as it is said to be more effective. In 2011, a Texas greyhound trainer had to surrender his license after he was caught on video using live rabbits to train dogs.
What does the Humane Society has to say about dog racing?
“The HSUS opposes greyhound racing. This practice leads to an unacceptable level of greyhound exploitation and suffering solely for profit. The industry promotes and tolerates an overproduction of dogs, resulting in an annual surplus numbering in the thousands, many of whom will end up being destroyed. The sheer waste of life is a scandal. We work to eliminate dog racing tracks where they currently exist, to prevent the legalization of racing in states where it is not permitted, and to prevent the establishment of racing tracks in communities where none now exists”
What can I do to help?
There are many ways you can help end the Greyhound racing industry:
- Do not attend Greyhound races.
- Educate family and friends about the animal welfare problems and safety concerns related to Greyhound races.
- Consider adopting a retired greyhound and encourage people you know to do the same. Greyhounds make wonderful family pets, and adoption events are held all over. The dogs can also be found at rescues and shelters.