Greyhounds are amazing, sweet, and undeniably fast dogs, which means they're perfectly suited for racing. That is, unless you take into account how genuinely harmful greyhound racing can be. Dog racing itself is potentially deadly for the participants, and greyhound racing dogs sometimes suffer lifelong animal abuse, or a retirement that consists of abandonment or euthanasia. These dark dog racing facts are nothing new, yet dog racing persists in Great Britain, Australia, and even the United States to this day.
For those unsure why greyhound racing is bad, you need only take a look at how the greyhounds are kept. They are kept in cages for most of their day, they are fed low-quality meat, and they rarely receive any companionship or affection. For the dogs that are abused, these conditions can be even worse.
Fortunately, more and more people are fighting to keep these dogs off the track and out of abusive situations. During the 2018 US Midterms, Florida citizens voted to ban dog racing, and racktracks are required to put their runs to a halt by December 31, 2020.
Please be warned that this article contains descriptions of cruelty to greyhounds. But if it's hard to take in, just imagine how much harder it is for the dogs themselves.
When A Greyhound Retires, It Often Simply Vanishes
While racing tracks, owners, and trainers are supposed to keep account of what happens to the dogs once they retire, this is generally not the case. This case was perhaps most obvious in the UK, where greyhound racing still continues. The League Against Cruel Sports published estimates on how many dogs vanished, despite being registered during racing, and the results were grim. LACS estimated that around 1,000 of the 8,000 greyhounds that retired from racing in a year were not only never rehomed, but they were completely unaccounted for.
Although the GBGB, which governs greyhound racing in the UK, requires owners to register their dogs and account for them, owners do not have to give any evidence that a new home has been found. They just have to say that the dog has been rehomed. In Australia and the United States, racing greyhound births are not well recorded, so it's impossible to know exactly how many simply disappeared to labs or euthanasia.
There Have Been Arrests For Dogs That Were Starved To Death
Although most trainers and owners that abuse greyhounds are never discovered or investigated, a few have been brought to justice. According to the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, there were "2,200 state disciplinary rulings" against "regulatory failures" on the part of racing facilities, trainers, and owners between 2008 and 2013. This indicates that the self-regulating attempts the industry has made have been pretty ineffective. On top of that, there were 27 cases of greyhound cruelty and neglect, including dogs that were starved to death, denied veterinary care, or were found in abysmal conditions. Although the majority of trainers and owners do not treat their dogs this way, the number is high enough to cause alarm.
In one particularly horrifying case in 2017, at least 20 greyhounds were found dead under a trainer's care. The Florida trainer John Williams was arrested, and 32 emaciated, abused greyhounds were removed from his care. Some were found with duct tape around their necks. Williams was later charged with 37 counts of animal cruelty.
Greyhounds Spend Most Of Their Time In A Cage
You'd think that racing greyhounds spend their time in an area where they can run and keep their muscles working. Unfortunately, that's not true. Much of the time, greyhounds are kept in stacked, cramped cages for most of the time. These cages can be so small that the animals cannot stand up all the way, and can become dirty an unsanitary as they are left uncleaned for too long. These cages are used both for transportation, as well as day-to-day living, meaning that the dogs are cooped up for more than 20 hours per day.
It's true, however, that greyhounds are a low-activity dog, despite their high speeds. This means that they do not need constant activity in order to thrive. This fact is often used as an excuse by trainers and owners, who claim that the dogs are fine lying in the cages for most of their day, and that the cages prevent them from chewing on their enclosure or other dogs. But, because greyhound racing is a self-regulated sport, this sort of confinement can also lead to genuine abuse.
The Most Common Injuries For Greyhounds Are Broken Legs
When a dog gets injured on the track, it most often is a leg injury. In Texas, where greyhound racing is still practiced, there were over 1,507 greyhound injuries between 2008 and 2011. The most common injury was broken legs, and 56 percent of the injuries were fatal or required euthanasia. In West Virginia, where greyhound racing is also legal, it was pretty much the same story. There were 4,796 injuries at just two racetracks, between 2008 and 2013. Almost a third of the injuries were career ending, almost 300 greyhound injuries were fatal or required euthanasia, and the majority of the injuries were broken legs. If the dog can't make money through racing, and the doctor bills are too high, the dog is often simply put down. After all, greyhound racing is a business.