The Cruel Reality of the Greyhound Industry

 

 

RONNIE WILLIAMS DOG EBRO GREYHOUND PARK FL 2010

Greyhound Racing in the United States

Since 2008, more than 80,000 young greyhounds have been registered to race. On average, a population of up to 1,000 dogs is required to operate a commercial racetrack. Greyhounds typically begin racing at eighteen months of age, and race until they are four. At the tracks, dogs are caged for twenty or more hours a day in warehouse-style kennel compounds.

It's a Dog's Life

Racing greyhounds are kept in cages, crates, or pens for approximately 22 hours each day. Most containers are as small as 3 x 3 feet and are not climate-controlled; the dogs suffer extreme weather conditions. They are let out of their cages only to relieve themselves, train, and race. Some greyhounds are kept muzzled constantly.

Racing greyhounds are typically fed raw, rancid meat, and denied basic veterinary care. They are often forced to race when they are injured or ill. Because the industry is not governed by the Animal Welfare Act, the Act's standards for the treatment and care of animals do not apply. Although greyhounds naturally live to be about 13 years old, the average lifespan of a racing greyhound is 3-4 years.

Racing greyhounds have repeatedly tested positive for serious drugs, including cocaine. Since 2008, at least sixteen race dogs have tested positive for cocaine in Florida and Alabama.

In 2010, Florida investigators discovered thirty-seven dead greyhounds during an inspection of the Ebro Greyhound Park kennel compound. The dogs had been starved to death and some had packing tape wound around their necks. Greyhound trainer Ronald Williams was arrested and faced a total of forty-two counts of felony animal cruelty. He was later sentenced to five years in prison for each count, to be served concurrently. 

Greyhounds Suffer Serious Injuries

Since 2008, 11,722 greyhound injuries have been documented nationwide, including over 3,000 broken legs. Other reported injuries include fractured skulls, broken necks, and electrocutions. Alabama and Florida do not report greyhound injuries to the public, yet Florida is home to twelve of the remaining twenty-one tracks. Therefore, the total number of greyhound injuries is likely much higher. In addition, nearly 1,000 greyhound deaths have been documented since 2008. In Florida alone, state records show that a racing greyhound dies every three days.

Greyhounds are Abused

Since 2008, at least twenty-seven cases of greyhound cruelty and neglect have been documented, including cases of dogs denied veterinary care, dogs starved to death, and dogs living in poor kennel conditions. Other issues include female greyhounds shot up with anabolic steroids to block their natural reproductive cycles and greyhounds raw fed “4-D” meat from downed animals as a means of reducing costs.

Bait Animals

Rabbits and other small animals are used as live bait to teach dogs to chase lures around the track. The rabbits are hung from horizontal poles and the dogs are encouraged to chase and kill them. Less aggressive dogs are sometimes placed in a cage with a small animal and not released or fed until they have killed it. In some states, training with live animals is illegal. However, industry insiders circumvent this legislation by sending the dogs to another state for training, as federal law allows greyhound racers to be shipped from state to state.

In September 2011 a Texas greyhound trainer named Timothy Norbert Titsworth surrendered his state license after he was caught on video tape using live rabbits to bait young greyhounds at his farm. Titsworth was charged with criminal cruelty to non-livestock animals; however, his case was dismissed in April of 2012.

Life After RacingDOOLEY PALM BEACH FL 2009

Once they finish racing, some greyhounds are put up for adoption, others are sent to breeding farms, and the fate of the remaining dogs remains unknown. The National Greyhound Association, which registers all greyhounds for racing, does not keep track of the dogs after they stop winning. Longtime Executive Director Gary Guccione admitted that there are “no cumulative annual records” of the ultimate fate of racing dogs.

When greyhounds become too sick or injured to race well, they may be: 

Ways in Which Retired Greyhounds are Killed

7 REMAINING STATES WHERE DOG RACING IS STILL LEGAL

Greyhound Racing Is a Dying Industry

Between 2001 and 2012, the total amount gambled on greyhound racing nationwide declined by 66%. Track attendances continue to decline, and dog racing is being propped up by subsidies and mandates in several states. Florida is actually losing money on greyhound racing due to regulatory costs exceeding revenues. Specifically, tracks lost over $42 million on racing between June 2012 and November 2013.

International Greyhound Racing

Commercial greyhound racing also takes place in seven other countries: Australia, Ireland, Macau (SAR of China), Mexico, New Zealand, the United Kingdom and Vietnam

HOW YOU CAN HELP

Source: High Stakes: Greyhound Racing in the United States (Arlington, MA: GREY2K USA Worldwide, 2015)