Greyhound racing may seem like a harmless sport, but life in the fast lane is no picnic for these overworked dogs. Every year, thousands of young and healthy Greyhounds are killed merely because they lack racing potential, are injured while racing or are no longer competitive. Life is hard for those who make the grade—they spend long hours in cramped kennels and are deprived of normal social contact and life experiences. While people are becoming more aware of the horror of this sport, there are still more than 20 tracks operating in the U.S.
What are Greyhound breeding farms?
Greyhounds begin life on a Greyhound breeding farm, where thousands of pups are born into the industry each year—of these, only a select few actually become racing dogs. This massive over-breeding is done in order to produce winning dogs. The unwanted pups, those who don’t measure up to racing standards, are simply destroyed. The racing industry also sells some of the dogs considered unfit for racing to laboratories, which use them in experiments.
How are Greyhounds housed at the tracks?
Housed at commercial racetracks, the dogs spend the majority of their lives in confinement—stacked in double-decker cages in warehouse-style kennels for up to twenty or more hours per day. The cages are just large enough for the dogs to stand in. Most of the enclosures are not heated or air-conditioned, causing the short-coated dogs to suffer during severe weather temperatures. Many dogs suffer from fleas, ticks and internal parasites.
Is racing itself dangerous for Greyhounds?
As a breed, Greyhounds love to run, but they fall victim to track conditions. Each year, thousands of these dogs are seriously injured during races. Injuries include severed toes, broken legs, spinal cord paralysis, broken necks and cardiac arrest. And because so many dogs are kept in close quarters, contagious respiratory diseases can sweep through kennels, affecting both racing schedules and adoption efforts when a kennel is quarantined.
What happens to Greyhounds when they can no longer race?
While Greyhounds may live 13 or more years, they are usually 18 months to 5 years old when they are retired from racing. Many are deemed unfit to race after an injury, some have little desire to race, while others are no longer fast enough to be profitable. While some of these dogs are retired and sent to rescue groups, others are simply killed or returned to breeding facilities to serve as breeding stock.
Is Greyhound racing legal in all states?
No. Greyhound racing attendance is dwindling nationwide as more people fight to have the tracks closed and choose gambling venues that don’t involve animals. As a result, states are becoming more amenable to banning dog racing, because it is a money pit: state governments often wind up having to spend more to regulate the sport than they get back in revenue. As of 2014 Greyhound racing is illegal in 39 states and tracks are operating in only seven states. Please visit the website of our friends Grey2K USA to see a map showing the legal status of dog racing in all 48 continental U.S. states.
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.
- Take a more active role in helping to end Greyhound racing by working with the ASPCA to pass legislation that prohibits it. Stay up-to-date about current legislation to ban Greyhound racing by joining the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade.