Charleston, W. Va.–GREY2K USA, with funding from the ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®), today released a report detailing the inhumane conditions and weak financial viability of greyhound racing in West Virginia. The report is an up-to-date compilation of data from official sources, such as state records, news reports, and public statements made by members of the West Virginia dog racing industry.
“Greyhounds at West Virginia dog tracks endure lives of confinement, and many suffer terrible injuries,” said GREY2K USA President and General Counsel Christine A. Dorchak. “For the first time, this 46-page report offers the public detailed information on how greyhounds live in this state, documenting the inhumane conditions for animals at these facilities.”
According to state records, 4,796 greyhound injuries were reported at West Virginia’s two operational racetracks from January 2008 through June 2013. Thirty percent of these were career-ending injuries, and a total of 289 greyhound injuries were fatal or required euthanasia. The most commonly reported injuries were broken legs, with other serious injuries reported including muscle tears and broken backs.
“Greyhounds are very gentle animals, which makes it easy for the racing industry to take advantage of them, but like all animals, they deserve to be treated humanely,” said Ann Church, vice president of state affairs for the ASPCA. “This report clearly indicates that it is time to stop racing these dogs, as there is no demand for the industry, and the cruel and dangerous conditions in which they are confined and forced to compete are detrimental to their health and welfare.”
“The Federation of Humane Organizations of West Virginia applauds this in-depth report revealing the inhumane treatment of greyhounds at local tracks,” said Theresa Bruner, treasurer for The Federation of Humane Organizations of West Virginia. “We encourage all humane groups to join the campaign to help protect greyhounds in the state.”
The report further details inhumane conditions at West Virginia racetracks, including the following:
- Greyhounds are kept in stacked cages measuring only 44 inches deep, 32 inches wide, and 34 inches high, meaning large greyhounds cannot stand fully erect in their cages;
- Greyhounds are confined perpetually in their cages, and the state has no rules governing the number of daily turn-outs at dog track kennels;
- Numerous cases of abuse and neglect have been reported, with trainers and kennel staff cited for hitting, “violently swinging,” and punching greyhounds; and
- Greyhounds are fed meat from diseased animals to reduce costs.
GREY2K USA also notes that greyhound racing is a dying industry and gambling on greyhound racing has declined by 37 percent at West Virginia racetracks since 2008. Several track executives have publicly acknowledged that dog racing is no longer viable, and in 2012, the Wheeling Island track requested to reduce the number of live races it is required to conduct. Every year, millions of dollars in subsidies are used to prop up the deteriorating West Virginia greyhound racing industry, money that could be better used to fund state and community programs.