The sad truth about the greyhound industry
The greyhound industry is no stranger to controversy. It’s common knowledge that these dogs are bred for racing, and many of them experience horrific conditions and injuries. Even those who don’t get injured are still subject to inhumane treatment, especially the ones that don’t make it to the track—and unfortunately, there are a lot of those dogs. At least 80 percent of greyhounds bred for racing aren’t fast enough to be profitable on the track. These dogs are usually killed or sent overseas (where animal welfare standards are notoriously lax), despite being perfectly healthy and adoptable.
This is why Greyhound Rescue Day is so important: not only does it bring awareness to greyhounds suffering in this industry, but it also shows how far we have come as a society in understanding what they need and committing ourselves to giving them better lives.
Greyhounds that win a lot of races aren’t always good breeders.
Greyhounds are bred for speed, not for breeding. Although they’re typically retired from racing at four years old, greyhounds live an average of eight to 11 more years after their retirement. This offers a great opportunity for dog lovers, who can adopt and enjoy a loving companion for about as long as it would take to raise a puppy.
The life of the racing dog is hard on the body, though, and many retired racers have injuries that prevent them from having puppies. These dogs may also lack the motherly instinct to take care of their own pups or be able to handle the physical demands of raising puppies without injuring themselves further. Because they don’t make good breeders, there are fewer greyhounds being born than ever before—making adoption even more important!
Greyhounds have a lot of energy, but they’re also sleepy dogs.
Greyhounds are the perfect combination of energetic and lazy. They’re often described as athletic, and they genuinely love to run. They’re also very cuddly and will often spend a majority of their time sleeping, sometimes up to 18 hours a day! For all these reasons, they make amazing pets.
Greyhounds are excellent at agility competitions.
These dogs are great at many different types of dog sports. They’re fast and agile and can easily jump over objects a lot bigger than them. But they struggle with tight turns, so they tend to do best in sports where their speed is prioritized over agility. Greyhounds make excellent lure coursers, which involves chasing a fake bunny around a track, leaping mid-air as it changes direction. They also do well in flyball, which is like relay racing for dogs—teams of four race each other across hurdles to retrieve tennis balls from a flyball box. And greyhounds even have their own sport called “dock diving,” which involves dogs launching themselves off docks into the water after toys or objects that are thrown out for them.
Not all rescue clinics will euthanize dogs.
Not all clinics will euthanize a dog. While the practice is still common, there are some that have made the decision not to do it, or will at least try to avoid it. Some shelters may choose this path because they are only open on certain days of the week. For example, in Illinois, you can either be open seven days a week or not at all. In this case, there is no possibility of keeping an animal for more than five days without committing to keeping them indefinitely. However, if your clinic is only open on certain days and cannot keep an animal for several weeks until their owner comes back for them, it may be necessary to euthanize the animal.
The reason these clinics make this choice is so that they can operate under a set schedule and keep as many animals alive as possible while also minimizing their spending each month. You don’t want to leave your clinic operating under full capacity (you’ll lose money) but you don’t want to overspend either (you won’t go out of business). If you can achieve these two things then you’ve got yourself a winning formula!
There’s no one-size-fits-all solution to end dog racing.
A lot of people have asked us how racing dogs can be illegal in some places but not in others. While it might seem like an easy question to answer, the truth is that there is no single way or authority that makes dog racing illegal across a whole country. Currently, we have 35 states with no active dog tracks and 11 with active dog tracks.
So how did they get shut down? Well, there is no one-size-fits-all solution to end dog racing; instead there are many different ways that the government can enforce laws restricting or banning dog racing:
- The government can create new laws against animal cruelty such as the Florida amendment banning greyhound racing passed on November 6th, 2018.
- The government can enforce existing animal welfare laws more strictly by increasing penalties for violations. In California it was only after authorities started investigating and penalizing owners and trainers who were abusing their dogs that some racetracks shut down.
- The government can regulate or ban gambling which includes betting on races held at racetracks. Dog tracks do not operate independently from casinos and other forms of gambling so if these forms of gambling become regulated then it will affect the existence of racetracks.
These are just a few examples but the point remains: if you want to shut down a dog track then you need to work through your local state legislature or other governing body to enact legislation protecting animals from harm and abuse at racetracks.
the progress of these dogs
How are these dogs reacting to the changes?
The changes have been quite beneficial for the greyhounds, who overall seem relieved that they’ve been given a second chance. They appear much happier at their new homes and are now able to run around safely without risk of being injured. These athletic, energetic dogs have also excelled in agility competitions, where they get to test their speed and enjoy themselves with or without an audience.
What other organizations are helping these dogs?
A number of organizations—including Grey2K USA, The Sighthound Underground and the Humane Society of Tampa Bay—are raising money for these greyhounds through sales of related merchandise.