The bumper sticker on my car reads, “Win or Die, Held End the Cruelty and Killing of Greyhound Racing.” The words may sound harsh, but the words hold truth. Many ex-racing greyhounds are inhumanely mistreated, abused, discarded, or even killed simply because they cannot win for their greedy greyhound owners. My ultimate goal is to rescue as many as I possibly can; more information can be obtained from GREY2KUSA.org.
Dog racing is simply a life all about cages and muzzles. While racing at a particular track, dogs are kept in kennels at the track or nearby. And in these kennels, they are confined in crates stacked in tiers, each one just large enough for a dog to stand or lie down. Their bedding usually consists of shredded newspapers or carpet scraps. Rescued dogs often have open sores as a result of constant rubbing against the wire mesh of the crates. The dogs are taken out a few times throughout the day, either for training or to relieve themselves. Otherwise, they are locked in the crates for twenty hours a day or more. They must wear rigid plastic or metal muzzles whenever they are let out. They race only once every four days.
Racing greyhounds are fed raw “4-D” meat, which is deemed unfit for human consumption and taken from animals that are diseased, injured, or dying between transit and slaughter. Because of the large number of dogs confined in such small areas and the constant turnover, parasite infestation is inevitable. Therefore, greyhounds are often heavily infested with fleas, ticks, and internal parasites. Injuries on the track are also common and veterinary care is often cursory—many times limited to the barest first aid since many of these dogs will not race again. The legs of many greyhounds also testify to the hasty and careless setting of fractures at the track. It is not unheard of for adoption kennels to receive dogs whose fractures have been left untreated for weeks. However, these greyhounds are the “lucky” ones since they were not killed immediately.
The racing industry operates on the assumption that most of the dogs it produces will be killed. Industry representatives like to use the term “euthanized.” But euthanasia properly means the mercy killing of an individual/animal already dying and suffering unbearable pain. With the exception when applied to injured dogs, euthanasia in the racing world means something quite different—the deliberate killing of healthy greyhounds, many of them as young as two years old or younger, simply in order to maximize profits. Hard to believe, isn’t it? The exact number of dogs put down is unknown since many states are not required to keep disposition records. Some numbers are available: about 25,000 greyhounds simply disappear a year. They are not racing; they are not adopted; they are nowhere to be found. There have been discoveries of whole kennels full of dogs left to starve to death, as well as corpses of greyhounds taken out into the desert and shot, their tattooed ears removed to prevent identification. Hundreds of greyhounds are sold to laboratories every year for medical experiments, since their gentle disposition makes them tractable under stress.
Now for the good news. There are more than 150 privately-funded adoption organizations across the country. These are run by volunteers and funded by donations. They rescue and place approximately 15,000 greyhounds a year. Not only do they save greyhounds’ lives, but they create thousands of anti-racing activists, for people who adopt one or two greyhounds turn into people who want to save them all. Just like me. Greyhounds are their own best advocates. Just walking the streets of their own towns, they turn heads and raise the pity and indignation of passers-by. How can the public help? Don’t patronize greyhound racetracks. Write legislators and voice your concerns. And finally, adopt one of these beautiful, gentle, loving dogs and make them part of your families. It will be the best decision you have ever made.