The greyhound is one of the seminal canine breeds from which virtually all domestic dogs descend. Despite a decline in race attendance, greyhound racing remains big business, bringing in millions of dollars worldwide in ticket sales and betting revenues. Public opinion of the sport is faltering however, due to recent exposés of some of the cruel practices employed by the industry.
Most greyhounds intended to race are bred on breeding farms. There are 1,500 breeding farms in the U.S alone, these are extensive commercial operations and only a few pups actually make it to race. Unwanted pups, those assessed as unfit for racing or who will not chase a mechanical lure are killed or sent to be experimented on. In one example, over the span of 15 years a single man had taken 10,000 unwanted pups who had been judged by their trainers to be too slow to race, shot them, and buried them in a mass grave behind his home. It is not only dogs who are killed, in Australia, it was found that 20 per cent of trainers had used live rabbits to speed up their dogs. The industry produces such a high volume of pups in order to be able to select the fastest from among them, meaning that surplus dogs killed are not collateral damage, but purposely worked into the business model.
Those dogs who do qualify to race can look forward to a similarly cruel fate. On the track, hundreds of greyhounds sustain injuries like bone fractures and ligament tears, and many collapse from heat or exhaustion. Even the off track greyhounds do not lead happy lives; racing dogs are typically kept caged and muzzled at all times between races and training. Those who do sustain injuries or who perform poorly are often be killed. A recent report revealed that some unwanted greyhounds were sold to a university which slaughtered them and used them to teach anatomy to veterinary students. When greyhounds retire, many meet uncertain fates. The League Against Cruel Sports estimates that around 1,000 of the approximately 8,000 greyhounds retiring from racing annually are not rehomed and are unaccounted for.
Greyhounds are intelligent, highly social animals who in the right hands can be affectionate and loving companions. The industry treats these sensitive animals as mere commodities, racing them to exhaustion and discarding those who do not make the grade. Despite declining public opinion, it is the money of betters and visitors which allows this cruel and exploitative industry to continue. The best thing we can do for these dogs is to put pressure on those states and countries who still allow racing, refuse to support it with our money and advise our families and friends to do the same. Those of us in a position to offer a loving home to these mistreated animals would gain a loyal, loving companion. There are several re-homing charities present in most countries who would be more than happy to guide you through the process of adopting a retired greyhound.