Since the times of the ancient Pharaohs, humans have
continuously exploited the greyhound. Unfortunately, perhaps no day has
been so dark and discouraging for this graceful, peaceful creature as
today. Not only are most greyhounds viciously exploited for their entire
being, but the majority of these racing dogs' lives end all to early in
either agonizing despair or sheer neglect and abandonment.
From the moment these racing dogs breath their first
breath of life, the majority are subject to inhumane conditions. Most
greyhound puppies are bred on large dog farms or by unlicensed breeders.
In other words, many greyhounds are born into puppy mills where lack of
food and water, inadequate living space, and disease are only a few of
the problems these little lives are plagued by.
Those puppies that fail to demonstrate immediate signs
of winner material are often destroyed. In fact, many greyhounds are
killed before their paws even touch a commercial racing track. (Only
about 30 percent of greyhounds born in the racing industry will ever
have the opportunity to run on a track.) The "lucky" ones deemed fit for
the racing world are soon taken from their mothers and shipped off to
training ranches, located throughout the entire country, but highly
concentrated in Florida, Texas, Oklahoma, and Kansas. Often traveling
for days on end, many of the puppies arrive at their final destination
either severely ill or dead.
Once the greyhounds have proven their racing ability,
they are quickly shipped from the training farm to a track kennel. The
average track houses up to 20 kennels. Each kennel holds anywhere
between 50 and 80 dogs, for a total of over 1,000 greyhounds housed at
most tracks. The kennels are usually comprised of stacked, wooden cages,
3-by-3-feet, in which the greyhounds are forced to reside for anywhere
between 18 to 22 hours a day. While caged, the greyhounds are usually
muzzled in order to deter fighting amongst the dogs. The two to six
hours in which the greyhounds are released usually occur at four
different intervals and are spent in small turnout pens.
Not only are the greyhounds' living conditions
inadequate, but physical problems are common occurrences at these
kennels as well. Fleas and ticks run rampant. In addition, greyhounds
are often forced to suffer untreated conditions and injuries that range
from missing and/or broken toes and broken hocks to internal parasite
infestations. Diseases which vaccinations easily prevent, such as Parvo,
Distemper, and Kennel Cough, are highly reported among racing
addition, the teeth and gums of the dogs continuously show signs of
neglect affiliated diseases attributable to anything from diet, to
stress related trauma, to damage caused by gnawing on cage materials out
of boredom and stress.
Many of the diseases inflicted upon greyhounds are
caused by their diet, which consists mainly of "4-D Meat." This
particular grade of meat is composed of diseased, dying, downed, and/or
dead animals and is deemed by the USDA to be "unfit for human
consumption." Used to save costs, the feeding of 4-D meat to greyhounds
actually violates many laws. For instance, state animal welfare laws
order that animals in commercial businesses be fed a "wholesome" diet.
State laws, which require that cooking, burning, and/or burying be used
to dispose of the bodies of dead animals, are violated when 4-D meat is
produced. Further laws prohibit even the interstate dealings of such
diseased food. Unfortunately, the "caretakers" of the greyhounds do not
hold the dogs' health in highest regard. Those dogs who are successful
runners are usually discarded after racing anywhere from several weeks
to a mere 18 months. Most states mandate that a dog cannot race beyond
five years of age. However, few even make it that far in their careers.
When greyhounds no longer win races they are incapable
of earning their "owners" money and are therefore, immediately
"retired." An estimated 20,000 to 25,000 greyhounds are killed each
year. Documented "disposal" methods include individual and mass
euthanasia, abandonment (often with muzzles intact,) gunshot, sale to
third world countries for additional racing, starvation, electrocution,
Since 1990, there have been over 50 media-documented
cases of abuse towards greyhounds. Collectively, these cases represent
literally thousands of dogs tortured and neglected. Some of the more
horrendous headlines read:
§ June 7, 1998: From 1995 to 1998, more than 2,600
greyhounds were donated for medical research to Colorado State
§ November 24, 1996: Roughly 600-800 greyhounds from the
Pensacola Greyhound Track in Pensacola, Florida are killed each year by
a regional animal shelter.
§ December 31, 1993: Over 400 greyhounds were found
discarded and famished in their crates at a racetrack that recently went
out of business. Officials found 61 already deceased and were forced to
euthanize 15 others.
§ 1992: The bodies of 52 greyhounds, shot to death, were
discovered scattered amongst a row of trees in Arizona. Officials later
unearthed the bodies of 72 more greyhounds in the same field.
§ February 28, 1992: 141 greyhounds were found poisoned
with a flea and tick pesticide, which had been administered into their
§ February 1991: 98 greyhounds were found in the Key
West track kennel, grossly malnourished, laying in their own feces and
§ 1991: In a Florida kennel, 200 starving greyhounds
were discovered and rescued.
§ July 12, 1990: 101 sick, skeletal greyhounds were
rescued from a Tucson kennel. 36 had to be euthanized.
§ 1990: In a court deposition, veterinarian Dr. William
Deans testified that, in 25 years, he had personally euthanized
approximately 10,000 greyhounds.
These cases represent only a small fraction of the
atrocities committed against greyhounds each year. Imagine the number of
cases that go unreported! In addition, these reports do not represent
the additional cases brought about due to inadequate conditions at
breeding farms; puppies living in filth with inadequate food and water,
lack of exercise and companionship, plagued with disease.
Those greyhounds who are not killed immediately are
either adopted out or sent to research labs. Since only about five
percent of retired greyhounds are placed into adoptive homes,
approximately 95 percent of living, retired greyhounds are forced to
endure excruciating pain for the remainder of their lives at the hands
of medical students, doctors, and other professionals who earn their
living by torturing animals in the name of science.
The truth of the matter is, from 1990 to 1997 an
estimated 343,701 racing greyhounds were bred. In this same time period,
only an estimated 60,000 were adopted. Approximately 15,000 were
retained for breeding purposes, leaving more than 175,000 greyhounds
unaccounted for and presumed either dead or residing in a research
The fact that the greyhound racing industry is
self-regulated does not help matters very much. In fact, this is most
likely a major contributing factor to the depressing situations
surrounding the racing greyhounds. Any time an industry is left to
govern itself, problems will inevitably arise. Just take a look at the
sad conditions that surround the zoo industry.
The problems surrounding the greyhounds are further
multiplied by the fact that the racing industry reaps significant
amounts of tax revenue for state governments, which encourages their
continued lack of attachment to the greyhound regulatory field. Those
rules and regulations that have been established by the states fail to
cover humane conditions for the animals. While most state governments do
require occasional inspections and a state veterinarian during races,
the revenues generated by the greyhounds reign supreme in the states'
concerns. As a result, state governments find it in their best interests
to suppress information about the numbers of greyhounds killed and the
deficient conditions of tracks and kennels which plague this industry.
In addition to government assistance in concealing the
truth behind this horrid industry, greyhound enterprises issue a great
deal of propaganda. The highly praised American Greyhound Council (AGC)
adoption assistance program was created by the greyhound racing industry
in order to convince the public that most retired greyhounds are adopted
into homes. However, adoption groups must meet the industry's
"criteria," which include a supportive attitude from the adoption agency
towards the greyhound racing industry. The group must provide "accurate,
non-inflammatory information to potential adoption families and the
media." Actions like these actually hinder the adoption of greyhounds,
for now those individuals with the best intentions must be skeptical of
who they are adopting from. Not wanting to take a chance of supporting
the industry, some individuals may avoid the process altogether.
The only way in which the greyhounds can be saved from
this continued abuse is to put an end to greyhound racing once and for
all. 1995 marks a major advancement for the greyhounds. It was in this
year that Vermont officially banned greyhound racing, making it the
first bill of its kind to pass in a state where racing licensing
currently existed. California, Maine, and Virginia represent the other
states in which dog racing has been banned. If your state is not listed
above, please begin to contact your elected officials and push for a
bill that will ban any and all dog racing in your state, even if you
currently have no racing tracks.
To discourage people from patronizing existing tracks
you can leaflet at the sites. Another suggestion is to write
letters-to-the-editor of your local news papers, protesting greyhound
racing. For more ideas on how to help the greyhounds, you can request a
greyhound pack from PETA at [email protected]
If you are interested in adopting a rescued greyhound or
know of anyone who is, the National Greyhound Adoption Network is a very
They can be reached at 1-800-4-HOUNDS.
For more information, visit http://www.greyhounds.org/
Go on to "Mad
Return to 28 November 1999 Issue
Return to Newsletters
** Fair Use Notice**
This document may contain copyrighted material, use of which has not been
specifically authorized by the copyright owners. I believe that this
not-for-profit, educational use on the Web constitutes a fair use of the
copyrighted material (as provided for in section 107 of the US Copyright
Law). If you wish to use this copyrighted material for purposes of your
own that go beyond fair use, you must obtain permission from the copyright