Newsletter - Animal Writes sm
28 November 1999 Issue


By [email protected]

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 greyhounds. In 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, and bludgeoning.

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 University.

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 food.

February 1991: 98 greyhounds were found in the Key West track kennel, grossly malnourished, laying in their own feces and vomit.

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 facility.

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 reliable source.
They can be reached at 1-800-4-HOUNDS.

For more information, visit

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