Imagine this: It’s swelteringly hot outside, but someone is forcing you to run as fast as you possibly can around a racetrack. You feel like your lungs are going to explode, but you know you’ll get in trouble if you slow down, so you keep pushing. When the race finally comes to an end, your real misery is only just beginning, because life off the track is even worse than the race itself.
If you can actually imagine yourself in that scenario, you’re probably grateful that it isn’t real. The only problem is that it is real for greyhounds used in the racing industry. Greyhound racing is horrifically cruel. Here’s why:
Dogs Are Forced to Start Racing at a Young Age
In the greyhound-racing industry, dogs are forced to start training when they’re only about 1 year old. Because of the reasons that I’m about to get into, many don’t live long enough to “retire.”
Lots of Dogs Suffer in the Greyhound-Racing Industry
Thousands of dogs are bred, exploited, and discarded every year.
Dogs Are Constantly Being Injured
Since 2008, more than 13,000 injuries have been documented in the U.S. alone. These include broken necks, dislocations, torn muscles, and broken legs.
Oh, and get this: Florida—which has more than half of the nation’s tracks—doesn’t even require that greyhound-racing injuries be made public. This means that there are probably way more injuries that we’re not even aware of. Greyhound breeders are even suing the one county in Florida that did introduce reporting requirements, because they’re hoping to prevent similar rules from being instated elsewhere.
Many Dogs Die for the Racing Industry Every Year
Nearly 1,000 greyhound deaths have been reported since 2008. In Florida alone, on average, one greyhound used by the racing industry dies every three days.
Greyhounds Often Die Painfully During Races
Some examples of recent dog deaths include those of HK Cream, who hit the rail and died on impact in Arkansas; SE’s Angel Fire, who was euthanized after breaking her back during a race in West Virginia; and SH Transporter, who was euthanized after breaking his leg during a race in Iowa.
Dogs Are Forced to Race in Extreme Conditions
Greyhounds are unique in that they have very little body fat and super-thin coats, so they’re extraordinarily sensitive to hot and cold temperatures. But people in the greyhound-racing industry don’t care about that and force dogs to run in extreme heat and cold.
I don’t mean a mildly uncomfortable chill or a warm day—I’m talking subzero temperatures and heat of more than 100 degrees. In fact, three dogs were once found dead from heat exhaustion at the Daytona Beach Kennel Club in Florida.
People Have Drugged Greyhounds in Order to Make Them Run Faster
Similar to what occurs in the horse-racing industry, humans often drug dogs in the racing industry in order to improve their performance. People have been known to give female greyhounds steroids in order to prevent them from going into heat—and avoid losing race days. Even cocaine has been found at greyhound tracks.
Dogs Often Die During Transport
It’s common practice for dozens of greyhounds to be crammed into one truck to be transported from one track to another. Because of these crowded conditions, temperatures can reach over 100 degrees in the summer, which is deadly for dogs, since they can’t sweat.
Life off the Track Is Miserable
When dogs aren’t racing, many spend up to 20 hours a day in cages and are kept constantly muzzled. Can you imagine living like this?
People Have Been Known to Abuse Greyhounds Used for Racing
There have been many cases in which dogs were denied veterinary care, starved to death, or kept in miserable conditions. In 2010, 32 greyhounds were found dead at the Ebro Greyhound Park kennel in Florida. They had starved to death or died from dehydration.
What Happens to Most ‘Retired’ Dogs Is Really Ugly
Some “retired” greyhounds are put up for adoption, but others are sent to breeding farms to be used over and over again to produce future racers. And because greyhounds have a universal blood type, many are sold to blood banks, where they live in kennels and workers draw their blood over and over again for transfusions.
In 2017, PETA obtained photographs and video footage of approximately 150 greyhounds—most if not all of whom were bred for racing—suffering at a Texas kennel doing business as The Pet Blood Bank, Inc. Dogs there were found with open wounds, rotting teeth, and severely overgrown toenails. Some cowered at the sight of humans. Thankfully, with the help of our supporters, we got this nightmare factory shut down—and now, the National Greyhound Association bars its members from sending greyhounds to any blood bank operation that hasn’t been verified by the organization.
The executive director of the National Greyhound Association admits that there are “no cumulative annual records” showing what happens to most dogs when they’re done racing. So we can only imagine what happens to many of the other dogs after their racing “careers.”
Dogs Aren’t the Only Animals Who Suffer
Some trainers have been known to hang live animals, including rabbits, from poles in order to teach greyhounds to chase the lures used during actual races.
As more and more people learn about the cruelty behind greyhound racing, the “sport” is becoming much less popular. Between 2001 and 2014, the total amount gambled on greyhound racing nationwide declined by a whopping 70 percent.
There are now only 18 dog tracks remaining in six states. Dog racing is now illegal in 40 states but continues in some large states, such as Texas and Florida.
What You Can Do
Compassionate people all over the world are taking a stand against greyhound racing, and you can, too. Inform your loved ones by explaining to them what you learned in this article, and never attend a greyhound race (or any event that uses live animals).