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Matt’s Blog: The Abomination of Greyhound Racing

Wednesday, March 5, 2014 - 5:00pm
The Abomination of Greyhound Racing

By ASPCA President and CEO Matt Bershadker

Stopping animal cruelty is difficult enough when it’s done in secret, but when it happens legally and out in the open, ending it can be just as challenging. A tragic case in point: Greyhound racing, a cruel and senseless “sport” that not only kills or injures thousands of dogs every year across the country, but loses money for the places that operate them. State governments are often losers too, having to spend more to regulate the sport than they get back in revenue. Florida alone lost between $1 million and $3.3 million on Greyhound racing in 2012.

So why is this abomination still in business? Because for some, Greyhound racing is still big business.

Greyhounds begin their lives on breeding farms, where only a select few actually become racing dogs. Unwanted pups, those who assessed as unfit for racing, are killed or sometimes sent to laboratories, which use them in experiments. Those chosen for the sport spend most of their lives stacked in double-decker cages in warehouse-style kennels for 20 or more hours a day. Most of the areas Greyhounds are kept are not heated or air-conditioned, causing many to suffer during severe weather temperatures. Many also suffer from fleas, ticks and internal parasites.

While this is enough for most states to turn their back on the ugly practice, Greyhound racing still exists in seven states. More than half of all active American tracks, 12 of 21, are in Florida, where a ridiculous law requires gambling institutions to maintain and run dog racing facilities. You read that right: If you want to run a gaming institution in Florida, you must, by law, race dogs as well. More about that oddity in a moment, but first know that when these dogs are sent out to race, many are actually sent to their deaths.

Making use of a recent Florida law requiring that dog track deaths be reported, the Greyhound protection group GREY2K USA, with ASPCA help, put out a report last month revealing that 74 racing Greyhounds died at 10 different racetracks in Florida over the last seven months of last year. Put another way, from June to December, a Greyhound died from a racing-related injury every three days.

And only two months into 2014, there have already been an astounding 18 deaths at Florida Greyhound tracks. If this shocking rate of deaths continues, Florida tracks will have more than 100 Greyhound deaths by the end of the year.

Causes of Greyhound deaths included including fatal injuries suffered during or after races, and heat stroke. Fifty-one of the dead Greyhounds were under three years old; the two youngest dogs were both 17 months old. These majestic, perfectly healthy, gentle and loving animals were essentially run to death. 

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Comments

Comments

Lesley

Your Mother should be ashamed of giving birth to such an uncaring human who believes it is nonsense to report information about the needless suffering of animals

Vicky

Sad that it's all about money. Just pathetic. Poor babies. <3

Jola

This is a disgusting and inhumane practice driven by greed, period. I wonder if a petition on Change.org for each state would work. Why are underperforming dogs killed and not be offered up for adoption-- the same way the retired dogs are?

Mdituro

First of all, the article is a crock! Too bad nobody bothered to REALLY investigate how racing greyhounds are raised, fed, and housed but instead just towed the party line of two very well known, well paid lobbyists who have a (supposed) welfare group. Second, Jola, do you even know how much it costs to breed, whelp, raise, train and feed a racing greyhound to the point where it can -begin- racing? I doubt you do or you would know that "greed" doesn't even enter the picture! Third, injured young greyhounds, pups who don't school well, and those that grade off after they start their racing careers (what you call "underperforming dogs") ARE offered up for adoption. Where the devil do you think all the adoptables come from?! Also, how many greyhound puppies do you recall seeing in adoption groups that come from racing greyhound farms? Probably not many. Do you know why? Because there is generally a WAITING LIST of adoption groups with people who want them, so they never even get put on the adoption pages! Fourth, and finally, as for your petition on Change.org, good luck. Internet petitions are a JOKE because most people won't give you their REAL NAMES AND ADDRESSES, so there's no way to verify the validity of an internet petition: it is basically meaningless. Unless you can produce tangible documents to verify singular individuals, no meaningful entity will take it seriously enough to act upon it - and, I THANK GOD FOR THAT!

Race my hounds

One of the most intellectually dishonest hitpieces I've ever read. To read this, one would infer the following:

That there is no such thing as natural, premature mortality among greyhounds

That the racetracks which are also casinos, began as casinos, and not the other way around

That those casino privileges were not an end-run around the normal bidding and licensing procedures, and did not bestow preferential treatment upon pari-mutuel racetracks to receive those privileges, because they were already licensed for pari-mutuel wagering

That those pari mutuel racetracks who sought casino privileges, were forced to couple some of the casino rake with the greyhound purses, rather than having willingly agreed to do so.

That once these racetracks began casino operation, they did not fail to promote greyhound racing.

That these racetrack/casinos are not responsible for maintaining safe racing surfaces and lure equipment

That there is not a glaring and odious conflict of interest between the negative publicity that injuries to greyhounds generate, and the casino-racetrack's desire to rid themselves of greyhound racing, despite having only been granted their casino privileges specifically because they were already operational, licensed, gaming facilities.

That there was no such thing as the Smith Amendment, proposed legislation that would have forced the racetrack-casinos to fail safe their electronic lures against shock and concussion hazards, and which would have mandated that those casino-racetracks work in concert with the U of Florida School of Veterinary Medicine to improve and better maintain their racing surfaces---which is where most injuries to greyhounds occur.

Note: Neither the ASPCA, Grey2k nor any other animal rights organizations supported the Smith Amendment, which was meaningful legislation that would have prevented many of the injuries this piece of shameless propaganda is bemoaning. Grey2k's political proxy, Senator Maria Sachs, actually spoke against it in session.

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