The life of a racing Greyhound is often short and painful. Every year, thousands of young and healthy Greyhounds are euthanized because they are no longer deemed worthy racers, but some of the lucky ones make it to Greyhound rescues. ASPCA staffer Lauren discusses adopting her Greyhound, Lewis, a racing survivor.
When my then-fiancé, Grant, and I began looking for a dog, we assumed that we would need to narrow our search to smaller breeds because of our NYC lifestyle. On a whim, I searched for large-breed dogs that are suitable for apartment living. Much to our surprise, Greyhounds were the most recommended! We fell in love with the breed.
A volunteer from an NYC Greyhound rescue visited our apartment with a spotted, male Greyhound who had recently retired from the industry. While this gentle giant had some difficulty climbing the stairs to our apartment, once inside he had no problem exploring every inch—all 400 square feet!
When Linda left that day, Grant and I looked at each other and without words knew we had found our dog. We called Linda the next day and arranged to pick him up. Being an avid Formula 1 fan, Grant decided to name our new dog Lewis after Lewis Hamilton, the race car driver. Considering his retired profession, I found it quite fitting.
Learning about Lewis
As we fell more in love with Lew, I started researching his past. Like all racing Greyhounds, Lewis has ear tattoos: his birthday and litter number on one side, his ID number on the other. I typed his ID number into a registry and learned he’d participated in 40 races and won eight. He raced until he was nearly three, which is a long career. I also learned he’d raced at Ebro Greyhound Park. He was pulled from Ebro in September 2010; in October 2010, an owner at the same track was arrested after 30 dogs died from starvation.
At the track, Lewis lived in a stacked cage, only coming out four times a day: twice to go to the bathroom and twice to train. When we met Lewis, he was fearful, really underweight and had flea dermatitis—but that’s really good shape compared to how many Greyhounds come out of the industry. It took three weeks for his personality to come out. But when it did, it was hysterical—Greyhounds are hysterical—he was lying upside down, sneaking on the couch and sneaking onto our bed. It made me think this was likely the first time his personality was allowed to shine.
Lewis made himself at home in our NYC apartment right away, but shortly before getting married, Grant and I moved to the house in the suburbs. Lew loves the new space, and he’s got a dog bed on each floor. He loves car rides—any time we go on any errands he comes along and adores it. Lew lives for the tennis ball and will jump eight feet in the air for it. He spends weekends playing in our backyard and at the neighborhood park.
Lewis loves children, and that’s why we’re really excited for him to meet his new little (human) brother or sister in the next month! We think he’ll be a great big brother. He just turned six on Earth Day. It’s cheesy, but I always say his birthday makes sense, since he’s my whole world.
We already knew that Greyhounds at racetracks suffer immensely. But today, Greyhound advocate group GREY2K USA released a report that shows just how bad things are for dogs forced to race in Texas.
The report, produced with funding from the ASPCA, showed that at Texas racetracks:
• Greyhounds are forced to live in confined, stacked cages, with large Greyhounds being unable to stand fully erect in their cages. • In 2012, six Greyhounds died at Gulf Greyhound Park from a form of canine influenza, often a recurring epidemic in cramped living situations. • In 2011, a Texas Greyhound trainer failed to obtain veterinary care for an injured Greyhound until two days after the injury occurred. • Greyhounds are fed 4-D meat from diseased animals to reduce costs.
The report also showed that1,507 greyhound injuries were reported at Texas racetracks from January 2008 through December 2011. Fifty-six of these injuries were fatal or required euthanasia, with the most commonly reported injury being broken legs. Other serious injuries reported included torn muscles, puncture wounds, a fractured skull and paralysis.
Frankly, we don’t see why the Texas dog racing industry doesn’t just throw in the towel—Lone Star State residents are way over dog racing. The report shows that gambling on dog racing and dog race attendance are way, way down.
Shame on Skechers: The mega-shoe company recently filmed its new Super Bowl ad at an Arizona Greyhound track. The soon-to-be-released ad features a small French Bulldog wearing Skechers sneakers and competing against Greyhounds at Tucson Greyhound Park. The small dog wins.
Unfortunately, we know the same cannot be said for racing Greyhounds. Just last month, GREY2K USA, with funding from the ASPCA, released a report detailing the horrific conditions of race dogs in Florida. Dogs are confined in small cages for 20 hours or more a day, often wearing muzzles; they are bred excessively in the quest for good runners, with the “excess” puppies killed or otherwise discarded; and they regularly endure serious and fatal injuries. You can access a copy of the report here [PDF].
Take Action! Animal lovers across the nation are demanding Skechers pull the ad or suffer a major boycott of the company. To date, nearly 50,000 advocates have already signed a petition voicing this demand. For more information and to add your name to the petition, please visit ASPCA partner organization GREY2K USA.
Can we all agree that confining dogs in small cages for 20 to 23 hours a day, almost every day, is cruel?
True, this confinement doesn’t meet legal definitions of cruelty, but, legal or not, most of us who love dogs know that this is wrong. Yet this is the way of life for the thousands of greyhounds who are forced to race in this country’s greyhound industry.
Greyhound racing only occurs in seven states, with the majority of greyhound tracks located in Florida. This week, GREY2 USA, with funding from the ASPCA, released a report detailing the horrific conditions racing greyhounds are subject to in Florida. You can access a copy of the report here [PDF].
Racing greyhounds are in their cages nearly all the time. They are fed “4-D” meat, which means meat that comes from dying, diseased, disabled and dead livestock deemed unfit for human consumption. Their owners feed them this raw meat simply because it is the cheapest available, and they don’t even bother to cook it to destroy the bacteria.
Florida does not require its greyhound racing facilities to report injuries to the public, but we have documentation of dogs with broken legs, backs and skulls; dogs who have died of seizures after racing; dogs who have died of heart attacks; and a dog who was electrocuted. Racing dogs have repeatedly tested positive for drugs such as cocaine.
While the dogs suffer every day as part of this industry, few people even seem to notice. Attendance at greyhound races has dramatically declined through the years, and tracks actually lose money on the dogs. But since Florida law won’t permit dog track owners to continue gambling operations at those tracks unless those tracks hold dog races, the races continue.
Two bills (HB 641 and SB 382) are pending in Florida that would remove the requirement that dog tracks offer live greyhound racing in order to also offer card games or slots. If you live in Florida, please contact your legislators to ask them to support this legislation.
Every year, thousands of young and healthy Greyhounds are euthanized because they are no longer deemed worthy racers. ASPCA staffer Lauren discusses adopting her Greyhound rescue, Lewis.
When my fiancé, Grant, and I began looking for a dog, we assumed that we would need to narrow our search to smaller breeds because of our NYC lifestyle. Having both grown up in the country, we were partial to larger breeds. On a whim, I searched for large-breed dogs that are suitable for apartment living. Much to our surprise, Greyhounds were the most recommended! It was my understanding that these dogs required extensive exercise, but as it turns out they have two speeds—45mph and sleeping.
The Search Begins For the next three weeks, Grant and I did nothing but research everything Greyhound related! The more we learned, the more we fell in love with the breed. We eventually found a rescue group that served NYC and got in touch with a wonderful volunteer named Linda. Two weeks later, she visited our apartment with a spotted, male Greyhound who had recently retired from the industry. While this gentle giant had some difficulty climbing the stairs to our apartment, once inside he had no problem exploring every inch—all 400 square feet!
Our Boy When Linda left that day, Grant and I looked at each other and without words knew we had found our dog. We called Linda the next day and arranged to pick him up. Being an avid (obsessive) Formula 1 fan, Grant decided to name our new dog Lewis after Lewis Hamilton, the race car driver. Considering his retired profession, I found it quite fitting. When we got Lewis home, he quickly conquered the stairs and felt right at home in our modest Upper East Side apartment.
Today, Lewis is the absolute love of our lives. Because of his size and gentle nature, he has also become a bit of a celebrity in our neighborhood—working his way into the hearts of everyone he meets.