Racing Greyhounds suffer on the track, routinely experiencing terrible injuries such as broken legs, cardiac arrest, paralysis and broken necks. They suffer off the track as well: Dogs caught up in this cruel industry spend most of their lives stacked in warehouse-style kennels for 20 or more hours a day, or are kept outdoors in dirt pens with minimal shelter. They are not afforded basic veterinary care, human affection, or adequate sustenance.
This is enough for most states to turn their back on the ugly practice, but Greyhound racing tracks still operate in seven states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Texas and West Virginia. More than half of all active American tracks, 12 of 21, are in Florida.
In February 2015, Greyhound advocacy group GREY2K USA and the ASPCA released the first-ever national report on Greyhound racing in the United States. The detailed report chronicles thousands of Greyhound injuries and hundreds of Greyhound deaths in the seven states where Greyhound tracks still operate. The report, titled “High Stakes,” was mailed to state lawmakers and opinion leaders to urge them to bring an end to this inherently cruel “sport.”
You can download High Stakes in PDF form here. Key findings from 2008-2015 include:
- 11,722 Greyhound injuries. Injuries include more than 3,000 dogs who suffered broken legs and other injuries such as crushed skulls, broken backs, paralysis and electrocutions.
- 909 racing Greyhound deaths. The true number of deaths is likely higher as there are no verifiable statistics on the ultimate fate of Greyhounds who survive racing but are disposed of each year when injured or no longer competitive.
- 27 cases of Greyhound cruelty and neglect. This figure captures the number of dogs who were starved to death, denied veterinary care, or endured poor track kennel conditions. Additionally, 16 racing Greyhounds tested positive for cocaine.
- More than 80,000 young Greyhounds have entered the racing industry. Greyhounds are kept in warehouse-style kennel compounds, in rows of stacked cages for long hours each day.
- 2,200 state disciplinary rulings have been issued since 2008. Racing Commissions have a history of regulatory failures and industry attempts at self-regulating have proven to be ineffective.
Since 1991, 41 dog tracks have closed or ended live racing, and the Greyhound industry has seen a steady financial decline. Over the past decade, gambling on dog racing and Greyhound breeding has declined by 66% and 57%, respectively. Government revenue from dog racing has dropped by 79% since 2001. As profits have declined, cost-cutting attempts—like feeding Greyhounds inexpensive “4-D” meat—resulted in poor track kennel conditions as well.
In 2015, it’s bewildering that routine cruelty leading to the frequent deaths of dogs is considered a reasonable consequence of a legal sport. That it still happens is a national shame, and whether by market pressures or the power of our voices, it must end.
If you know a Greyhound, it’s likely you love a Greyhound. Please help save them. Here’s how.