Cruel and Inhumane
Dog racing is cruel and inhumane, and should be phased out. While at the racetrack, dogs live a life of nearly endless confinement, suffer serious injuries, and are sometimes killed when they are no longer profitable.
A Life of Confinement
While at the racetrack, dogs are confined in small cages barely large enough for them to stand up or turn around for long hours each day. On average, over one thousand dogs live in warehouse style kennels at each racetrack.
Dogs Suffer Serious Injuries
Thousands of dogs are seriously injured each year at commercial racetracks, including dogs that suffer broken legs, cardiac arrest, spinal cord paralysis and broken necks. Unfortunately, not all of these injuries are reported to the public because some states do not even keep records on the number of dogs injured each year.
Dogs are Killed When They are No Longer Profitable
Thousands of dogs are killed when they are injured or are no longer fast enough to be profitable. According to the pro-racing National Greyhound Association, an estimated 5,000 dogs were killed in 2003.
Dogs Are Transported in a Dangerous Manner
Because dogs typically compete at several racetracks during their career, professional haulers transport large numbers of dogs from one racetrack to another. During this process, dogs are transported in cramped conditions, and in some cases undergo cross-country trips in unventilated, aluminum trailers or rental vans. According to Care of the Racing Greyhound, an industry handbook, transportation over long distances can cause dogs to suffer from dehydration, weight variation, and exhaustion.
In recent years, there have been several media-documented cases of racing dogs dying during transport. For example, in 2003 two dogs died en route from Oregon to Oklahoma.
Economic Pressure Leads to Animal Neglect
To racetrack promoters, dogs are short-term investments. Even the fastest dogs only race for a few years, and are expected to generate enough profit during that time to make up for the cost of their food and housing.
The pressure to generate gambling profits can lead to negligent care. Adoption groups frequently receive dogs in a general state of neglect, including dogs suffering from severe infestations of fleas, ticks, and internal parasites.
To cut costs, dogs are fed the cheapest meat available. According to Care of the Racing Greyhound, the primary sources for meat used to feed greyhounds in the United States are "abattoirs that have commercial products of 4-D meat for Greyhounds." It goes on to add, "The 'D' stands for dying, diseased, disabled and dead livestock ... this meat is used because it is the most economically feasible at this time."
The quality of veterinary care a dog receives can also be compromised by financial considerations.
Dogs Race in Extreme Weather Conditions
At commercial racetracks, dogs race on the hottest days of summer and the coldest days of winter. These extreme weather conditions can contribute to racing injuries.
Dogs are Trained With Live Animals, Such as Rabbits
Some members of the dog racing industry believe that training dogs with live animals, such as rabbits, causes them to run faster when competing. While the industry has publicly denounced this practice, it does still occur. In 2002 a greyhound breeder and owner had his state license suspended after he was caught using domestic rabbits to train his dogs. At least 180 rabbits were found at his kennel in rural Arizona. In 2011, a Texas greyhound trainer surrendered his license after he was caught on video using live rabbits to train dogs.
Some Trainers Give Dogs Performance Enhancing Drugs
Because commercial dog tracks are dependent on gambling revenue, there is always a risk that the integrity of races will be compromised by the use of performance enhancing drugs.
In 2002, Wisconsin state officials secretly filmed a greyhound trainer injecting 11 dogs before races with a foreign substance they believed to be boldenone, an anabolic steroid derived from testosterone. In a separate case, 119 dogs tested positive for cocaine at Florida racetracks between 2001 and 2003. Unfortunately, the state refused to investigate how these drug-positive dogs had ingested cocaine.
Dog Racing Should be Phased Out
Like all dogs, greyhounds deserve to be protected. Until dog racing is outlawed, dogs will continue to be confined in small cages for long hours each day, they will continue to suffer serious injuries, and will continue to face the risk of neglect and death.
It is time for citizens to stand up and say “enough is enough.” Please add your voice to the growing chorus of people who believe that it is wrong to treat dogs in this cruel manner.