Racing greyhounds testing positive for cocaine is only one of the problems inherent in track life for these animals. But it is prevalent, guarded and disgusting. As an owner of two senior greyhound rescues, the issue of track abuse has become a personal one for me over the years. (I just lost my sweet male, Harvey, to osteosarcoma, pictured above). My husband and I have rescued seven greyhounds in the last 12 years and we will continue as long as we are able to do so.
I do not consider a desire to ban greyhound racing to be partisan issue. Animal lovers come from all walks of life. The idea of forcing dogs to chase a fake rabbit around a track so that people can bet money on them just seems barbaric, especially in hot climate states like Florida. The high risk of injury is also frightening. I often wonder how the gamblers would feel about their own dogs being forced to do this activity.
Greyhounds are a unique breed. They are very gentle and docile and make wonderful pets. They do love to run, but why not only when they want to? They cannot sweat, so many racers get enlarged hearts to compensate, and some actually die of heat stroke.
Much abuse has been reported regarding greyhound racing. Dogs are kept isolated in crates for up to 20 hours. They usually have very poor gums and teeth; they have worms, fleas, and other parasites, and many are battle scarred from track injuries. Often, the hounds are put down due to illness or broken limbs.
In the past, there were such high numbers of greyhounds retiring from racing, that more were just put down than rescued. That is not the case in the United States anymore, as many tracks have been shut down due to efforts of activist groups. Around the world though, in Great Britain, and Australia, and South America, greyhound racing is a dominant sport and there is a surplus of dogs that are euthanized every year. (The close relative of the greyhound in South America and Spain is called a Galgo).
Calling attention to the poor track conditions and treatment of the hounds needs to continue. With the advent of social media, much more is able to be done. There are good Facebook groups created such as, Greyhound Owners Against Racing.
Tracey Coyle, who rescued a sweet hound with many physical problems named Wilma in New Zealand, started a foundation in her name a few years ago. Wilma is now gone, and Tracey has four rescues. She works tirelessly to raise money for awareness for the foundation, aiming to close down tracks worldwide.
Tracey’s Facebook page is, Saving Wilma – Slow Broken Old Greyhound Racing’s Dirty Little Secrets. Her page exposes atrocities and has items available for purchase. The proceeds all go to the foundation. Many of the items are hand made by Tracey.
One of the main issues a potential adopter of a greyhound will confront is whether the adoption agency is “track friendly“, “track neutral” or “anti-racing“. A track-friendly agency usually has an arrangement with a greyhound track so that it can get the rescues from that track. It’s not a bad thing in itself. They do home the dogs quickly and prior to that, put them through medical screening.
The problem is the perpetuation of racing because the adoption agency and the track have an agreement. I was told by a track-friendly agency that if greyhound racing were to end, that the hounds would become extinct. That is a ridiculous notion. Greyhounds are loved by owners around the world and would be bred just for the purpose of having them as pets. They also make wonderful therapy dogs, and some are used in prisons by guards as well because they are very obedient and large.
Track-neutral and anti-racing agencies do not have an agenda to keep racing active. Their main goal is to find homes for the hounds from any track that will supply them. All agencies usually take in hounds to be rehomed. These are greyhounds coming from situations where a family has split up or the owner has passed away, and the dog needs a new home. It’s difficult to find a home for any older dog, but greyhounds have a way of getting into a person’s heart.
I am deeply saddened, when I see them at Meet and Greet events where they are on display for potential homing, to think of where they had come from. If you have ever looked into the eyes of a greyhound, you would understand why track life is no place for a creature that just needs comfort and love.
This is one of my greyhounds.
Janice Barlow is a true crime author. But she has just released a book about Daisy, her most special Greyhound from Daisy’s point of view – Daisy’s Amazing Diary – A Greyhound Tale. It is on Amazon, in either black and white, or a color photo edition, and on Kindle. Fifty percent of the proceeds go to the Triangle Greyhound Society, in Carey, NC.