11 Nov GREYHOUNDS USED FOR RACING
Anyone who has encountered a greyhound will know that they are gentle and affectionate dogs who want little more than a soft bed and a loving home. Tragically though, as greyhounds are bred for no other purpose than to race and win, the vast majority who don’t make the grade are discarded and will never get to experience that loving home. Further issues resulting from using greyhounds as commodities for the gambling industry are highlighted below.
THE NEVER-ENDING CYCLE OF THE BREEDING AND KILLING OF YOUNG AND HEALTHY DOGS
In Australia, around 20,000 greyhounds are bred each year in the hope of finding the next fast runner. Of these dogs, 7,000 of them (40%) will be considered too slow to pay their way or unsuitable for racing. These dogs are considered “wastage”.
Greyhounds Australasia, the peak body for Australian greyhound racing admitted[i] that the industry has been responsible for the deaths of up to 17,000 healthy greyhounds per year, with most killed before their fifth birthday. In 2016, Greyhound Racing Victoria’s annual report [ii] revealed that over 3000 registered greyhounds (more than 8 dogs per day) were killed in 2015-2016 for reasons including “owners unable to find homes” and “end of career decisions by their owners”.
Many greyhound deaths aren’t recorded in industry annual reports. Several mass graves[iii] of greyhounds have been discovered in Australia, where dogs have been killed brutally, either shot or beaten to death.
This huge excess of unwanted greyhounds also makes them vulnerable to be sold to vet clinics where they are routinely drained of blood then euthanised[iv], and to universities[v] where they are experimented on and killed. Furthermore, many unwanted greyhounds are offered for free on Gumtree[vi] or other websites, where they can be easily collected as live bait for illegal dog fighting rings or used for cross-breeding hunting dogs. Forced cross-breeding with larger dogs frequently results in severe physical injury or even death to the greyhound mother during the birthing process.
WIDESPREAD DOPING AND LIVE BAITING
Investigations by Animals Australia and Animal Liberation Queensland have revealed that live baiting is a routine and accepted training method used by dozens of Australian greyhound trainers.
Greyhounds are baited with small live animals, such as possums, rabbits, piglets and kittens to encourage them to chase. These animals are tied to a lure where dogs are taunted and stimulated into aggressive behaviour before being allowed to maul them to death. The incredible cruelty and suffering involved in this illegal, but common practice, cannot be understated.
Dogs are being drugged with cocaine, amphetamines, caffeine and EPO. Sydney trainer Christos Arletos has been racing greyhounds for 25 years and says there “never was, and never will be” a level playing field for the punter. “Eighty per cent of greyhound trainers are looking for something to dope their dogs,” he said[vii]. This has been validated with scores of people in the industry found guilty every year for this practice.
Doping is such a commonly accepted practice in the greyhound racing industry, that just days after trainer Linda Britton[viii] was suspended for 18 months after pleading guilty to doping dogs with anabolic steroids, industry officials awarded her the title WA’s No. 1 Trainer. Unsurprisingly, a 2018 report[ix] also revealed that greyhounds test positive for drugs 10 times more than horses at races.
POOR QUALITY OF LIFE AND HIGH RISK OF INJURIES
An average of 5 dogs are killed every week on the track in Australia, while up to up to 200 are reported injured during official races each week. These serious injuries include broken legs and head trauma and some even die from cardiac arrest due to the extreme physical stress of racing. In many cases, it is more ‘economical’ to have an injured dog killed rather than treat the injury.
Another significant welfare issue both on the racetrack and also during transport to and from the track is heat stress. Greyhounds are particularly sensitive to hot weather, and it is legal to race and transport them on days exceeding 30 degrees.
When they are not racing, greyhounds can spend over 23 hours of every day in small kennels and are commonly bred in puppy farm-like conditions, with poor hygiene and general care practices. Others (like Phoenix featured in the video below) that are not racing, are kept in paddocks with little socialisation.
VULNERABLE TO EXPORT
Australian greyhounds are being exported to appalling conditions in Macau, China and Vietnam where they face extremely cruel treatment and certain death. There are no adoption schemes in these countries and so each and every one of these dogs are killed once they outlive their usefulness.
The federal government permitted the export of 590 greyhounds deemed too “slow” to Macau in the two years after the country was blacklisted by the racing industry over the 100% death rate and poor welfare standards.
The New South Wales greyhound regulator even charged its own board member, Michael Eberand over the unauthorised export[x] of a dog, highlighting that the entrenched culture of greed over ‘welfare’ goes all the way to the top.
ADOPTION RATES ARE A DROP IN THE OCEAN
The industry’s Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP) operates in most states but rehomes only 6% of all pre-raced and ‘retired’ greyhounds. The longest established GAP in Victoria rehomed 536 greyhounds in 2014, and the other states significantly fewer. There are other rescue groups rehoming greyhounds, but those efforts still amount to only 10% of dogs born into the industry living out a natural lifespan.
As long as greyhound racing exists, the cruelty and killing will continue. There is simply no way of making this ‘sport’ victimless. Even if the thousands bred and killed each year became hundreds, the number would still be unacceptable. If the hundreds were to become tens, it would still be unacceptable. Not one animal should suffer and die for human greed and entertainment.
Greyhounds are born companions — just like any other dog. You can help these gentile[xi], affectionate dogs by vowing to never bet on greyhound racing, and to support a ban on greyhound racing. The ACT is the first state or territory in Australia where greyhound racing will be illegal because of extreme animal cruelty, and it won’t be the last.
Amy’s passion for raising awareness for the plight of greyhounds is dedicated to her first beloved greyhound companion, Joanie.
Occupation: Graphic Designer
Founder Companions Not Commodities – www.companionsnotcommodities.com
Article cover image by Jo-Anne McArthur / We Animals