Modern greyhound racing got its start in California in 1919. At this time, the invention of a mechanical lure made it easy to encourage the dogs to run around a racetrack. Spectators quickly began betting on the dogs, and a new industry was born. Unfortunately, where there is money to be made, people often succumb to their coarser instincts. In greyhound racing, that meant developing cruel practices designed to breed and train dogs who become viewed and treated as commodities rather than living creatures.
What is Greyhound Racing?
The greyhound breed has a strong prey drive, and dog racers use this to encourage the dogs to race. In a race, owners line up their dogs and then release a mechanical rabbit. This faux rabbit is on a track that runs around the race course. As it moves, the Greyhounds’ prey drives kick in, and they chase the rabbit around the track. The dogs aren’t really racing at all. They’re simply following the instinct that tells them to hunt and kill prey that they can eat.
Why is Greyhound Racing Cruel?
At the track, people view greyhounds as assets rather than pets. Only the best and fastest dogs make money. Those who can’t keep up or suffer an injury on the track are often euthanized, sometimes inhumanely. The typical retirement age for a racing dog is usually between 18 months and five years. After that, dog owners kill them or use them for breeding. Proven winners don’t fare much better. Track and dog owners store winning dogs in crates stacked in barns and warehouses where they get very little exercise or attention between races.
How to Help
No one person can single-handedly stop greyhound racing, but everyone can help. Adopting a rescued greyhound is an excellent way to support the cause, as is donating to a greyhound rescue organization. Greyhound racing is still legal in 10 states. People living in them can get involved by asking their lawmakers and legislators to make greyhound racing illegal. Of course, refusing to visit racetracks or place bets on the dogs helps too.
Greyhounds are a loving and social breed who just don’t thrive in a racetrack environment. Supporters have made great strides in protecting the breed and banning races, but there are still many more of these gentle giants in need of rescue.
Lisa Landman is a strong advocate of adopting pets and has six rescue dogs! Want to see photos of her dogs? Check our her dog gallery or Twitter!