Humane Society of the United
Fact Sheet: Greyhound
1. Do problems exist with greyhound racing?
Yes. Greyhound racing constitutes animal abuse because
of the industrys excessive surplus breeding
practices, the often cruel methods by which unwanted
dogs are disposed of, the daily conditions in which
many dogs are forced to live, and the killing and
maiming of bait animals, such as rabbits, during
training exercises. The industry exists solely for
the entertainment and profit of people often
at the expense of the animals welfare.
2. Where does the greyhound racing industry get
dogs to race?
Every year, the industry breeds teens of thousands
of greyhounds, more than it can place at race tracks.
This over breeding is motivated by the incentive
to produce "winning" dogs. (Hundreds of
greyhounds raced at each track are disposed of yearly
in order to bring in a "fresh" group of
dogs.) A dogs racing career is usually over
at 3.5 to 4 years of age.
3. What is a greyhounds life expectancy?
If able to live out his or her full life as a companion
animal, a greyhound may live to be approximately
13 years old. Unfortunately, however, the industry
is responsible for greyhounds being killed at various
stages of the dogs lives because they appear
to lack racing potential or are injured. Of the
percentage of dogs who race, many are adopted into
good homes when they are no longer profitable to
the industry, but thousands are not. As with any
business, profit is the bottom line; therefore,
greyhounds are often disposed of by using the least
expensive methods, including gunshot. Reports of
bludgeoning, abandonment and starvation have also
surfaced. Veterinarians humanely euthanize some
4. What is the daily existence of a racing dog?
Racing greyhounds spend the majority of their adult
lives in crates or pens or in fenced enclosures.
Human companionship is limited. Many enclosures
are not climate-controlled, causing the dogs distress
during inclement weather.
5. Are any other animals abused by the greyhound
Greyhound training activities have been known to
cause as many as 100,000 domestic rabbits and wild
jackrabbits to be maimed and killed every year.
(This figure is based on HSUS investigations into
the illegal importation of rabbits as well as the
use of animals in training events.) One particular
event, known as "coursing," involves greyhounds
chasing, terrorizing and eventually killing rabbits
within fenced enclosures. Some industry representatives
have argued that this activity enhances the dogs
racing ability because theyll develop a "taste
for blood." But greyhounds are sight, not blood,
hounds and their inclination to run is instigated
by a moving object, not the scent of blood. The
use of live lures is not permitted in at least 14
states, but such laws are difficult to enforce.
6. Why would a state legalize such cruelty?
Lawmakers perceive racing as a way to raise needed
revenue. Most are initially unaware of the inhumane
treatment involved. The reality, however, is that
state revenue generated by dog tracks amounts on
average to far less than one percent of a states
7. What is the status of greyhound racing?
With attendance at race tracks dwindling nationwide,
greyhound racing is on the decline but still entrenched
in a number of states. Seven states have specific
bans on live greyhound racing: Idaho, Maine, North
Carolina, Nevada, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.
All of these bans were passed in the 1990s. Forty-six
tracks operate in 15 states. Simulcast dog racing
takes place in two other states.
During the 1990s, the greyhound racing industrys
gross betting handle (total amount wagered) has
declined thus far by a staggering 45% with an approximate
5-6% drop in 1998. Declines would have been steeper
if simulcasting monies were removed from the numbers,
showing that on-track betting and live racing are
sharply declining sources of income and entertainment.
In this decade, the industry has experienced the
net closure of 13 tracks, approximately a 20% decline.
Meanwhile in the 1990s, the Dow Jones Industrial
Average has roughly quadrupled. While the U.S. economy
has experienced unprecedented growth and prosperity,
greyhound racing has taken a nosedive. Americans
are clearly voting with their wallets and consciences
that they do not want any part of this businesses.
Information supplied by the American Gaming Association
shows recent greyhound racing revenues (total amount
wagered less paid winnings) of $509 million represent
only 1.0% of the countrys $51 billion in gaming
revenues from sources that also include horse racing,
jai alai, lotteries, riverboat gambling, charitable
games and bingo, card rooms, bookmaking and casinos.
For perspective, horse racing revenues were $3.2
billion or 6.3% of total gaming revenues in 1997.
Greyhound racing accounted for an even smaller percentage
of the nations total betting handle than its
revenues, only 0.4%.
8. How is the greyhound racing industry fighting
Because of the unavoidable trends in the economic
data for greyhound racing, many tracks have lost
enthusiasm for promoting dog racing and, instead,
are concentrating on gaming. Currently, five tracks
in three states have slots at the tracks (Iowa,
Rhode Island and West Virginia) but tracks everywhere
are pushing their state legislatures to add slot
machines, video lottery terminals and/or some other
form of gambling to prop up their flailing dog-racing
operations. An Orlando Sentinel article in February
1999 detailed how the gambling industry and its
lobbyists which includes greyhound racing
have flooded Florida state legislators with
contributions, despite the Florida electorates
repeated defeats of expanded gambling in the state.
The expansion of gaming oat dog tracks may possibly
improve some tracks financial problems but
it will definitely perpetuate the misery and untimely
destruction of healthy, young and adoptable greyhound
dogs. A recent Wall Street Journal headline read:
"Casino Gambling Leaves Greyhound Racing in
the Dirt." In 1998, International Gaming and
Wagering Business said, "If racing is to provide
the New York Times wrong and survive in America,
making new fans isnt the first priority, its
the only priority. Industries that cant recruit
new customers die." In almost every state where
greyhound racing exists, dog tracks are pressing
for tax relief of state subsidies to survive.
Meanwhile, the greyhound racing industrys
public relations strategy comprises trying to confuse
Americans into believing that humane organizations
are extremist animal rights organizations that have
failed greyhounds by spending time and money publicly
addressing the thousands of dog deaths for which
the industry is annually responsible, as well as
the horrific living conditions that greyhounds sometimes
face. The HSUS, however, believes that devoting
funds to humane education (for example, promoting
the message of spaying and neutering pets) represents
one of the best practical applications of the old
proverb that says "an ounce of prevention is
worth a pound of cure."
9. Could the greyhound racing industry ever be
operated in a humane manner?
No. The racing industry in inherently cruel. Greyhound
racing is a form of gaming in which the amount of
money a dog generates determines his or her expendability.
The answer of greyhounds is neither regulation of
dog racing nor adoption of "retired" dogs,
but elimination of the greyhound racing industry.
10. Arent "retired greyhounds adopted?
What happens to those who arent adopted?
Greyhounds make wonderful companion animals and
are loving and responsive to human contact. Unfortunately,
thousands of "retired" greyhounds are
not adopted each year. Many greyhound owners who
own their greyhounds solely as financial investments
use adoption programs as dumping grounds when the
dogs are no longer profitable. Although the HSUS
applauds the efforts of those volunteers who give
their time and money to place unwanted greyhounds
in loving homes through greyhound adoption programs,
an estimated 20,000 to 25,000 surplus greyhounds
are destroyed each year because the industry no
longer wants them and there re not enough homes
to accept them. Many other greyhounds are either
sold to research labs, returned to breeding facilities
to serve as breeding stock or sent to foreign racetracks,
sometimes in developing countries.
11. Who oversees the racing industry and arent
there laws to protect greyhounds?
State racing commissions exist to regulate the
industry, but their primary function is to protect
the states financial interests, not to enhance
animal welfare practices. The racing industry is
virtually self-regulated. Unlike other commercial
animal enterprises such as commercial animal
breeding, zoos, circuses, and animal transportation
via airlines greyhound racing is not governed
by the federal Animal Welfare Act, which is enforced
by the United States Department of Agriculture.
12. In what states is dog racing legal and how many tracks
exist in each state?
13. What is The HSUS doing to help solve this problem?
The HSUS investigates industry abuses, works to educate the
public about the inherent cruelty of this industry, and initiates
and supports legislation to ban greyhound racing. The HSUS believes
that as long as greyhound racing continues in this country,
dogs bred for no other reason than to race will be needlessly
put to death, simply because the industry views them as liabilities
that cant make money at the track. That is, unless the
dog-racing industry itself ensures through its own funding
the adoption of every dog it breeds. This population
includes not only retired racers, but also thousands of industry-bred
puppies who never make it to the track because they are deemed
unacceptable for racing.
more information on greyhound racing, please contact The Humane
Society of the United States, 2100 L Street, N.W., Washington,
D.C. 20037, (202) 452-1100
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