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History and Racing Data

The greyhound has been in existence for over 4,000 years as a pet and a hunter. To run is a greyhound’s basic instinct. They are gentle by nature and have always had a strong relationship with humans. Their sleek body, long legs, flexible spine and thin skin make them very aerodynamic.

Importing of greyhounds to the United States came in the late 1800’s to control the jackrabbit population in the Midwest; coursing events soon followed.

Greyhound track racing, as we know it today, began in 1919 in California with the invention of a mechanical lure. For the next 65 years the status of the greyhound declined as people saw these dogs race and concluded that they were high strung, aggressive and unloving.

Racing is regulated by state or local laws. However, according to most state regulators their department monitors the financial aspects of greyhound racing, but the welfare of the animals is the responsibility of the owners and trainers. Each track can impose their own rules, policies and procedures and are to employ a veterinarian who is to examine the dogs before a race and also be responsible for vaccinations, treatments and medications.

Today there are 39 dog tracks in the United States racing in 13 states: Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Florida, Iowa, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Hampshire, Texas, West Virginia and Wisconsin. Since the 1990’s legislation has permitted several tracks to also operate lottery terminals or slot machines giving a major victory for the financially troubled racing industry; but a huge defect to animal activist. The states that offer casino-type games along with greyhound racing are Alabama, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Rhode Island and West Virginia. Clearly this is the beginning of a revitalization of the racing industry and the breeders. Racetracks in other states continue to lobby for legislation that will permit them to expand their gaming operations.

Greyhound racing is first and foremost a business and the average racetrack needs 1000 dogs which are continually being replaced as the dogs grade-off due to injury, age or poor performance. Dog racing is a supply and demand business.

Animal activists consider the racing industry as one of entertainment and profit of people at the expense of the animals. The industry’s surplus breeding, the often cruel methods the dogs are destroyed, the daily conditions in which the dogs are forced to live, and the use of bait animals (although not permitted but difficult to enforce) are considered animal abuse. Profit is the bottom line and, although most are humanely euthanized, the greyhounds are often destroyed using the least expensive method. Reports of gunshot, bludgeoning, abandonment and starvation have surfaced.

The National Greyhound Association is based in Abilene, Kansas and is the official registry for all racing greyhounds in the United States and Mexico. Records about every racing puppy and bloodline are registered.

There are 700 greyhound breeding farms and kennels. All greyhounds bred must be reported within 10 days from breeding and a litter registration number is issued. Within 75 days, NGA must be notified of one of four possibilities: puppies were “whelped”, breeding was “missed, pregnancy was “aborted” (bred with relative) or “other” (female died). All puppies must be reported and documented and then tattooed by three months of age then individually registered and named before 12-18 months; depending on location of track.

According to the National Greyhound Association (NGA) 128,593 litters were registered from 1986-2006. The standard litter was 6.52 dogs, estimating 838,426 racing greyhounds born during this period. However, only 652,205 dogs were individually registered; meaning 186,221 dogs were eliminated from the system before reaching racing age (12 – 18 months). Because the rescue of farm dogs is rare, the majority of these dogs are presumed dead. During this same period about 179,000 greyhounds were adopted and approximately 56,000 are racing or living on breeding or training farms. This indicates possibly 600,000 greyhounds have died in this 21-year period. The decline in profit in the racing business has led to a sharp reduction in greyhounds bred in the past 15 years; from 40,000 to 20,000. Statistics for 2006 indicate 24,567 greyhounds were born. Approximately 14,800 were adopted.

The average racetrack needs 1000 dogs which are continually replacing greyhounds that grade-off due to injury, age or poor performance. Dog racing is a supply and demand business.

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