Monday, March 18, 2013


As many of you who read Scission know, i have been fortunate enough to have been best friends over the past fifteen years with three different retired racing greyhounds, Sasha, Whitney, and now Hawk.  As such, I have come to learn way more then I wish to know about the terrible lives these loving creatures are forced to live during their days and nights in the racing industry.  The term "mistreatment", doesn't do what is done to them justice.  In Kansas, for just one example, greyhounds are classified as livestock and, well, you know how livestock are treated.

I decided this year to regularly devote some space here at Scission to the fight to give my friends, and their friends, a better live by exposing as much as possible the greedy bastards who make up and run the greyhound racing industries, who see these wonderful dogs as just another commodity, just another way for them to make a buck.

Today, I want to thank the group Grey2K USA for leading me to information that I am about to pass on to you.  An investigation was  conducted recently by the group and the ASPCA entitled "Greyhound Racing in Texas" is available in full  here.   The Executive Summary of the report reads:

This report on greyhound racing in Texas is based on information that is recent, specific to Texas, and from credible sources such as state records and news reports. It includes information on both humane and economic issues.

As the data is examined, some basic facts emerge:

Greyhounds endure lives of confinement

Hundreds of greyhounds endure lives of confinement at Gulf Greyhound Park

According to state regulations the minimum dog track cage size is three feet, by four feet, by three feet

Large greyhounds cannot stand fully erect in these cages • The state has no rules governing turn out times

Greyhounds suffer serious injuries

From January 2008 through December 2011 a total of 1,507 greyhound racing injuries were reported at Texas tracks

A total of 56 greyhound injuries resulted in death or euthanasia

The most commonly reported injury was a broken leg. Other reported injuries include torn muscles, puncture wounds, lacerations, dislocations, sprains, paralysis and a fractured skull

Greyhound racing is a dying industry

Between 2007 and 2012 the total amount gambled on live pari-mutuel racing at Texas dog tracks declined by 61% and attendance declined by 52%

Texas dog track executives and industry figures have publicly acknowledged that greyhound racing is no longer viable

Other Issues

Greyhounds in Texas are fed 4-D meat as a way to reduce cost

In 2011 a greyhound trainer failed to obtain veterinary care for an injured greyhound until two days after the injury had occurred

In 2011 a Texas greyhound trainer surrendered his state license after he was caught on video using live rabbits to train greyhounds

In 2012 six greyhounds died at Gulf Greyhound Park from a form of canine influenza

Again, I advise you go back and read the full report. 

The following is from The Daily News of Galveston County.

Animal welfare groups fight 'commodifying man's best friend'


LA MARQUE — A report by two national animal welfare groups indicts greyhound racing as an archaic, inherently cruel and dying industry desperately trying to survive through subsidies from more popular and humane forms of gambling.

The groups, Grey2K USA and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, released the report Wednesday, in part to fight legislation that would subsidize greyhound racing by allowing casino games at dog parks, and to inform Texans about the sport’s “dark side.”

The Texas Greyhound Association, which represents breeders, said the report contained misinformation meant to sour dog-loving Texans on a legitimate and humane sport.

The report was based on records submitted by the industry itself to the Texas Racing Commission, said Christine A. Dorchak, president and general counsel of Grey2K. The Massachusetts-based group, which bills itself as the country’s largest greyhound protection organization, obtained the records through the Texas Public Information Act, Dorchak said.

The ASPCA, the nation’s oldest and one of the world’s largest humane organizations, funded the project through a grant.

“The reason we decided to partner with Grey2K is that its work is based on objective data,” said Deborah Foote, state legislative director for the society’s Southwest region.

The report focuses on Gulf Greyhound Park in La Marque, which is one of three tracks remaining in Texas but is the only one still routinely offering live dog racing.

Texas tracks, including Gulf, make most of their money from simulcasting horse and dog races.      

A dog’s life

Racing dogs spend most of their lives, as much as 22 hours a day, warehoused in stacked cages measuring 3 feet tall, 3 feet wide and 4 feet deep, according to the report.

“Large greyhounds stand between 23 inches and 30 inches tall at the shoulder,” Dorchak said. “That means they can’t even stand fully erect in the cages used at Texas dog tracks.”

The dogs are free from the cages only when they are racing or briefly during a few times a day when they are turned out to relieve themselves, according to the report.

But John Dalton, a greyhound breeder and vice president of the Texas Greyhound Association, said dogs at Gulf are regularly exercised.

“We are not warehousing dogs,” Dalton said. “Think about this logically. If I have invested $3,000 in raising and training a racing dog, I need him to do well so I can recover that money.

“If I need the dog to do well, why on Earth would I keep him cooped up in a cage for 22 hours a day?”

The dogs also are regularly released from cages when they are not racing or being exercised on the track, he said.

“They are let out at 6 a.m., 11 a.m., 4 p.m., 7 p.m. and 10 p.m. for 45 minutes to an hour,” Dalton said.

Dead, dying, disabled or diseased

The groups also take issue with the practice of feeding racing dogs “4-D” meat. The name comes from a U.S. Department of Agriculture designation of meat from cattle that were “dead, dying, disabled or diseased” when they reached the slaughterhouse.

“The meat from these carcasses is boned, and the meat is packaged or frozen without heat processing,” according to the USDA’s website. “The raw, frozen meat is shipped for use by several industries, including pet food manufacturers, zoos, greyhound kennels and mink ranches.”  

The meat is not healthy for the dogs to eat, Dorchak said.

But Dalton said the meat is of good quality and does not harm the dogs.  

The government offered a mild warning about 4-D meat.

“This meat may present a potential health hazard to the animals that consume it and to the people who handle it.”

That’s entertainment  

Even cast in the best light, greyhound racing is an inherently cruel form of entertainment, the groups argue.

The report notes that between January 2008 and December 2011, dogs suffered 1,507 injuries at Gulf Greyhound Park. The most common injury was broken legs at 19 percent, followed by other fractures at 12 percent, torn muscles and ligaments at 15 percent and pulled muscles at 15 percent.

During the same period, 56 dogs either died from or were put down because of injury, according to the report.

“That’s 31 injuries a month,” Dorchak said. “That would be an injury a day, but it’s worse than that because Gulf races only five days a week.”

The treatment of injured dogs shows the industry thinks of them as exploitable, expendable commodities, rather than living beings, said Dorchak, who owns a retired greyhound.

“If a racing dog is injured so badly it can’t race, it’s put down,” Dorchak said. “If my dog breaks its leg, I’m going to take her to the vet.”

Breeders, owners and the tracks work constantly to reduce the number of injuries and make racing safer for the dogs, Dalton said.

Shoe-leather referendum

Perhaps the bottom line for the animal welfare groups is a general decline in attendance and amounts gambled at Texas dog tracks.

Attendance at Texas dog tracks has fallen 45 percent, from more than 450,000 visitors a year in 2007 to slightly more than 250,000 in 2011, according to the report.

The amount spent on gambling at live races fell 55 percent, from about $23 million in 2007 to $10.4 million in 2011, according to the report.

“Texans already have voted on greyhound racing,” Foote said. “They voted with their feet by not going to the tracks.”

Without subsidies from more popular forms of gambling, such as slot machines, greyhound racing is doomed in Texas, the groups argue. The only question is how long it will linger and how much the dogs will suffer in the meantime, Foote said.

Sally Briggs, general manager of Gulf Greyhound Park, said she didn’t think the sport was doomed without slot machines being allowed at tracks.

“We have come up with a lot of new ways to make revenue, like renting out our parking lot to other events,” she said.

Bleak forecast  

The racing industry has tried for at least the last three legislative sessions to pass a bill allowing casino style gambling at Texas horse and dog tracks.

Industry leaders have testified that the future “looks very bleak” for Texas dog racing without slot machines at dog tracks, according to testimony quoted in the report.

Several bills are currently in the Texas House and Senate that would allow some sort of casino gambling at horse and dog tracks, said Foote, who tracks bills for the society.

Most of the political bookmakers are convinced that none of those bills will make it to law this year, however.

That would only mean business as usual for Gulf, Briggs said.  

“I don’t see how failure of bills in this session will hurt us any more than it has in the past,” she said.


Foote made it clear the groups were not opposed to gambling in general and might support legislation that allowed casino gambling at dog tracks as long as it didn’t also require live racing.

The rationale for “decoupling” is that track operators would be the first to get rid of live racing if a more profitable alternative existed, Dorchak said.

Grey2K was working with track operators to pass just such legislation in Florida, the country’s biggest dog-racing state, she said. Those efforts were being opposed by breeders, Dorchak said.

Similar fights might be in store for Texas during future legislative sessions, but for now, the groups want Texans to think about the 600 or so dogs kenneled at Gulf Greyhound Park every day.

“We just want to educate people about this industry,” Dorchak said. “We want them to know that it subjects these wonderful dogs to unnecessary cruelty and injury, and we hope that once they know that, they’ll support the end game, which is to end greyhound racing.”

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