|THIS LUCKY GREYHOUND FOUND A FOREVER HOME|
While the normal life span of a greyhound is 13 or more years, the average "career" of a racing greyhound is only three to five years, beginning when the dog is about 18 months old. I've written before about the abuse suffered by greyhounds during their racing "careers", but what about those who never get to race, or those who are "done" racing.
Hooray. Many are rescued and make a new life in wonderful homes. These are the very lucky greyhounds. Personally, I have adopted three of these wonderful dogs and they have been my best friends.
But there are many others who are not so lucky. These greyhounds "disappear."
Large numbers of greyhounds that retire or do not win a high percentage of races are destroyed by poisoning, drowning, starvation or being shot.
Greyhound racing only exists by over breeding and killing large numbers of dogs, and the economic viability requires that profits be valued above welfare. In New South Wales, Australia, Gone are the Dogs reports:
...there were 90,000 greyhounds bred in a 10 year period, with only 2552 being registered as companion animals. The CEO of Greyhound Racing NSW admits they do not have records to show what happens to greyhounds and their “best estimate” is around 3000 being killed annually in that state. We believe that this best “best estimate” is a gross underestimate and it is more likely 6000 killed per year – just in NSW.
At the website of John Kaye, a Greens member of the NSW Parliament we find this:
Thousands of healthy greyhounds are disappearing each year and are presumably being killed, revealing the shocking consequences of the failures of self-regulation of the racing industry. This is in addition to the often short and brutal lives of many of the greyhounds that do go on to race, according to Greens NSW MP John Kaye.
Data from the peak Australian industry body, Greyhounds Australasia, show that between 2,165 and 3,441 greyhounds are born each year but are never ‘named’. This represents between 28.3 per cent and 38.5 per cent of all greyhounds born in the state.
Dr Kaye said: “More than 28 per cent of dogs born in NSW disappear before they are given a name and access to a racetrack.
“The awful truth of this industry is that nothing is known of the fate of more than 2,200 greyhound puppies born each year in this state. Greyhound Racing NSW’s self-regulatory processes have created a smokescreen for the deliberate killing of healthy dogs.
“They join dogs from litters that are never registered and those who are discarded after they are named because they are two slow or are injured on the track.
“Only a tiny fraction of these ‘surplus’ dogs are re-homed. Others end up dead, often after terrifying and brutal deaths.
“Greyhound Racing NSW is refusing to take responsibility for the dogs that are not re-homed even though it is their failure as regulators that allows the death toll to continue.
“It is hardly surprising that an industry regulator that tolerates the killing of thousands of healthy dogs each year has almost no regard for the welfare of the greyhounds that go on to race and retire.
“Self-regulation of the greyhound racing industry condemns thousands of greyhound pups to be raised in conditions that make them entirely unsuitable for rehoming without massive investment in intensive rehabilitation.
“The lives of most of these dogs can only be described as short and brutal.
“Greyhound Racing NSW has allowed some breeders and trainers to run factories that mass produce physically and psychologically damaged dogs.
“This is an animal welfare catastrophe and a terrible burden for those breeders, owners and trainers who do look after their dogs and treat them with kindness and respect,” Dr Kaye said.
Recently the BBC looked into what happens to ex racing dogs.
Clarissa Baldwin, chairman of the Greyhound Forum, an umbrella group of carers, also accused the GBGB of a lack of transparency over what she terms “a gap” in the figures as to what happens to greyhounds after they retire. She described getting “a runaround” from the GBGB when seeking answers.
Daniel Foggo, the BBC reporter, said he felt greyhound racing had something to hide when the GBGB failed to answer his questions.
You bet they have something to hide.
Just this week, Wexford People reported from the British Isles:
It is known that some had been sold at a greyhound auction in Limerick, and were on the way to a new life in Spain, to be used in the hunting and racing industry. Some commentators have argued that the dogs were lucky that they didn't reach Spain: hunting dogs are not treated well there, with many being brutally killed at the end of the season by being hung from trees.
The greyhounds on the ferry died inside the van that they were travelling in: their presence had not been declared to the ferry officials, and reportedly they had been crammed into cages at twice the recommended density, with two dogs per cage, rather than one. Transport of dogs in this manner is illegal, violating European regulations on the protection of animals during transport as well as the Greyhound Welfare Act 2011. The Spanish van driver was held for questioning, but was later released. Reports suggest that he will not be prosecuted, but that his transport licence has been revoked: this is considered "punishment enough".
The greyhounds that died are symptomatic of a major problem in the Irish greyhound industry: over-production of under-performing dogs. The resulting low monetary value of unwanted greyhounds leads to the cost-cutting methods of the type used by the transporter.
There are other consequences of the low value of unwanted greyhounds. Uncaring owners sometimes just want to get rid of their dogs. Rather than going to the effort of rehoming the animals responsibly, or even paying the vet to euthanase them humanely, some people try to illegally kill the animals themselves. There have been instances of dogs being shot, beaten to death with blunt objects or drowned. One man was fined €800 in 2013 after six greyhounds were found shot to death in a quarry: apart from the fine, he received no formal sanction from the greyhound industry, and he is now back racing greyhounds as if nothing had happened.
All litters of greyhound puppies are recorded and all pups that breeders want to keep have their ears tattooed by ten weeks of age. Yet despite this tattoo identification system, many greyhounds disappear from the records every year.
Around 17000-20000 pups are born annually, with around 5000 new greyhounds being subsequently used for racing in Ireland, and over 5000 being exported to race in the UK. This leaves up to 10000 greyhounds unaccounted for: nobody knows what happens to them. If they die, and their bodies are found, their ear tattoos can be used to identify their owners. But if their bodies are hidden, or even if their ears are just cut off (as sometimes happens), nobody discovers what happened.
The lack of information about "disappeared" greyhounds contrasts with the tight control of cattle: there are over six million bulls, cows and calves in Ireland: every single one of those is accounted for from birth to death.
Although the industry's governing body, the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB), requires owners to register retirements and provide information on the fate of each dog, they are not obliged to provide any supporting evidence that a new home has been found. Some unwanted dogs are known to be returned to Ireland, where the majority were originally bred.
A report to be published this week reveals that some unwanted greyhounds were sold to a university which slaughtered them and used them to teach anatomy to veterinary students.
University College Dublin admitted buying 33 dogs last year, the report by the LACS and GREY2K USA, an American greyhound protection organisation.
In New Zealand The Greyhound Protection League says it believes nearly 1300 dogs go missing every year. Many believe the number is far too low. Aaron Cross, spokesperson for the GPL says in TE Waha Nui,,
I think we are actually looking at a greater number. At one point we were giving the industry the benefit of the doubt when they took a dog out of racing for breeding.
We were writing these off as a successful re-homing. But now we are unsure about this. We think about 1295 dogs go missing every year.
We need to know how many dogs are being killed, where they are being killed and why they are being killed.
We also need independent oversight so that there is actually a body responsible for animal welfare who will take a stick to the industry when necessary.
There are many ways for these dogs to disappear, to go to tracks that might be outside the country, in Mexico for example," where the dogs might be run harder and get less adequate care...
He is right to be concerned. As USA tracks decline, racing is growing all over the world. Many countries are getting their dogs from U.S. breeders and tracks.
Darren Rigg with Greyhound Adoption Center is very worried what will happen to greyhounds as more and more tracks close. He fears there will be major dog dumps for a decade or more to come. He told Offtrack Greyhound,
We're talking thousands and thousands of greyhounds. All needing homes all at once. When the Florida tracks close, which is rumored to be soon, greyhound-rescue groups and shelters will be inundated.
Riggs like many others involved in rescuing racing greyhounds knows that while track kennel operators often say they will hold onto the dogs until someone rescues them, that does not really happen very often. As Offtrack Greyhound writes:
What happens is the dogs disappear. In the greyhound racing world, a few dollars a day per dog is just too high a price for a breeder or kennel operator to pay. If rescue groups or sympathetic trainers don't get the dogs out quickly, it's too late.
I don't really have a particular article to go with all this, so I will just leave you with this from the Miami Herald. I would also suggest you check out the website of GREY2KUSA here.
DOG KILLING GOES ON AS FLORIDA LOOKS THE OTHER WAY