Academic Argument

Savannah Russell
Writing 11th grade
October 2, 2012
Personal Academic Argument

The Truth Behind Greyhound Racing

On the beautiful morning of August 12, 2009, in La Marque, Texas, you and your friend attend a race at Gulf Greyhound Park.  Unaware of what greyhound racing truly is, you begin to fill with excitement as the crowd cheers and everyone places bets on the best dogs. You anticipate the start of the race with excitement. Suddenly, the gates open, and all of the dogs race out onto the track at lightning speed.  You simply can’t believe how fast the dogs are running; the sense of danger builds up inside you as they fly around the first corner where two dogs almost fall.  You think, maybe the dogs are running at dangerous speeds?  Then, right in front of your seat, a one-year-old black greyhound named Bob’s Brian runs right into a pole, fractures his skull, and dies.  The audience doesn’t even seem to notice; the race continues and the young, helpless greyhound lies dead on the track.  You begin to recognize greyhound racing’s true identity; it’s cruel and inhumane. Greyhound racing proves to be a dangerous sport for greyhounds, it causes thousands of injuries and deaths each year, and it needs to be eradicated.

Sadly, the above story  is a true account of an accident at a greyhound race. According to Grey2kUSA, this is not uncommon at greyhound races, and the dogs are always dying or getting injured in races (Grey2kusa).   One injury report on Grey2kUSA’s website, (out of the thousands made yearly) describes in detail the story of a young greyhound fracturing his skull and dying instantly on the track stating:  “his brains fell out on the track” (Grey2kUSA).   In my opinion, this report was made as if the owner thought it was funny and didn’t care that his very own dog had just died an extremely tragic death. Dog racing is cruel, and it desperately needs to be stopped.   It is inhumane, and there is nothing positive about it.  Sure, people may win money on bets, but that isn’t a good reason to put these dogs through this type of abuse. Greyhounds are treated terribly during their racing careers, and they have little, if any, companionship with humans or other dogs.  They live their lives in solitary confinement inside cages barely big enough to lie down and too tiny to provide the space needed for a dog their size.   No dog should be forced to be in a cage their whole life; dogs were born to be free and wild.   A photo on Grey2kUSA’s website shows dog cages that are filled with large shreds of what appears to be paper.  They don’t even have anything soft and comfortable underneath them to rest their overworked bodies.  According to racing industries, the only time these dogs are let out of their cages is when they have a short “play break’’ (in a small area where they probably do not really play) or when they are going to race (Racing Industry). The American Humane Society states that the greyhounds live in cages that have no climate control which can place a ton of stress on the dogs, especially in the frigid winter months (Humane Society).

I could never bear to see a helpless dog sentenced to a life of confinement in such inhumane conditions.   No dog deserves this kind of treatment.  It is as though  the greyhounds’ owners only see the dogs as money-making “toys” for lack of a better word.  They do not care about the condition of their dogs because most of the owners do not even consider them a pet, let alone the living, breathing, innocent creature that they truly are.  The greyhounds are not provided proper medical care, and if they receive any treatment at all, it is the cheapest treatment available. If a dog becomes injured, they usually go with the cheapest treatment for their injury which is usually the worst treatment a dog could receive for an injury- euthanasia. Although in some extreme cases, like when a dog falls and becomes paralyzed or suffers major injuries, euthanizing the dog is the most humane option.   In my opinion, euthanasia is not an option for something as curable as a broken leg or torn muscle because over time these can be easily fixed.   If my dog ever suffered an injury for any reason (which would never include racing…I would never put my dog through such a cruel sport.), I would look for the best treatment available and seek advice from a trusted veterinary.   I love my dogs dearly, and could never let them be euthanized over a broken bone.

As if all this wasn’t cruel enough, the food and transportation these poor dogs receive is, yet again, the most inexpensive method the owners can find.   It doesn’t matter if the meat they buy for the dogs is diseased.   In their eyes, this is an adequate meal; however, feeding a dog such a low-quality food can be fatal (Humane Society).  During transportation, racing dogs can die from exhaustion,  dehydration, and starvation due to the poor traveling conditions and long trips (Grey2kUSA).  Heat can also play a major role in the dangers of transportation used for racing dogs.  Racing dogs as well as other dogs such as family pets  have been killed while being locked inside a car on a hot day.  I can’t think of any logical reason as to why someone would do such things.

Even rabbits remain in the path of greyhound racing’s cruelty.   Live rabbits are the most common animals used for training dogs to chase after the mechanical lure. The rabbits are released in a confined area, so the rabbit can’t escape, and the dog is chasing after it at full speed.   It is not the dog’s fault, however; it is the careless owners who believe by using a dog’s instincts to chase the rabbit, the dog is making himself better at racing.  Many do not agree with this, and I certainly don’t either. These rabbits will unknowingly be led into death by the trainer who brings them inside a fenced area to be chased, tortured, and eventually killed by the greyhound who is just following his instincts (Grey2kUSA).

As for the tracks dogs race on, they are filled to the brim with danger. Everything from the automatic lures to the dirt itself serve as a threat to the dogs.  I have watched several videos capturing the horrific falls these dogs take during races.   There are hundreds of greyhound racing accident videos on Youtube.com alone!  The tracks can easily become slippery, and at the fast pace these dogs run, they can slip and become injured.   Some dogs loose control of the direction of which they run, and often run into the automatic lure, rails, or walls of the track. Greyhounds are forced to race in all conditions, even the hottest and coldest days. When a dog gets injured during a race, nobody rushes out to save him or her, they must wait until the race is over to receive any help.   They are forced to lie there, injured in the dirt, painfully waiting for someone’s help.

In Greyhound racing, the dogs must be very agile and quick.  They must win the race. Unfortunately, most people are unaware of the fact that fast racing dogs are not easily found.  The racing industry goes through thousands of dogs annually just to get dogs that are fast enough to race.  “Every year, the industry breeds tens of thousands of greyhounds, more than it can place at racetracks.  This over-breeding is motivated by the desire to produce “winning” dogs.   Thousands of greyhounds at each track are disposed of yearly to bring in a “fresh” group of dogs.   A dog’s racing career is usually over at 3½ to 4 years of age,” writes the Humane Society of the United States.   The industry doesn’t even “dispose” of the dogs in a humane manner. Normally, these unwanted dogs that do not fit the criteria of a fast dog, are brought to what I would call a slaughterhouse.  The dogs are usually shot, and for around $10 a piece (Humane Society).  People will shoot the dogs without thinking how sad this truly is.   The Humane Society of the United States also writes this heart-wrenching fact,  “Unfortunately, the industry kills greyhounds at various stages in the dogs’ lives because they appear to lack racing potential or are injured. Many dogs, when they are no longer profitable, are adopted into good homes through rescue groups, but thousands are not. As with any business, profit is the bottom line; as a result, greyhounds are often destroyed using the least expensive methods, including gunshot. Reports of bludgeoning, abandonment, and starvation have also surfaced.”   The Humane Society goes on to say: “Unfortunately, thousands of “retired” greyhounds are not adopted each year. Many greyhound owners use adoption programs as dumping grounds when their dogs are no longer profitable. Although The Humane Society of the United States applauds the efforts of those volunteers who give their time and money to place unwanted greyhounds in loving homes, thousands of these dogs are still destroyed each year because there are not enough homes to accept them.   In 2000, an estimated 19,000 greyhounds were killed. * This includes 7,600 greyhound puppies who were farm culls, and another 11,400 “retirees” who were not rescued. 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 with appalling track conditions.” (HumaneSociety.org) To those who disagree that dog racing is cruel, I hope you will open your eyes and see the reality these dogs are forced to live.   The dogs are faced with two options- be a fast dog or die.  Nature and genetics determine how fast they will be, and based upon the dogs’ speed, irresponsible humans will decide the fate of these dogs, and both options result in sudden death if the greyhounds are not rescued. It is almost certain a racing dog will be killed or terribly injured due to racing, and a dog brought in the industry that isn’t fast enough is immediately killed, most likely with a bullet through his head. There are countless ways you can help end the cruelty of dog racing.  You can adopt, foster, or sponsor a greyhound or make a donation to a greyhound rescue. Thankfully, there are many greyhound rescues out there, and you can find them simply by conducting a Google search for greyhound rescues in your area.  Rescues say that greyhounds long for a loving home and look forward to meeting people even after living a racing life.  These dogs are loyal and forgiving.  When you foster or adopt a greyhound you save two lives; the life of the greyhound you are adopting/fostering, and the life of the greyhound that will be taking his or her spot at the rescue organization.  These sleek, beautiful dogs need to be helped. Even if you simply speak out for them and educated other, it  will make a difference in the greyhound industry.

Although I have never actually been to a greyhound race (and never will), I have seen what happens to most of the mistreated and/or abused dogs.  It honestly breaks my heart when I visit shelters, and when I see the suffering dogs go through. It makes me want to help these voiceless animals in any way I possibly can.  I always knew greyhound racing was inhumane, but I never exactly knew to what extent.   After visiting many rescue sites (I recommend visiting grey2kusa.org) and watching YouTube videos of racing accidents, I have witnessed and read the truth about greyhound racing, and someday I hope it comes to an end. These dogs definitely do not deserve the treatment they receive, and the little money the dog might bring is not even worth risking the dog’s life for.  Please help take a stand for the dogs. They cannot speak for themselves, therefore, they need the help of the caring people all over the world to speak for them.  By raising  awareness about the cruelty of dog racing, rescuing/adopting a greyhound, donating to a rescue, or volunteering at a local rescue, you can help put an end to greyhound racing.   Hopefully someday everyone will see the truth behind dog racing: it is cruel, dangerous, and a money-making business at the expense of helpless, innocent greyhounds.  One day, hopefully, it will be eradicated!  But until then, we must continue to fight for their rights.

*As reported by Greyhound Network News and the Greyhound Protection League (asterisk refers to a quote from the Humane Society of the United States located in an above paragraph.)

Photo of greyhounds who were “discarded” when they were no longer profitable. This could be due to an injury, age, or not being fast enough.

Photo:  Aklan Animal Rescue and Rehabilitation Center (http://animals.tukcedo.nl/?p=328)

 

Greyhound cages. This is where the racing dogs live during their careers.

Photo from Greyhound Protection Act, New Hampshire Legislation(http://www.all-creatures.org/alert/alert-20090202.htm)

 

 

Horrific action shot of three greyhounds falling during a race.

Photo from Australian Racing Greyhound (australianracinggreyhound.com)

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