Greyhound racing isnít a sport. Itís exploitation. While many states have made progress,†Texas is still holding on to†greyhound cruelty. The public has until July 27, 2014 to help Texasí racing greyhounds before its too late.
Historic Racing Isnít an Evolution
The†ASPCA has issued an alert asking Texas to reject a new proposal aiming to authorize historic racing, also known as instant racing.
Racino (a racetrack/casino hybrid) investors are doing everything they can to keep the dying industry alive. Itís going to take other types of gambling, like the historic racing proposal, to keep the industry afloat.
Historic racing involves introducing machines that resemble slots to race tracks. Instead of colorfully animated slot characters, these machines will replay recorded greyhound (or horse) races that users can bet on. The horses would be anonymous; there wouldnít be any identifying clues about of the horsesí names, location information or dates.
As reported in the†Star-Telegram, there are two sides to the proposal that have nothing to do with greyhound dogsí welfare. Opponents of instant racing say itís nothing more than adding slot machines to race tracks, and, essentially, corrupting the industry. Supporters say Racinos need instant racing to give it a competitive edge; slot machines sell and bring in more people and more money. Supporters believe that historic racing is just the new look of wagering.
Unfortunately, while wagering is evolving, instant racing will feed millions of dollars to the struggling racing industry and be a huge step back for greyhounds.
Lose-Lose Cruelty for Greyhounds
Here are a few of the ways that greyhounds lost, according to†Animal Law, with the birth of modern greyhound racing.
Medical Neglect: Greyhounds stopped being dogs and became commodities. Itís not uncommon to find starving and dehydrated dogs living in poor conditions. Animal Law cites the story in Florida where 194 greyhounds were discovered living in their own waste.
Deadly Travel: Usually, greyhounds have to travel long distances to compete since greyhound racing is only legal in†Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, Texas and West Virginia. In 95 degree weather, 31 dogs traveled 58 hours in 12 small crates with no air-conditioning.
Litter Culling: Itís not uncommon for breeders and trainers to kill the puppies that donít have the potential to perform well. During one decade, there are estimates that 85,000 puppies, sometimes as young as three months, have been killed.
Fatal Tracks: Ironically, greyhounds are often confined in tiny enclosures with little to no exercise. Some dogs have overexerted themselves on the track because of their poor muscle tone. Some injuries are beyond repair and euthanasia is the only option. There have also been cases of dogs trampling others to death and being electrocuted from the rail.
Ruthless Retirement: While a healthy greyhound can live to be 15 years old, most racing greyhounds retire, and often die, between three and five. Humane euthanization isnít usually the way they go. Many dogs are abandoned, shot, clubbed, sold to other countries, electrocuted or starved to death. Other dogs have been donated to American universities, like Iowa State University and Colorado State University, to act as test subjects for research purposes.
In 2002, authorities discovered that breeders and trainers had been giving their unwanted dogs to Robert Rhodes. For 40 years, Rhodes had been paid $10 for each dog he shot. Authorities found the remains of 3,000 greyhounds.
Good News for Greyhounds
Greyhound tracks that used to seat thousands are down to dozens.†Bets that reached $1 billion were down to $258 million in 2013.
In Iowa,†KMAland reports that greyhound racing is in its final months. A billís been passed to close the Dubuque track. The dogs will be in the hands of the Iowa Greyhound Association, and a retirement fund is being launched for breeders, trainers and owners who want out of the business.
Help Texasí Racing Greyhounds
Texas isnít making the same progress as Iowa. Gulf Greyhound Park, the last operating track in Texas, is looking to fund greyhound cruelty through the introduction of instant racing. A prerecorded machine canít capture the litter cullings, the cruelty, the death tramples, the electrocution and the disposal of these sweet dogs.
The Texas Racing Commission is letting the public weigh in until July 27, 2014. Make your voice heard before then by using†this ASPCA contact form asking the Commission to reject this proposal. You can also mail, call and email them†here.
Letís send a message to the horse racing industry (that is watching how this all plays out), and letís do this for the 2,080 injured and 86 killed dogs at Gulf Greyhound Park.
Photo Credit: Liz West