We support Limerick Animal Welfare and the team’s greyhound rescue work. They are generally inundated with greyhounds, surplus to requirements and home many in the US and Italy. Pet Levrieri places the greyhounds in super family homes in which they are treated like kings. Pet Levrieri transports them to Italy from Ireland. Limerick Animal Welfare prepares the dogs and their passports in readiness. Greyhound Compassion’s funds goes towards food, vets’ bills and preparing the paperwork for these lucky greyhounds to go to their forever homes in Italy.
Valerie was found straying in Limerick in November last year. She has an ear tattoo and having researched it, we know she was born on 22 November 2014 but has never been named and there is no record of where she has been since she was born.
Now called Valerie, she was found in a filthy state and covered in fleas. Limerick Animal Welfare took her in and has rehabilitated her with veterinary skill and loving care. She will be homed as soon as the right home is found for her.
Do you remember poor Zeuss from our October Ezine? The poor greyhound who suffered third degree burns when the kennel owner tried to kill snails in Zeuss’ kennel? Zeuss was the collateral damage. Thanks to Limerick Animal Welfare’s vet and your donations, Zeuss made a good recovery and is living in the lap of luxury in Italy. He is so comfortable and that glint in his eyes reveals who is in charge now…
We have continued to support Dungarvan Rescue, the one-woman band, working hard to rehabilitate rescued greyhounds, lurchers (and German Shepherds) and actively speaking out about the greyhound wastage in the racing industry in Ireland.
Last year Mary at Dungarvan Rescue rescued 10 greyhounds, saved along with 130 others from squalor and neglect at a greyhound racing kennel. We were able to provide a financial contribution to their restore their well-being. Generally they had been well fed but covered in parasites and needed intensive rehabilitation. Mary took 10 to her shelter and other rescue organisations accommodated the other 130. All of the Dungarvan 10 are now in homes in the United Kingdom, thanks to Mary’s UK contacts. In Mary’s words “this was a situation gone bad” and the Irish Greyhound Board (the racing regulatory body in Ireland) had allegedly known about the problem for 2 years leading up to the rescue. We are pleased the dogs are safe and sound thanks to Mary and fellow rescuers. As soon as we have photos of them in the comfort of their homes, we’ll post them.
Greyhound Compassion condemns the 2017 statistics published by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain on 14 March 2018 on its own website. The statistics fail to disclose the total number of greyhounds racing on the UK tracks making the total data context difficult to analyse. The statistics reveal there were 257 “track fatalities” in 2017. This equates to 5 greyhounds per week dying on British racetracks – one too many per day in a working week. The GBGB euthanasia figures show 1,013 greyhounds having been put to sleep or suffering “sudden” or “natural” death. Of these, at least 67% of the deaths lack detailed explanation or were because “no home found” or treatment costs were deemed too expensive. The bookmakers’ net profit in 2014 (latest data GC has identified) was £237m from greyhound racing. Hard to believe a multi-million pound industry found treatment costs too expensive for its staple commodity.
At the same time as publishing the 2017 statistics, the GBGB launched “The Greyhound Commitment”, setting out a series of promises and initiatives, including an intention that every greyhound that can be homed when it retires is successfully homed. This is quite a revelation because over the years racing enthusiasts have been adamant that there has not been a problem and if the owners and trainers have not taken the dogs into their own homes, charity home finders have been homing the surplus greyhounds. Now “The Greyhound Commitment” contradicts this. In addition, the funding behind “The Greyhound Commitment” does not yet appear to be firmly in place.
In response to the published statistics, the EFRA Committee called for a statutory levy to be placed on bookmakers (including online bookmakers) profiting from greyhound racing in the UK in a letter from the Committee’s Chair, Neil Parish MP, to Tracey Crouch MP, Parliamentary Under Secretary of State for Sport and Civil Society, Department for Digital, Culture, Media and Sport.
The EFRA Committee welcomed the publication of the figures and the greater transparency they provide, but also called for further efforts to reduce the number of dogs euthanised due to financial considerations. Neil Parish MP, Chair of the Environment, Food and Rural Affairs Committee, said:
“Greyhound racing should be subject to the same high standards that we expect of any sport involving animals. If greyhound racing is to thrive in the UK, it must prioritise animal welfare over financial gain. Bookmakers make huge profits on greyhound racing and they have a responsibility to support greyhound welfare whether they trade from the High Street or trade online. We remain resolute in our belief that a statutory levy on bookmakers is essential to protect the welfare of racing dogs in the UK.”
“We welcome the figures published today by GBGB, showing a commitment to greater transparency about the destination of retired racers. However, we are concerned that 355 dogs were put to sleep last year because no suitable home could be found or because of the high cost of medical treatment. The welfare of racing dogs should be paramount and every effort should be made to reduce the number of dogs being put to sleep for economic reasons.”
Also noteworthy is that the statistics and “The Greyhound Commitment” exclude the greyhounds racing on the independent (“flapping”) tracks. The existence of parallel systems (GBGB licensed in addition to the flapping tracks) was of concern to the EFRA Committee in its 2015 review.
The League Against Cruel Sports provided valuable commentary on the GBGB’s 2017 statistics and, rightly so, repeated its call for a ban on greyhound racing : “….It is time greyhound racing was consigned to the ranks of cruel sports which are no longer acceptable…..injuries are not an unavoidable risk – they are an inevitable consequence of an industry based on dogs’ suffering.”
And all of this for the first time since greyhound racing started in the UK in…..1926.
You might recall from our 2016 and 2017 newsletters that Greyhound Compassion has been closely monitoring developments around the review of the Welfare of Racing Greyhound Regulations (2010) during which the EFRA Select Committee and DEFRA committed to holding the greyhound racing industry’s feet to the fire.
One of the key EFRA recommendations in its report of 2016 from its review in 2015 was that welfare data relating to injury, euthanasia and rehoming numbers be recorded and published. The EFRA Select Committee found that the lack of publicly available data made it difficult to judge the level of welfare provision. The Welfare of Racing Greyhound Regulations (2010) required greyhound tracks to record the injury, euthanasia data and stats about greyhounds leaving the industry as part of the local authority licensing regime and the UKAS regime run by the GBGB but the data were never actually collated centrally by the GBGB. In 2016 DEFRA secured the GBGB’s commitment to publish the statistics with a full set of data to be ready by the end of 2017.
Parliamentary questions posed by Jim Fitzpatrick MP in December 2017 reveal that the Government (DEFRA) expects the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) to begin publishing annual aggregate injury and euthanasia statistics for GBGB tracks and annual summary statistics for the number of registered greyhounds leaving the industry. The figures will cover the preceding calendar year and, for greyhounds leaving the industry, the data will include by what method. GBGB is expected to begin publishing both sets of data by the end of March 2018. Access to anonymised track injury and euthanasia data will be considered by the GBGB’s Welfare Standing Committee and DEFRA for bona fide research purposes. We are not clear about what “bona fide research purposes” means and are trying to find out. Nor do we know how DEFRA intends to handle data related to the independent tracks. Likewise, we are enquiring about the plan for these tracks outside of GBGB control.
DEFRA has been clear that if necessary it will regulate the industry because it is important, in George Eustice’s (DEFRA) own words: “to keep the GBGB’s feet to the fire and to make it understand the stakes”.
Chinese New Year takes place on a different date each year because it is based on the lunar calendar. 2018 is the Year of the Dog and it will be celebrated on 16 Feb, giving the GBGB about 6 weeks to finalise its data sets. We are waiting.
Thank you very much for your support for Greyhound Compassion during 2017. With your help, we have managed to make our funds stretch a long way to help a number of greyhounds and galgos. We were pleased to be able to fund CCTV for the rescue kennels in Lincolnshire as well as veterinary and food bills. Thank you also to those who donate bedding, food and soft toys which we deliver with pleasure from time to time. We contributed to Mary’s expenses to save the “Dungarvan 10” greyhounds rescued from squalor along with 140 others. Good to know that prosecutions may follow in that case. Then there was poor, poor Zeuss who suffered 3rd degree burns after having boiling water poured on him by his kennel owner. Thanks to Limerick Animal Welfare’s vet, Zeuss made a good recovery. At Scooby we funded the division of the last-remaining large enclosure and the French support group installed brand new kennels in the newly created plots. This means the galgos can live in smaller groups in secure enclosures. Our Year in Review is shown below so that you can see in more detail how we’ve spent our finances. 96.25p of every £1 we raise goes directly to a galgo or greyhound. Please contact us if you would like our full annual report for 2017.
Thank you to our supporters who fund-raise in aid of Greyhound Compassion by running sales stalls, raffles and tombolas as well as holding sponsored and social events, selling via Ebay and car boots, joining us on flag days and helping at jumble sales. This means we can always keep a small fund in case of emergency and it happened last week! Dawn from Greyhound Rescue in Lincolnshire telephoned to tell us that the boiler for the kennels had broken beyond repair, just what you don’t need at the end of November. Dawn thought it would cost £2k to replace. Greyhound Compassion could immediately offer the money. However, the final best estimate put the cost at £4k. Greyhound Compassion couldn’t afford the full amount but we honoured our £2k commitment. The greyhounds are now toasty in their beds.
In fact, Sheila Shotter is holding one such stall this weekend @GuestwickChristmasMarket. She is kindly selling her handmade Seasonal crafts in aid of Greyhound Compassion. Thank you very much to Sheila.
Elaine, Jane and Jayne sponsored and manned the Greyhound Compassion stall at the SW Animal Aid Christmas without Cruelty Festival. Very grateful to them for spreading the word about the plight of the greyhounds.
Next year Scooby has asked Greyhound Compassion to help raise money for the salary for the on-site vet. This is a position beset with challenge. It is a demanding job and relentless. It has been difficult to find suitably qualified vets to give the shelter the medical support it deserves. We are hoping to step up our grant funding applications in aid of this particular need. On top of this the fencing at the shelter is in need of repair. This is about 1km of fencing which needs renewing. Look out for the “buy 1m” of fencing campaign!
Next year is an important year for racing greyhounds. 2018 is the year the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) is to begin publishing annual figures for the number of greyhounds injured and euthanised at GBGB tracks and the number of dogs that leave GBGB racing, including an explanation of what “leave” means.
Greyhound Compassion was pleased to be invited to a meeting with Greyt Exploitations and the League Against Cruel Sports in November 2017. It was The League that rightfully came to the view in 2016 that after several attempts to reform itself, the industry should be actively phased out leading to a complete ban on greyhound racing across the UK. Our meeting with Greyt Exploitations and The League in November was positive and we hope we can collaborate for the benefit of the greyhounds.
Greyhound Compassion’s Autumn digital newsletter launched this week (our first ever!). Please let us know if you have not received it or if you would like to sign up to receive it. Once you have read it, please let us know your thoughts. All feedback gratefully received. email@example.com
We visited Greyhound Rescue in Lincolnshire last weekend. We were there to help with an event they had to promote the shelter in a nearby town on Saturday. They have about 30 greyhounds in residence at the moment. Kimmy was retired at the age of 2 and is now in kennels waiting for her new, loving home. I fell in love with Bullseye who is so lovable and affectionate, looking for his home. Sadly we don’t have any space in our own greyhound family. He is so soft and loving, it’s easy to imagine him on a sofa but really hard to contemplate how he coped with the hard knocks and rigid, metallic discomfort (traps, vans, tracks, kennels etc.) of racing. These poor dogs just don’t seem to be built for exploitation like racing. If you are able to offer Bullseye a home, please contact us or Greyhound Rescue. We were lucky enough to see Treacle skip off to her new home being carried away in comfort to the family in the outskirts of Manchester, which was a pleasure.
As for Protectora y Santuario Scooby, up to the end of August 309 puppies have come into rescue from the streets. That’s 300 extra dogs Scooby has saved, rehabilitated, fed and the vet has seen. In fact as at the end of August, this was 49% of all of the dogs Scooby had rescued. This is a big challenge when Scooby has to work so hard to find homes all of the other adult dogs. Scooby campaigns for neutering and identification of dogs. In fact, Repsol, the national petrol station chain, recently held a public awareness event asking the public not to abandon dogs at Repsol petrol stations. Repsol invited Scooby and some of the rescues to the event in Madrid. We’re hoping there is potential for future collaboration.
The other big challenge for Scooby this year has been the need for a new vet. Incredibly all of the unemployed and well-qualified vets from the Province came to England to work in practice before Brexit takes place so that they can boost their experience and earnings while they can still move freely in Europe. This meant Scooby had to look much further afield for a vet and it took a long, long time. We have a vet on-site now but until this point Scooby has had to use vets in the local town. We’re hoping this is more stable now but we’ll have to wait and see how the new vet gets on. It’s a big job and the work is relentless.
Looking to the latter part of the year, we’ll have the next APDAWG (the All-Party Dog Welfare Group) meeting. There has been a real lull in Parliamentary activities for dog welfare since the General Election and given the time the Brexit negotiations have consumed. It will be interesting to see what is on their agenda and how we can encourage them to turn their attention to the greyhound welfare issues. This is not going to be easy given that DEFRA has concluded that the Greyhound Racing Welfare Regulations fulfil their purpose within the eyes of the legislation.
Belushi, the cheeky chap rescued from the streets, has passed away having suffered kidney failure. Belushi was a long-term Scooby resident who was part of our Sponsor A Hound scheme. Like so many strays in the Medina del Campo area Belushi was a galgo mix: The result of dumped galgos breeding freely with other abandoned dogs, living their early years as a stray before finding a safe haven at Scooby. Poor Belushi had been overlooked by potential homes possibly because he was black. The black galgos are always, for some strange reason, less popular. We’re so sad to have lost him at a relatively young age in the prime of his cheekiness.
Belushi’s place will be taken by Neron. Neron is a stunning and regal chap but suffering sadly with Leischmania. Neron was rescued from the streets, having been exploited for one hare coursing season. He will now live out his days with the Scooby shelter manager where he’ll receive full home comforts and his regular medication. Neron is particularly fond of the garden and inspecting the vegetable patch and flowerbeds before reclining in his armchair for his daily siesta.
If you would like to sponsor a Greyhound Compassion hound for yourself or as a gift, please check out Neron, Rocio, Freya, Pandora and Apollo and their stories.
Limerick Animal Welfare has rescued a greyhound from the most barbaric cruelty. He had suffered third degree burns from boiling water. (We have posted the least worst pictures below because the injury is so gruesome). The kennel owner said that they were throwing boiling water in the kennels to kill snails and the greyhound got burned by accident. Unfortunately the kennel owner did not act immediately and did not provide any emergency treatment for the unfortunate greyhound. The wound is now infected but the greyhound is in the care of Limerick Animal Welfare’s vet and his receiving pain relief and intensive medical care. He has had a comfortable couple of nights in a fresh bed. The wound is being cleaned and the dressings are being changed every day. He will be in the veterinary clinic for at least 10 days. It is going to take more than a month of bandaging and treatment to get him well. LAW’s vet loves the hounds and is taking great care of him.
This news came at a time when Greyhound Compassion’s account could afford to contribute to the poor greyhound’s costs. We have transferred a donation to LAW and hopefully this will cover the costs to get the greyhound to full recovery. We are grateful to our small fund-raising team of volunteers and donors for making this possible.
Let’s hope and pray that we are soon posting pictures of him wagging his tail or reclining on a sofa in a loving home.
Commercial greyhound racing exists in eight countries at nearly 150 tracks worldwide. First invented in the United States, commercial racing is typically characterized by a regulating authority, state-sanctioned gambling, an industrialized breeding apparatus, a greyhound tattoo identification system, organized kennel operations, and a network of racetracks.
Dog racing is currently legal in the United States, Australia, China (in the Special Administrative Region of Macau), Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and Vietnam.Even within these jurisdictions, commercial racing has been outlawed in many states, most recently Arizona in the USA.
Greyhound racing is cruel and inhumane
Each year, the greyhound industry worldwide breeds at least 8,000 greyhound litters for the sole purpose of gambling.This amounts to a minimum of 48,000 greyhound pups per year, including the thousands who never get named and are omitted from industry record keeping.
Though not every jurisdiction functions identically, racing greyhounds are subject to practices that are cruel and inhumane: lives of confinement, serious racing injuries, and the threat of “culling” at every stage of life.
Tens of thousands of dogs are bred for this cruel industry
The majority of racing greyhounds are bred in Ireland, Australia, and the United States, respectively. Each jurisdiction breeds thousands of greyhounds per year and supplies secondary jurisdictions with thousands of dogs as well.
Ireland reported 2,736 litters in 2013. Using the conservative estimate of six pups per litter, the industry bred approximately 16,416 greyhounds that year. In 2013, 15,576 were registered to race, both for commercial racing and hare coursing.Of these, 9,373 greyhounds remained in Ireland, and 6,203 were exported to race in the United Kingdom. Additionally, older racing greyhounds have been known to be exported to Argentina, Macau, Pakistan, and Spain — all countries where dogs are routinely killed and discarded.
Australia reported 3,006 litters in 2015. Using the conservative estimate of six pups per litter, the industry bred approximately 18,036 greyhounds that year. In 2015, only 11,732 were registered to race, a discrepancy of 6,304 dogs. Australia regularly exports greyhounds to New Zealand, having exported 813 greyhounds between 2009 and 2012. In addition, it is estimated that since 2011, Australian trainers have also exported over 1,700 dogs to mainland China, Macau, and Vietnam, jurisdictions with no animal welfare laws in place.
The United States reported 1,870 litters in 2015. Again using the conservative estimate of six pups per litter, the industry bred approximately 11,220 greyhounds in that year. In 2015, 10,422 were registered to race. The US exports both young and old dogs to Mexico, where they race at the Agua Caliente race track, often every other day, an unusually high rate by industry averages.
Greyhounds endure lives of confinement
The vast majority of commercial racing greyhounds endure lives of terrible confinement. Dogs live in warehouse-style kennels, side by side, and in jurisdictions like the US, in stacked cages. They are confined for long hours each day with bedding that ranges from carpeting and shredded newspaper to burlap sacks.
Greyhounds are “turned out” two to five times per day, depending on the jurisdiction. At the Canidrome in Macau, dogs are let out twice a day to relieve themselves but stay in their cages for upwards of twenty-three hours a day. In the United States, dogs are confined for twenty hours or more with intermittent turn outs and races about once every four days.
Kennels vary widely across jurisdictions. In Macau, the greyhound kennel compounds are fifty-year-old sparse concrete structures with metal bars or fencing to contain the dogs, two-thirds of which “would fail to meet the minimum size for a racing kennel in Australia.” In the US, there are the two standard cage sizes, 49”-36”-35” and 43”-30”-32”. The latter is barely large enough for some greyhounds to stand up or turn around.
Greyhounds suffer serious injuries while racing
At dog tracks worldwide, greyhounds routinely suffer serious injuries. However, only a few jurisdictions regularly publish injury data. The racing commissions of the American states of Arkansas, Iowa, Texas, and West Virginia produce injury data subject to public request, and the Australian state of New South Wales started publishing injury data in late 2015. Reported injuries include broken legs, crushed skulls, seizures, paralysis, broken backs, and death by electrocution.
In the United States, more than 14,000 injuries were reported from January 2008 to December 2016. Of these injuries, over 1,000 resulted in death. It is important to note that Florida, home to two-thirds of American tracks, does not require injury reporting.
In Australia, only one state racing body, New South Wales, publishes injury records. These cite a total of 2,287 documented injuries from January to December 2016, 202 of which resulted in death.
Aggregate injury reporting does appear in official inquiries from time to time. The Australian state of Tasmania commissioned a report from the industry entitled “Review of Arrangements for Animal Welfare in the Tasmanian Greyhound Racing Industry.” In it, the authors state that “[Tasmanian] stewards notified 274 injuries, 14 euthanised” from January 1, 2014 to December 31, 2014.
Ireland, Macau, Mexico, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, Vietnam, seven of eight states and territories in Australia, and the US states of Alabama and Florida do not publish injury data. In the UK, the Greyhound Board of Great Britain once pledged to release public greyhound injury statistics in 2017, but this was later postponed to 2018.
Death is a common fate for greyhounds
Death is an all-too-common fate for racing greyhounds. Dogs that aren’t fast enough or have sustained a severe injury are removed from the racing pool. At best, this situation can result in physical rehabilitation and adoption, but far too often owners and trainers turn to euthanasia and even unsanctioned killings as a cheap alternative.
In Australia, an internal industry memo from Greyhounds Australasia CEO Scott Parker stated that as many as 17,000 healthy greyhounds are killed each year.
In New South Wales, Australia, a 2016 Parliamentary investigation into the greyhound industry revealed evidence that suggests as many as 68,448 greyhounds had been killed over a twelve-year period because “they were considered too slow to pay their way or were unsuitable for racing.” A few days after this analysis was released, a greyhound mass grave was discovered at the Keinbah Trial Track near Cessnock. Almost 100 greyhounds had been killed there “with a blow to the head, from either a gunshot or a blunt instrument.”
In Victoria, Australia, the racing body released its Annual Report for 2015-2016 which revealed that 3,012 greyhounds had been euthanized during the year. Greyhound Racing Victoria also indicated that an even higher number had been euthanized in years prior.
In Queensland, Australia, a mass grave was discovered by the Greyhound Racing Industry Task Force in Bundaberg. Investigators discovered fifty-five greyhound skeletons of dogs which “may have been beaten to death.” Two months later, a Queensland government inquiry into greyhound racing found that the “wastage rate” within the greyhound industry was unacceptably high. The inquiry demonstrated that between 2003 and 2013 the greyhound industry produced a surplus of “7,263 (average of 660 per year) or 30 per cent of [all] greyhounds whelped.” The report described these extra greyhounds as “unaccounted for.”
In Tasmania, Australia, an industry report entitled “Review of Arrangements for Animal Welfare in the Tasmanian Greyhound Racing Industry” found that during the 2013/14 racing season and the 2014/15 racing season, 753 greyhounds were killed by both the industry and by the industry rehoming program itself.
In South Australia, Australia, Greyhound Racing SA released a media statement under pressure from the public in September 2016. In it, the CEO admitted that in the last fiscal year 2015-2016, 535 greyhounds were euthanized or died.
In New Zealand, the National Animal Welfare Advisory Committee assesses that as many as 300 greyhounds are euthanized each year.
In Ireland, the Greyhound Rescue Association Ireland believes an average of thirty-eight greyhounds is destroyed each month as a result of industry overbreeding. GRAI estimates the total reaches over 450 deaths per year.
In the United Kingdom, building merchant David Smith was discovered in 2006 to have killed an estimated 10,000 greyhounds in his backyard with a bolt gun. He was paid £10 per dog and buried them in a pit on his property.
In Macau, the Canidrome racetrack kills nearly 100% of its greyhounds. While management purports to have a re-homing program, the track has only released a single dog to date.
The full extent of greyhound deaths may never be known, but the current figures confirm a grim reality: thousands upon thousands of greyhounds are euthanized or destroyed each year because it is expedient for industry participants to do so.
Hundreds of cases of cruelty and neglect have been documented around the world
The worldwide commercial racing industry has a well-documented history of animal welfare issues and abuse. These include starvation, drugging, mutilation, and abandonment.
• On December 9, 2015, ABC’s 7.30 program aired an investigation into greyhound exports from Australia to China and Vietnam in which reporters uncovered a 100% death rate for these greyhounds. Since 2001, at least 3,500 greyhounds have been exported to Macau from the Australian state of Victoria alone.
• On February 16, 2015, ABC’s Four Corners program released “Making a Killing,” a damning exposé into the widespread practice of live-baiting in Australia. Small animals like piglets, opossums and rabbits were routinely used as lures to ‘blood’ the greyhounds by some of the country’s most prominent industry participants.
• On November 3, 2014, BBC Panorama released an undercover report of race fixing in the greyhound racing industry in Great Britain. Trainer Chris Mosdall openly admitted to doping dogs to fix races, slowing them down with drugs for several races until the betting odds became highly profitable at which point he would enter them without.
• On October 27, 2014, French port authorities discovered the bodies of eleven Irish greyhounds who had suffocated in the cargo hold of the ferry Oscar Wilde. They were being exported from Ireland to Spain by way of France.
• On March 6, 2013, 3 News of New Zealand released its program “Let Me Entertain You” during which several industry participants admitted to the killing of hundreds of healthy greyhounds. The reporter also called into question the use of the word “retired” as a euphemism for “euthanized.”
• On April 10, 2012 in County Limerick, Ireland, six greyhounds were found dead, after having been shot in the head and dumped in a quarry. The dogs were traced back to their owner John Corkerey, who admitted he had arranged to destroy the dogs after a poor performance at their racing trials.
• On October 29, 2010, Florida’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering investigators reported the discovery of thirty-two grossly emaciated dead dogs and five barely alive at the Ebro dog track. Kennel operator Ronald John Williams was charged with thirty-seven counts of felony animal cruelty. The bodies of eight more dead dogs were found at Williams’s home, bringing the total up to forty.
Greyhounds test positive for serious drugs
Greyhounds routinely test positive for serious, prohibited drugs. Doping agents like cocaine, EPO, morphine, and amphetamines are found in greyhounds with alarming regularity. Though the industry often chalks up these occurrences to tainted food or the actions of a few bad apples, the doping problem runs deep in the racing culture. The Association of Racing Commissioners International, an industry group that works to promote integrity in the horse and greyhound racing business, includes nearly 900 prohibited drugs on its official control list.
Five racing countries have regulatory frameworks in place to handle drug screening — the US, Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, the UK. These industry organizations are responsible for finding and handling drug violations. According to Racing Analytical Services Limited, Macau’s Canidrome also performs drug testing, though the process, findings, and rulings, if any, are not public.
Since 2008, GREY2K USA Worldwide has obtained 419 drug-related rulings from American racetracks. Racing greyhounds have tested positive for a variety of serious drugs including cocaine and oxycodone. Additionally, greyhound trainers have themselves tested positive for cocaine and marijuana, and drug paraphernalia for both dogs and humans has been confiscated in greyhound kennels.
In the UK, the Greyhound Board of Great Britain has published hundreds of greyhound positives since 2009, forty-five alone in 2016. These include stanozolol, barbiturates, and morphine. Stanozolol is a synthetic anabolic steroid and has been banned for its performance-enhancing influence. Barbiturates are central nervous system depressants and are serious performance-affecting drugs. Morphine has been used as a masking agent in greyhounds to make dogs less aware of any injuries they may have.
In Scotland, a December 2016 newspaper investigation found that race fixing with drugs occurred with regularity at the non-registered “flapping” tracks. A trainer admitted to giving his dog valoids to slow him down, waiting a few races until the betting odds became favorable, then taking him off the drugs to result in a faster race pace.
In Ireland, the Irish Greyhound Board has posted 122 greyhound drug positives since 2013 in the form of Control Committee Reports and Adverse Analytical Findings. These include cocaine, amphetamine, and pentobarbital positives. While cocaine and amphetamine are known as dangerous performance-enhancing drugs, pentobarbital is a performance-reducing drug. In large doses, it has been used for both animal and human euthanasia and appears in nearly 25% of all IGB drug positives.
In New Zealand, the Racing Integrity Unit found twenty-three greyhound drug positives from 2014 to 2016. According to New Zealand’s Judicial Control Authority, some of these positives were morphine. Additionally, two greyhound trainers tested positive for cannabis.
In Australia, each state and territory has a regulatory agency. These agencies have reported hundreds of greyhound drug positives since 2008. In Queensland, greyhounds have tested positive for amphetamine, morphine, and pentobarbitone, a fast-acting barbiturate. In New South Wales, greyhounds have tested positive for EPO, amphetamine, and codeine. In Victoria, eight greyhounds tested positive for codeine and morphine in 2016. In Tasmania, greyhounds have tested positive for caffeine and cobalt. In South Australia, greyhounds have tested positive for amphetamine and cobalt. In the Australian Capital Territory, a greyhound tested positive for cocaine in 2010.
Additionally, greyhounds in Australia test positive for unusual drugs. In Queensland, a greyhound tested positive for Desvenlafaxine, a drug normally used to treat depression and which isn’t used at all in veterinary medicine. In Western Australia, a greyhound tested positive for Fertagyl, a drug normally used in cows to control oestrus cycles.
Gambling on greyhounds is declining
Greyhound wagering is on the decline in Ireland, Macau, and the US. Total wagering, also known as the handle or turnover, is an industry metric that gauges public interest in a particular gambling sector. In the last ten years, wagering on greyhound racing in these three countries has diminished by hundreds of millions of dollars.
In Ireland, the Irish Greyhound Board reported €23,446,799 in total racing turnover in 2015, a decline of 63.05% since 2006.
In Macau, the Gaming Inspection and Coordination Bureau reported MOP 335,000,000 ($41,888,000) in total wagering in 2016, a decrease of 79.81% since 2010.
In the United States, the Association of Racing Commissioners International reported $586,608,932 in total handle in 2014, a reduction of 83.24% since its peak in 1991.
Greyhound racing is a dying industry
The greyhound racing industry is dying. Around the world, dozens of tracks have closed and continue to close. Fewer than 150 commercial tracks currently exist, and more are slated to close in the near future. This decline is the result of increased public awareness that dog racing is cruel and inhumane coupled with competition from other, faster forms of gambling associated with the rise of internet and phone gambling.
Since GREY2K USA Worldwide began its US campaign in 2001, thirty American dog tracks have closed or ceased live racing. Most recently, Arizona became the fortieth state to outlaw dog racing outright.
Once numbering over 100, Australia’s tracks have continued to close. Today, the country has sixty-five greyhound tracks, the most recent one closing in December 2016.
New Zealand once operated thirteen tracks and now maintains only seven.
The UK once had at least seventy-seven licensed tracks. Now only thirty-four operate there, with two tracks set to close in 2018. In London itself, once the home of over thirty greyhound stadiums, the last track at Plough Lane held its final race in March 2017. Wimbledon will now be used as a soccer stadium.
In China, the Canidrome has been ordered to move or close by the Macau government. This is the only legal dog track in the entire country.
Greyhound racing and its attendant cruelties violate the values of our world community and should be prohibited.
Last updated May 24, 2017. This article is updated from time to time and the updates can be found here. Please refer to this link for the bibliography and original pictures.
About GREY2K USA Worldwide
Formed in 2001 by attorney Christine Dorchak, lobbyist Carey Theil and veterinarian Dr. Jill Hopfenbeck, GREY2K USA Worldwide works to pass stronger greyhound protections laws and to end the cruelty of dog racing on both national and international levels. The non-profit organization also promotes the rescue and adoption of greyhounds acrsso the globe. For more information, contact President Christine Dorchak at firstname.lastname@example.org or visit us at www.GREY2KUSA.org or on facebook at www.facebook.com/GREY2KUSA.
We have sent a donation to help Mary at Dungarvan Rescue in Ireland as she confronts the testing task or rehabilitating 10 rescued greyhounds. A few weeks ago she was contacted by another rescue asking if she could help with some greyhounds. It transpired there were 150 of them living in dreadful conditions, although it must be said they were being fairly well fed but we don’t know what. Mary agreed to help with 10, other groups have taken many of the rest.
The poor greyhounds had come from a situation simply gone bad, although it seems the Irish Greyhound Board knew about the problem for around 2 years. Mary couldn’t give us too many more details because prosecutions are pending. She will update us when she can.
The greyhounds are currently in boarding kennels, where they have so far been treated for fleas and other parasites and are doing quite well. Unfortunately several of these greyhounds are unused to being handled and will need quite a bit of work.
A few weeks ago Dungarvan took two greyhounds who were about to be shot and one of the them, Paddy, had a lump on one of his front legs. It was a tumour. Having had all his long bones and legs x-rayed, Mary had to make the decision to have is leg amputated. It was removed totally from his shoulder, which was a huge op but has healed really well and he is doing great on his 3 legs. He is only seven and just sooooo sweet, he was a real trooper during recovery and is back playing around outside with the girl he came with. Luckily the cancer had not spread to any other bones so hopefully he will now get to enjoy a real life.
If you can also help Mary towards the costs because the rehabilitation of these greyhounds will take a huge chunk out of Dungarvan’s costs but the greyhounds needed help – they were at the very real risk of being killed. Dungarvan’s PayPal is email@example.com.
This is just the tip of the iceberg. Last week when the Irish Parliamentary Agriculture Committee conducted the pre-legislative scrutiny of the Greyhound Industry Bill 2017, the Greyhound Rescue Association of Ireland (GRAI) said 2,896 greyhounds were submitted to Irish pounds from 2010 – 2015, of which 2,497 ended up being euthanised. GRAI commented, “We’ve had trainers say to us: ‘If you can’t take this dog this week, he gets the needle.” Mary at Dungarvan is facing this emotional blackmail now. Who could say no?
The new Bill brought forward by Minister for Agriculture, Michael Creed,includes increased provisions around the welfare of greyhounds. More details are covered in this article in the Irish Times.
All of this comes at the time when Harold’s Cross greyhound track in Dublin has been closed by the Irish Greyhound Board and is up for sale, likely educational use, to contribute to its own debt relief. Stakeholders are now picketing and withdrawing greyhounds from racing at Shelbourne track, also in Dublin. While this action takes place, Shelbourne track is closed and losing money, adding to the Irish Greyhound Board’s debt. The Irish Greyhound Board is asking the pickets to reconsider their action because it is costing the industry €30,000 per week. In view of the stalemate, the press in Ireland is asking if the racing industry can be viable. If not, sudden death like this could mean a mammoth rescue challenge for thousands of greyhounds.
We like other rescued greyhound advocates are watching closely. We can only pray for a staggered demise.