Answers to Commonly Asked Questions
I have heard there are greyhound rescue groups that are “pro-racing,”
or “neutral.” Can that possibly be true!?
Individuals and groups involved in greyhound rescue hold philosophical positions
on dog racing that range from pro-racing (“The dogs are treated
very well and they love to run!”), to neutral about racing (“we
refuse to address the reasons the dogs need homes”), to anti-racing
(“educate, legislate and eliminate dog racing”) and everything
in between. To complicate matters, even members of the same group can entertain
To a world unfamiliar with the politics of greyhound rescue, it appears
as if any sincere effort made by any group to find homes for unwanted greyhounds
appears admirable. We agree! But we also believe the goal of
any legitimate rescue organization should be to put oneself out of the business
of rescue by solving the underlying problem, instead of perpetuating it.
Pro- racing or neutral groups and individuals assist an industry responsible
for the immense suffering and destruction of greyhounds when they either
innocently or purposely engage in the following behavior:
Perpetuate myths that have no basis in truth. For example, telling adopters that all greyhounds are “well taken
of” when greyhounds continue to come to most adoption groups with
signs of both physiological and psychological neglect. Rescued greyhounds
are frequently loaded with ticks and fleas, worms, have ill-kempt coats,
often have gum and tooth disease, a multitude of scars and more serious
conditions such as the presence of tick borne diseases. Behaviorally, greyhounds
tend to be socialized to a limited range of experiences and exhibit behavior
indicative of having been live lure trained. Many adopters unwittingly
bear the burden of responsibility of putting in the extra time and effort
to both socialize the dogs, as well as guard against their predilection
to kill perceived prey animals.
Accept goods or services from industry members in exchange for silence
or for helping to spread industry propaganda. There are some
adoption groups who take money/dogs/benefits from certain greyhound racing
industry members and then feel obligated to not speak out about industry
abuses for fear of losing these “resources.” Especially
prevalent is the fear that certain industry members will no longer “give
them dogs” if they speak out against racing (what does that say about
an industry who would rather see the dogs die than give them to adoption
groups?). Such groups are scared into a silence = compliance =
reliance vicious cycle. Some groups believe they cannot change
the system and do not feel empowered enough to even try. Others have
come to rely on other benefits they derive from the industry and decide
that silence is not such a bad “trade off,” rationalizing that
at least they are able to save some dogs by their silence. This bartering
of silence for dogs, or goods for propaganda may constitute a form of free
public relations for the greyhound racing industry and tends to deceive
the public. Additionally it may serve to encourage the breeding (and
eventual death) of more unwanted greyhounds.
Last week my adoption group told me that “greyhounds will go extinct
if we do away with racing cause that is what they were meant to do…”
Astonishingly, there are some naive people who buy into the propaganda that
they would lose their beloved greyhound breed if dog racing were to end
tomorrow. People who believe such a statement have allowed fear to
obscure their common sense.
Greyhounds are one of the most ancient breeds of dogs known to man and
have existed in their most current incarnation for centuries. Greyhounds
were not originally bred to race. In fact, greyhounds existed before
the creation of dog racing and were originally bred in the Middle East for
hunting purposes. Dog racing is a 20th century opportunistic phenomenon,
based on the exploitation of a breed characteristic. Greyhounds thrived
long before dog racing and it seems certain that they will do so after racing
no longer exists.
In our modern era, most currently recognized breeds of dogs are no longer
used in the capacity they were originally bred for and have not “gone
extinct.” For example, many terriers are no longer needed as
ratters and likewise many herding breeds no longer drive cattle or sheep.
Greyhound and greyhound-type breeds are still used, as they have been since
antiquity, for lure coursing events and as hunting dogs, to eradicate perceived
“pest” animals. A suprising number of countries possess an indigenous
Greyhound fanciers in the U.S. recognize two distinct types of registry
systems: The American Kennel Club (AKC) greyhound and the non-AKC, or National
Greyhound Association greyhound. The AKC or “show” greyhound enjoys
a small but loyal following in this country. Mercifully, they have not had
to endure the level of exploitation which has befallen the greyhound type
which is over bred for dog racing.
Since the preponderance of destroyed and discarded greyhounds in this
country are of racing stock, many adopters are wrongly led to believe that
the hardy and personable variety of greyhound currently asleep on their
floor would not have existed if it weren’t for greyhound racing. The
fact is, greyhounds of the same conformation, size, weight parameters and
temperament we currently term “racing stock,” have persisted in
history alongside the AKC greyhound type to the current day, just as other
purebred dogs exist in differing “lines.” Today, there are
breeders of racing stock-type lines producing and selling greyhound puppies
of the same confirmation and temperment as your ex-racer. If there
was no dog racing, but there was a continuing demand for this type of greyhound,
there would undoubtedly be an increase in the supply of this type of greyhound.
While buying a healthy pup from a responsible breeder may not have the cache
of “saving a life,” it also does not promote the needless overbreeding
and killing of innocent creatures. It seems more likely that if dog racing
had not evolved as a business, supply and demand for any type of greyhound
would be quite reasonable (given the breed’s historically understated popularity).
It can certainly be said that exploitation of this distinct type of greyhound
for its speed and persistence never would have taken place on the scale
it does today, were it not for its unfortunate commoditization.
It is patently incorrect to state that greyhound racing is responsible
for the creation of the breed and its perpetuation. The only “extinction”
that would take place if greyhound racing were to end tomorrow would be
the “extinction” of the bizarre and inhumane ritual of destroying
thousands of greyhounds each year in the name of entertainment.
I just recently adopted my greyhound and don’t know that much about
dog racing. Could you please respond to the following two comments
I recently heard?
“Greyhounds are canine athletes that are treated better by the
industry than most people treat their children: The dogs wouldn’t run if
they were poorly treated.”
Greyhound Industry Spokesperson
Answers to Commonly Asked Questions