Greyhound racing is one of the popular action sports, the sport of racing greyhounds. It started in 1974 in Western Australia, controlled by the Canning Greyhound Racing Association. In 1981, the Western Australian Greyhound Racing Authority, a government appointed committee, took over the control of the sport (Racing and Wagering Western Australia, 2002). In the race, dogs chase after an artificial hare on the track which leads them to the finish line, the first to arrive is the winner of the race. In many countries, greyhound racing is purely conducted for enjoyment, thus the dogs are almost invariably pets and are therefore generally well treated. However, in other countries including the US, UK and Australia, legal gambling is permitted which leads to debates and voices of objections from the public concerning the welfare of the racing dogs. The racing industry has always been targeted by the greyhound rescue community and animal rights groups, for what they have done to the hundreds and thousands of racing greyhounds that did not even get to race on the track. In this essay, the industry would be analyzed, from the race itself, the kennel owners who supply the dogs, to the adoption scheme and euthanasia, also the arguments brought up by the animal rights group and finally my own point of view towards this issue.
“Racing greyhounds sustain a number of specific musculoskeletal injuries that are relatively uncommon in other working dogs and in pets.” (G. K. Sicard et al, 1999). It was thought to be related to the anatomy of greyhounds since those injuries are rarely seen in other breeds of racing dogs. A survey done by G. K. Sicard reveals that the number of injuries indeed is closely related to the design of the race track, as well as other environmental and physical factors. It is found that race tracks with shorter straightway and smaller turning radius with a steeper bank leads to a higher number of injuries when comparing with other tracks. The smaller turning radius increases lean required by the dog and thus increases the supporting leg’s susceptibility to injury, while the steeper bank allow the animal to reach higher race speed which in turn increase the chances of getting injured (G. K. Sicard et al, 1999). Therefore, the design of the race track is closely related to number of injuries, the tracks thus are carefully regulated and monitored. Race tracks have to be licensed by the Board, established under the Greyhound Industry Act, 1958. A control steward, stipendiary steward and a race track executive are also in placed to inspect on the track surface before each race meeting and trial session, to require that the condition and lighting of tracks are adequate, and to ensure that greyhound races at the track are conducted in accordance with the regulations (Greyhound Industry (Racing) Regulations, 2007). With the condition of the track adequately maintained throughout the race program, in Sicard’s survey, no relevance was found between the race number and the injury rate. The Animal Welfare Act, which will come into effect at the end of the year, also requires all greyhound tracks to have a veterinarian on site (Jamas McCarthy, 2007). This would further improve the welfare of the race dogs. Apart from the race itself, the dog suppliers too play an important role in ensuring the well being of the race dogs.
In the past, racing greyhounds were usually kept with their owners, who were also their trainer and rearer. This practice is still continuing in places like South Africa, but most countries have slowly adopted the system where race dogs are kenneled with a trainer. Kennel owners now supply greyhounds and are independent contractors. This creates problems when kennel owners treat their dogs as business tools and try to maximize profit. Over-breeding is a major problem; due to the limitations in kennel spaces, they would give priorities to competitive dogs which make them money. Thus,...
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