Greyhounds go way back. So far back, no one really knows when they first appeared. Ancient gods, like Diana and Artemis had greyhounds as their companions of choice. Egyptian, Roman and Greek nobility treated greyhounds as honored family members. In the Middle Ages, priests saved greyhounds from extinction and again the nobility claimed them as an exclusive right. Shakespeare and Chaucer immortalized them in their literature.
Greyhounds were imported to America in the 19th century so farmers could keep down their varmint population. Friendly betting between farmers turned into modern racing in the 20th century. Today 35,000 greyhounds are bred to race, and live most of their lives in crates. Release from these crates occurs when they race, are adopted, or are to be killed because they are no longer earning their keep. It’s a far cry from their pampered and revered past.
You can learn more about the history of greyhounds by purchasing Cynthia Branigan’s “The Reign of the Greyhound” using our affiliate link with Amazon. Links with more information about the history of greyhounds include:
LEARN – GREYHOUND RACING
Greyhound Gang wants a world where all greyhounds bred find loving homes. Unfortunately, most greyhound racing breeders take no responsibility for the lives of the hounds they breed, when they are not viable economically. It is first and foremost a business. It was not long ago that most unwanted greyhounds were being dumped at medical schools like Colorado State University, at research facilities like Gortek, in acres of graveyards, and at vet offices.
These links have information about the track industry from different perspectives.
This essay was written in 1999. At that time, 50,000 greyhounds were bred yearly and there were 47 race tracks. It’s 2014, and about 18,000 greyhounds are bred yearly for 17 race tracks. Numbers have decreased because tracks have closed due to economic downturns, not because breeders have tried to limit the hounds bred. Unfortunately, in my opinion and experiences, most breeders’ treatment of racing greyhounds has not changed. They are disposable.
A week does not go by when I do not get a note, or a call to help find room for greyhounds whose lives are forfeit if sanctuary is not found. This plea happens to all volunteer greyhound adoption groups. There are never enough homes.
I just do not understand why this cannot change. Breeders and owners of racing greyhounds say they love their dogs; the adopters and adoption groups spend their own time and money volunteering to find homes for greyhounds because they love the dogs, but thousands of greyhounds are still dying.
To my simple mind – Dying because too many are bred, and not enough responsibility is taken by breeders and owners for the bringing of greyhound lives into this world.
If everyone involved in greyhound breeding would breed less, and would be pro-responsibility towards the lives they bring into this world, than I believe that the over 300 volunteer adoption groups would not feel so overwhelmed, and at times anti-anything. Anyone involved in rescue constantly feels they are not doing enough and only putting their fingers in the dike, because when a home is found for one, there are ten others to take his/her place.
It seems to me that adoption groups are taking on responsibilities that ultimately belong first with the owners and breeders.
Pro-Responsibility means to me:
If you breed or own a racing greyhound, (or any dog for that matter) then you take responsibility for the LIFE of that dog. It is your responsibility to give that life a chance at life. If you no longer want that dog in your life, then you:
- Pay to have the appropriate medical work done, and take the time and money to find that life a good home
- Pay an adoption group to get the medical work done, and to find a home (My suggestion – a minimum of $200 to offset just some of the expenses – medical, lodging, food, marketing, transport)
- Putting a dog down, that you have bred, is not an option from my view of the universe
If ALL greyhound breeders and owners acted responsibly, and the industry tells us that more and more are, then anti-racing sentiments would be left to those that truly want to stop racing as a sport.
Many greyhound adoption people feel frustrated that greyhounds are not being taken care of after they no longer earn their keep as racers, or even when they are deemed as youngsters as not good racing prospects. Adoption people pay for all the extensive medical bills, the food, the housing, the hauling and the marketing materials to find homes. In addition they spend countless volunteer hours taking in greyhounds, and finding homes for them. If the industry provided money to adoption groups for the care of ALL the greyhounds that are bred (currently this number is over 17,000 a year, and includes those that never make it to the track, in addition to those that run and are retired), then adoption people would embrace those industry people who take a pro-responsibility stance.
Another definite way to help with the glut of greyhounds needing homes, would be to breed fewer greyhounds. This would mean there might be homes for all. Potentially, people would be clamoring for the FEWER greyhounds that are bred, and need homes when their racing careers are over, or haven’t even started.
Setting up a program that involves less breeding, and more pro-adoption advocacy would be a whole new paradigm about the treatment of animals, and greyhounds in particular. The racing industry could really set a trend with taking a pro-responsibility stance – and get a lot of very positive media coverage for those efforts.
Until the majority of the people who breed greyhounds stop viewing them as disposable, and take a pro-responsibility stance, we have a long way to go to be a gentler, kinder people.