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Greyhound Racing

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Photo finish of a greyhound race in Tampa, Florida, USA on February 9, 1939 Photo finish of a greyhound race in Tampa, Florida, USA on February 9, 1939

Greyhound racing is the sport of racing greyhounds. The dogs chase a lure (an artificial hare or rabbit) on a track until they arrive at the finish line. The one that arrives first is the winner.


Modern greyhound racing has its origins in coursing. The first recorded attempt at racing greyhounds on a straight track was made beside the Welsh Harp reservoir, Hendon in 1876, but this experiment did not develop. The sport emerged in its recognizable modern form, featuring circular or oval tracks, with the invention of the mechanical or artificial hare 1912 by Owen Patrick Smith. O.P. Smith had altruistic aims for the sport to stop the killing of the jack rabbits and see "greyhound race as we see horses". The certificates system led way to parimutuel betting, as quarry and on-course gambling, in the United States during the 1920s. In 1926, armed with the Smith patents and a hand shake, it was introduced to Britain by an American, Charles Munn, in association with Major Lyne-Dixon, a key figure in coursing, and Brigadier-General Critchley. The deal went sour with Smith never hearing from Munn again. Like the American, International Greyhound Racing Association, the In.G.R.A. Munn and Critchley launched the Greyhound Racing Association, and held the first British meeting at Manchester's Belle Vue. The sport was successful in cities and town throughout the U.K. - by the end of 1927, there were forty tracks operating. The sport was particularly attractive to predominantly male working-class audiences, for whom the urban locations of the tracks and the evening times of the meetings were accessible, and to patrons and owners from various social backgrounds. Betting has always been a key ingredient of greyhound racing, both through on-course bookmakers and the totalisator, first introduced in 1930. Like horse racing, it is popular to bet on the greyhound races as a form of parimutuel gambling.

In common with many other sports, greyhound racing enjoyed its highest attendances just after the Second World War—for example, there were 34 million paying spectators in 1946. The sport experienced a decline from the early 1960s, when the 1960 Betting and Gaming Act permitted off-course cash betting, although sponsorship, limited television coverage, and the later abolition of on-course betting tax have partially offset this decline.

Greyhound racing is undergoing a resurgence in popularity as more and more people discover it as both a sport and a form of gambling.

Greyhound racing today

Several greyhounds before a race Several greyhounds before a race

Today greyhound racing continues in many countries around the world. The main greyhound racing and gambling countries are:

  • Australia
  • Ireland
  • United Kingdom
  • United States In the United States there are greyhound tracks in the following 15 states
    • Alabama
    • Arizona
    • Arkansas
    • Florida
    • Colorado
    • Connecticut
    • Iowa
    • Kansas
    • Massachusetts
    • New Hampshire
    • Oregon
    • Rhode Island
    • Texas
    • West Virginia
    • Wisconsin
  • New Zealand

Smaller scale greyhound racing is ongoing in:

  • Many European Countries
  • Argentina
  • Brazil
  • China (only in Macau)
  • Mexico
  • Spain
  • Pakistan
  • Vietnam

Treatment of racing dogs

Living Conditions

In many of the countries where there are large greyhound race tracks with gambling, the dogs live in kennels at or near the track or by their trainers.

In the United States, the kennels are indoor crates stacked two levels high, with the females usually kept on the upper level, and males on the lower level. While the space allocated to each dog varies between locations, typical crate size is 3-1/2 feet wide by 4 feet deep by 3 feet high. While living on the track these dogs will spend most of their time in these kennels.

In several European countries (Belgium, Denmark, Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, Netherlands, Sweden, Switzerland) greyhound racing is carried out by the owners of the dogs without financial interest. This amateur form of the sport is also found in some countries, such as the United States, where professional racing exists. In these countries the dogs often live as pets.

In Australia

In Australia live in kennels at night that meet stringent guidelines set by the The Greyhound Racing Authorities in Australia, and by day many greyhounds are put into running yards or day yards to keep them entertained and exercised. The aim is to keep greyhounds as fit, happy, and healthy as possible.

Greyhounds are checked for parasites, mulnurishment, or any other medical conditions by an on-course vet before being able to compete.

The Greyhound Racing Authorities in Australia heavily observe and regulate greyhound welfare and living conditions and all racing authorities in Australia finance Greyhound Adoption Groups, which home dozens of greyhounds a month.

Medical Care

In places that allow gambling on Greyhound racing the owners often treat the dogs as short-term investments. This often means that the care they receive is intended only to help them perform on the track, not for their long-term health. Greyhound adoption groups frequently report that the dogs from the tracks have tooth problems the cause of which is debated although it is likely related to either a low-quality raw meat diet or damage to the gums from chewing on metal cage bars. The groups often also find that the dogs carry tick-borne diseases and parasites due to the lack of proper preventative treatments. Due to the dense living conditions in the kennels, the dogs require regular vaccination to minimize outbreaks of diseases like kennel cough.

After the dogs are no longer able to race (generally, a greyhound's career will end by the age of three or four), owners either keep the dog for breeding or dispose of the dog. They will sometimes have ex-racing greyhounds euthanized if they do not want to go through the expense of finding the dogs homes. The ratio of dogs killed to those adopted is greatly debated. There is much debate between the racing industry and anti-racing activists about the quality of the dog's care making the exact details hard to determine.

Recently, doping has also emerged as a problem in Greyhound racing. The racing industry is actively working to prevent the spread of this practice; attempts are made to recover urine samples from all greyhounds in a race, not just the winners. Greyhounds from which samples can not be obtained for a certain number of consecutive races are subject to being ruled off the track. Violators are subject to criminal penalties and loss of their racing licenses by state gaming commissions and a permanent ban from the National Greyhound Association. The trainer of the greyhound is at all times the "absolute insurer" of the condition of the animal. The trainer is responsible for any positive test regardless of how the banned substance has entered the greyhound's system.

Several organizations, such as British Greyhounds Retired Database, Adopt-a-Greyhound and National Greyhound Adoption Program, try to ensure that as many of the dogs as possible are adopted. Some of these groups also advocate better treatment of the dogs while at the track and/or the end of racing for profit. In recent years the racing industry has made significant progress in establishing programs for the adoption of retired racers. In addition to actively cooperating with private adoption groups throughout the country, many race tracks have established their own adoption programs at various tracks.

In recent years, several state governments in the United States have passed legislation to improve the treatment of racing dogs in their juristiction.

In venues where greyhound racing does not involve gambling, the dogs are almost invariably pets and are, therefore, generally well treated.

See also

External links

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