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Dog racing

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Dog racing

"Dog racing" redirects here. For other uses, see Dog racing (disambiguation).

Greyhound racing is an organized, competitive industry in which greyhound dogs are raced around a track. The dogs chase a lure (traditionally an artificial 'hare' or 'rabbit') on a track until the greyhounds cross the finish line. As with horse racing, greyhound races often allow the public to wager on the outcome.

In many countries, greyhound racing is purely amateur and for enjoyment. In other countries (particularly Australia, Ireland, Macau, Mexico, Spain, the UK and the US), greyhound racing is part of the gambling industry, similar to although far less profitable than horse racing. There is some popular concern in countries with greyhound gambling regarding the well-being of the dogs; the effectiveness of industry efforts to address these concerns is a topic of some debate. A greyhound adoption movement has arisen to assist retired racing dogs in finding homes as pets.


Modern greyhound racing has its origins in coursing.[1] 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 industry emerged in its recognizable modern form, featuring circular or oval tracks, with the invention of the mechanical or artificial hare in 1912 by Owen Patrick Smith. O.P. Smith had altruistic aims for the industry to stop the killing of the jack rabbits and see "greyhound racing as we see horse racing." In 1919, Smith opened the first professional dog-racing track with stands in Emeryville, California.[2] The certificates system led the way to parimutuel betting, as quarry and on-course gambling, in the United States during the 1930s.

In 1926 it was introduced to Britain by an American, Charles Munn, in association with Major Lyne-Dixon, a key figure in coursing, and a Canadian, Brigadier-General Critchley. The deal went sour with Smith never hearing from Munn again. Like the American 'International Greyhound Racing Association' (or the In.G.R.A.), Munn and Critchley launched the Greyhound Racing Association, and held the first British meeting at Manchester's Belle Vue Stadium. The industry was successful in cities and towns throughout the U.K. - by the end of 1927, there were forty tracks operating.

The industry of greyhound racing 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.

Greyhound racing enjoyed its highest attendances just after the Second World War—for example, there were 34 million paying spectators in 1946. The industry 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 today

Today, greyhound racing continues in many countries around the world.

The main greyhound racing countries are:

  • Alabama
  • Arizona
  • Arkansas
  • Colorado (Racing suspended in June 2008.[4])
  • Connecticut (No greyhound racing has been conducted in Connecticut since 2006.)
  • Florida
  • Guam (Greyhound racing is legal, but the only operating track closed on November 8, 2008; a ban is being debated.[5])
  • Iowa
  • Kansas (Greyhound racing is legal, but not currently conducted)
  • Massachusetts (Massachusetts residents voted to ban greyhound racing in 2008 [Question 3, Passed November 4, 2008]. The ban was operationalized using a "phase out" approach, with all dog racing operations in Massachusetts required to cease by 2010, and the state's two dog racing tracks to be shut down.)[6]

Smaller-scale greyhound racing countries are:

In several European countries (Belgium, Denmark, The Czech Republic, Finland, France, Germany, Hungary, The 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.

Medical care

Greyhound adoption groups frequently report that the dogs from the tracks have tooth problems, the cause of which is debated. The groups often also find that the dogs carry tick-borne diseases and parasites due to the lack of proper preventative treatments. The dogs require regular vaccination to minimize outbreaks of diseases such as kennel cough.[8]

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 being made to recover urine samples from all greyhounds in a race, not just the winners. Greyhounds from which samples cannot 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.[8]

Life after racing

Generally, a greyhound's career will end between the ages of four and six – after the dog can no longer race, or possibly when it is no longer competitive. The best dogs are kept for breeding, and there are both industry-associated adoption groups and rescue groups that work to obtain retired racing greyhounds and place them as pets. In the United Kingdom, according to the BBC, one in four retired greyhounds finds a home as a pet.[9] In the United States, prior to the formation of adoption groups, over 20,000 retired greyhounds a year were killed; recent estimates still number in the thousands, with the industry claiming that about 90% of National Greyhound Association-registered animals either being adopted, or returned for breeding purposes (according to the industry numbers upwards of 2000 dogs are still euthanized annually in the US while anti-racing groups estimating the figure at closer to 12,000.)[10] Opponents of greyhound racing dispute the National Greyhound Association's claims regarding adoption statistics, pointing to statements made by NGA officials that they don't actually know what happens to dogs when they stop racing.[11] Other greyhounds are sold to research labs, such as Liverpool university animal training school, who have received the remains of dogs killed at Manchester's Belle Vue stadium.[12] A trainer in Lincolnshire was also exposed offering 'slow' dogs to the Liverpool school.[13][14] Additionally dogs are sent to foreign racetracks such as Spain and sometimes in developing countries. In the North East of England a man is believed to have destroyed as many as 10,000 healthy Greyhounds with a captive bolt gun [15]

Several organizations, such as British Greyhounds Retired Database, Greyhound Rescue West of England, Birmingham Greyhound Protection, GAGAH, Adopt-a-Greyhound and Greyhound Pets of America, and the Retired Greyhound Trust 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.

Greyhound racing by country


The Australian Greyhound Racing Association (AGRA) is divided into many state governing bodies, which regulate greyhound welfare and living conditions. Some racing authorities in Australia, partly finance some of the Greyhound Adoption Groups, which house dozens of greyhounds a month.

Each Australian State and Territory has a governing greyhound racing body. Greyhound Racing New South Wales (GRNSW) and Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) are the two largest authorities, governing over 40 racetracks.

The Queensland Greyhound Racing Authority (QGRA), Western Australian Greyhound Racing Authority (WAGRA), Tasmanian Greyhound Racing Authority (TGRA), Greyhound Racing South Australia (GRSA), Northern Territory Racing Authority, and the Canberra Greyhound Racing Club (CGRC), all contribute to running and monitoring of greyhound racing in Australia as it continues to grow.

Major greyhound racing venues include Wentworth Park in Sydney, Cannington Park in Perth, Angle Park in Adelaide, Albion Park in Brisbane and Sandown Park in Melbourne.

Many adoption programs have been setup throughout Australia known as Greyhound Adoption Program or Greyhounds As Pets, GAP. They generally work with their Greyhound Racing Administration. Greyhounds are checked for parasites, malnourishment, or any other medical conditions by an on-course vet before being able to compete.

Greyhounds are usually bought and sold as puppies just after having been whelped or as racing dogs that have been fully trained via word of mouth on the track or via the few greyhound trading and sales platforms. In Australia the buying and selling of greyhounds is controlled and regulated by the states and territories.

New Zealand

In New Zealand, around 700 dogs are bred each year for racing[16] (Take average from "Greyhounds Named" table), and around 500 are imported from Australia.[17] Over 200 are retired annually by a charity established and partially funded by the New Zealand Greyhound Racing Association.[18] Many greyhounds are kept as pets or rehomed by their trainers after racing as well as a large number rehomed by other greyhound adoption organizations throughout the country. Some greyhounds are even returned to overseas owners. Greyhound racing is a NZ$75 million industry. There is some concern over the welfare of New Zealand racing greyhounds by a small Anti Racing community [19] that has led the racing industry to initiate its own internal inquiry into their outcomes, injuries and welfare.[20]

South Africa

In the Republic of South Africa dogs are kept with their owners. Due to the amateur state of racing, owners are usually also the trainer and rearer of the dogs; it is very rare that a dog is kenneled with a trainer.

Racing is controlled by a partnership between the United Greyhound Racing and Breeders Society (UGRABS) and the South African Renhond Unie (SARU - South African Racing Dog Union). The studbook is kept by the South African Studbook and organization who keep studbooks for all stud animals. Racing takes place on both oval and straight tracks. Racing is illegal in South Africa.

United Kingdom

Greyhound racing is a popular industry in Great Britain with attendances at around 3.2 million at over 5,750 meetings in 2007. There are 26 registered stadiums in Britain, and a parimutuel betting tote system with on-course and off-course betting available, with a turnover of £75,100,000.[21]

On 24 July 1926, in front of 1,700 spectators, the first greyhound race took place at Belle Vue Stadium where seven greyhounds raced round an oval circuit to catch an electric artificial hare.[22] This marked the first ever modern greyhound race in Great Britain.

Greyhound racing in Great Britain is regulated by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB).[23] Greyhounds are not kept at the tracks, and are instead housed in the kennels of trainers and transported to the tracks to race. There are 26 stadiums registered by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain.[24] Those who race on the independent circuit (known as 'flapping'), do not have this regulation.

Some of the stadiums where greyhound racing has been staged at are as follows: Powderhall Stadium, Edinburgh; Stenhouse Stadium, Edinburgh; Scarlet Park, Wallyford, East Lothian; East End Park, Dunfermline; White City Stadium, Glasgow; Carntyne Stadium, Glasgow; Saracen Park, Glasgow; The Stadium, Motherwell, Lanarkshire; Airebles Road Stadium, Motherwell, Glasgow; Blantyre Stadium, Blantyre, Lanarkshire; Shielfield Park, Berwick; Gosforth Stadium, Newcastle; Lonsdale Park, Workington; Falkirk Stadium, Falkirk; Carfin Stadium, Carfin, Lanarkshire; Sun Street Stadium, Stoke-on-Trent; Walthamstow Stadium, London; Weir Stadium, Rayleigh, Essex; Caxton Stadium, Cambridgeshire; Newmarket Road Stadium, Cambridge; Wembley Stadium, London; Harringay Stadium, London; New Cross Stadium, London; County Ground, Exeter; Pennycross Stadium, Plymouth; Raikes Park, Bolton; Dudley Wood Stadium, Cradley Heath; Perry Barr Greyhound Stadium, Birmingham; Doncaster Greyhound Stadium, Doncaster, Groveway Stadium, Milton Keynes.

United States

In the United States, greyhound racing is governed by state law. The National Greyhound Association founded in 1906 strictly regulates greyhound ownership in the U.S, and has established comprehensive animal welfare guidelines based on veterinary recommendations. These guidelines cover nearly every aspect of greyhound care on the farm and at the racetrack. The American Greyhound Council conducts unannounced inspections each year on the nation's 300 Greyhound breeders to enforce compliance with the industry's animal welfare guidelines. Minor violations are noted and corrected and more serious violations are addressed in hearings before the NGA's governing body. Those found guilty of these violations can be banned from the sport for life.[25]

Some Greyhounds live in climate-controlled kennels, usually near the tracks where they race. They are taken out several times daily for mild exercise and play, exercised on sprint paths and taken for walks.

In addition to state law and regulations, most tracks adopt their own rules, policies and procedures. In exchange for the right to race their greyhounds at the track, kennel owners must sign contracts in which they agree to abide by all track rules, including those pertaining to animal welfare. If kennel owners violate these contract clauses, they stand to lose their track privileges and even their racing licenses.

In recent years, several state governments in the United States have passed legislation to improve the treatment of racing dogs in their jurisdiction. During the 1990s, seven states banned gambling on live greyhound racing. In November 2008, Massachusetts held a vote to ban greyhound racing, which passed 56% to 44%.

In Florida, where 13 tracks survive, the handle or amount wagered on racing has dropped from about $620 million to $300 million over a ten-year period.[26] However this has increased as greyhound racing surges in popularity.

Note. Greyhound racing is not banned in ANY state in the USA, gambling on live greyhound racing is

See also


External links

  • DMOZ
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