Please read below and then make your own decision.
We are often asked a variety of questions by inquisitive members of the general public, therefore we have provided a series of questions and answers to help those who are undecided about attending a night at the dogs.
Most people attend the tracks just for a bit of fun, some have no inclination as to what they are supporting, yet others may simply not care. I am guessing you are someone who cares to know the truth, otherwise you would not have read this far.
Greyhounds are intelligent animals and make great companions. A grey will cuddle into your side and show you affection just like any other breed of dog, so why are they treated as livestock rather than as a domestic dog?
Greyhounds are bred especially for the racing industry and not as pets. They are the cogs of the industry and the value of their lives cannot compete with profits made by the racing industry. It is because of the over breeding and demand for the 'best performance' that innocent dogs are expelled from the mouth of the industry, before being spat into the knackers yards as nothing more than waste produce.
What is a Knackers yard?
A knackers yard is where greyhounds (Livestock) can be taken by their owners/trainers to be legally disposed of in an 'economical' way, rather than the more humane method of veterinary euthanasia. Here they are destroyed by the lethal bolt gun, simply because it is cheaper than paying for euthanasia to be administered by a vet.
Greyhounds and horses are both treated as livestock when their career is over, some may not have even began competing but will be deemed unfit for purpose. They are young and innocent, but because they do not perform as required by the profit maker, their grim end is often inevitable and decided without any hesitation; 'a bolt through the skull'. Nobody sees their pain and suffering, it is therefore dismissed and for many people much easier to pretend this does not exist.
Yet these horrors do exist and dogs continue to suffer in silence. Many greyhounds have watched their companions die, any dog would experience terror while forced to watch their kennel mates murdered in cold blood and would be able to sense they are next in the firing line.
A very bloodied and traumatic end, simply because they are deemed unsuitable to entertain.
The unlicensed / untrained shooter.
A bullet in the head is meant to be a quick death, but a bolt is not a bullet, and a bolt gun is not even a firearm, it uses a spring to propel the projectile, not so quick, while the bolt has a 'massive capacity' for misuse. When the bolt hits incorrectly either because the shooter is untrained / unlicensed or simply due to the bolt gun becoming faulty, the innocent dog suffers the consequences, these are the consequences of a law that allows greyhounds to be destroyed by use of the inhumane method of the captive bolt pistol. Sadly Defra allows any untrained / unlicensed person to use the bolt gun and this is legal in a country that supposedly has excellent animal welfare laws.
Why are the dogs destroyed?
If a puppy isn't fast enough, has conflict with other dogs or has an injury that affects performance, then he / she will have not made the grade and will be put to death before even beginning a racing career.
If a dog is not fast enough, if he / she sustains an injury that hinders performance, or if a bitch is accidentally impregnated, they may be destroyed as it would be uneconomical to keep a non earner. No longer a working cog in the industry the dog would be using up resources such as kennel space and food that could be used for another dog who could be earning money for the profit maker.
Greyhound racing is a sport, why spoil the fun?
Greyhound racing is a business and it is common knowledge that all businesses put profit first, but when its at the expense of many dogs lives we should question whether it is morally correct regardless of its being legal. Of course while the government rake in taxes the welfare of the dogs will remain subordinate. Could this form of entertainment not be replaced with another that doesn't exploit animals, and cause suffering and death? Is a quick flutter worth the suffering and death of a greyhound? There are many forms of entertainment which don't exploit animals, it would be much wiser to use alternative entertainment that does not harm animals, rather than one which permits death and suffering of innocent beings. Remember animals don't have a voice and can't make the choice. People who enter into dangerous sports can give their consent, they are not forced into performing and if they sustain an injury or do not perform appropriately they are not tortured or murdered.
But Greyhounds love to race, don't they?
Of course Greyhounds love to run, but there is a difference between them enjoying the freedom to run in a field and being encouraged to race on a track by use of a mechanical lure. Dogs may seem like they are enjoying a race but we must bear in mind what seems is not always what it is.
How Greys are encouraged to chase the mechanical lure.
Dogs are starved for 24 hours before a race. They may be thrown live bait such as rabbits to encourage kill instinct (blooding) which in turn encourages them to chase the mechanical lure. Blooding is illegal but still exists.
Dogs are caged and sometimes muzzled for around 23 hours per day or more. They will have lots of pent up energy and mental frustration that needs releasing. Obviously for these reasons they will most certainly look like they are enjoying the race.
What happens to the dogs when they fall on the tracks, do they have serious injuries?
Unfortunately falls often happen and are sometimes lethal for the dog and also upsetting for the onlooker, who may be unaware of the possibility of a fall, and unprepared to watch such a traumatic event. The tracks are oval to make the race more unpredictable, the first bend being the most dangerous of all and where dogs will crowd together while reaching high speeds of around 40 mph. Crowding is due to the sharpness of the first bend and increases risk of the dogs crashing into one another. Dogs are often thrown into the air before falling on to the ground, or even hurled into the barriers at high speed, before sustaining serious injury. From a broken toe to a broken neck these falls often result in the destruction of the dog. With a more serious fall the dog is undoubtedly always destroyed by the track vet and it would be inhumane to deny any animal euthanasia while suffering such traumatic injuries, but in the event of a small injury the owner can still authorise the track vet to destroy the dog. All greyhound stadiums are bound by law to have a freezer in which they can store greyhound carcasses.
The owner / trainer can legally instruct the track vet to euthanase the dog if he / she feels the injury 'as small as it is', will hinder the dogs career. The decision can be made by the owner / trainer as to whether the track vet euthanases the dog while still at the stadium, or whether to arrange destruction themselves after leaving the stadium. Once again the dogs fate will be decided with profit in mind. It is normally much cheaper for the owner to pay for the track vet to destroy a dog, rather than to pay a private vet, but 'destruction by captive bolt gun' is even 'more economical' for the owner / profit maker.
What about the greyhounds who are re homed?
Due to the vast number of Greys bred each year by the industry, it would be impossible to re home them all, hence according to research done, only a minority are re homed and the majority are killed. Until the general public stop supporting the industry the problem will not be resolved. Many of the Greys that are re homed carry some scars from their racing years. From injuries to their tails where they have been caught in the traps to scars around their noses from wire muzzles that have been used. They may have gum disease or serious tooth decay because glucose powder was rubbed into their gums to help them run faster, many have had broken bones that have been left without surgery. Some greyhounds are given illegal drugs throughout their racing years leaving them with organ damage which may make their lives shorter, others may lack confidence and show signs of low mood; unfortunately some dogs end up being advertised on free advertising websites such as Gumtree, where they may fall into the hands of neglectful and uncaring owners who cause further abuse, there is also the risk of dogs being used for bait by people participating in illegal dog-fighting.
What about legislation to protect the dogs, surely if it's legal it can't be cruel and why doesn't the RSPCA get involved?
The Greyhound racing industry is self governed by the Greyhound Board of Great Britain. Therefore when there is concern about welfare of greyhounds registered to race and the RSPCA are notified by such as a member of public, the RSPCA in majority of cases will pass the duty onto the GBGB. We compare a self regulated industry as similar to a brewery running alcoholics anonymous. It's just not practical and allows them to be a law onto themselves.
We have received statements from many highly experienced veterinary professionals who agree that destruction of greyhounds by intravenous method of euthanasia is most definitely a 'more' humane method of destruction than use of the captive bolt gun. Contrary to this statement we should make it clear that we do NOT believe that any healthy animal should be euthanised regardless of method used, especially one who is put at risk of injury for purpose of entertainment or financial gain.
The Animal Welfare Act 2006 depends on local authorities to employ a warranted officer for protection of greyhounds that are no longer registered to race. As far as we are aware, only a handful of local authorities actually employ a warranted officer. Therefore protection of Greyhounds by the AWA2006 is NOT enforced.
The big question is, will you support the racing industry with your money?