Effective January 1, 2011, dog racing will no longer be legal in the state of New Hampshire thanks to HB 630.
New Hampshire House Bill 630 makes live dog racing in the state illegal, but allows race license holders to run simulcasts of races underway in other locations.
The New Hampshire ban follows one in Massachusetts that took effect January 2010. This was Massachusetts’ second try at passing legislation to outlaw the sport. A similar bill, submitted in 2000, didn’t gain enough voter approval to pass.
According to the Humane Society of the U.S. (HSUS), more than 800 injuries to racing dogs were reported in Massachusetts from 2002 through 2008. In addition, the animals were confined to small cages for at least 20 hours a day.
According to GREY2K USA, since 2001 commercial dog racing in the U.S. has been cut in half.
There are two main reasons for the waning number of active dog tracks:
- Efforts by organizations like the HSUS, the ASPCA and GREY2K USA to promote legislation to outlaw the sport.
- It is no longer the financially lucrative operation it once was. Casinos are overtaking other gambling venues like dog and horse racing tracks.
In 38 states, dog racing is illegal. In five states (Colorado, Connecticut, Kansas, Oregon and Wisconsin), there are no longer any open dog tracks or live racing, but no legislation has been passed to ban the sport.
That leaves seven states in which commercial dog racing remains legal and active. Those states are:
- West Virginia
Why Outlaw Greyhound Racing?
It seems the use of animals for human entertainment and financial gain goes hand-in-hand with animal abuse and neglect.
Those of us who love, admire and respect animals can’t imagine viewing living creatures as objects designed solely for our amusement or to fatten our wallets.
I’m sure there are greyhound breeders and trainers who do what they can to enrich the lives of their dogs, but the industry as a whole is inherently cruel to the beautiful animals it exploits.
- Over breeding. The greyhound industry is known for producing tens of thousands of animals each year -- many more than will ever run a race -- in its quest to breed winning dogs.
Thousands of ‘used up’ or aged-out greyhounds at racetracks and thousands more young, healthy ‘surplus’ dogs -- products of over breeding -- are disposed of each year. The lucky animals are euthanized by veterinarians. It is not unheard of for dogs to be killed by gunshot, bludgeoning, starvation or abandonment when they are deemed no longer useful or not fit to race.
According to the ASPCA, a percentage of dogs considered unfit for racing are also sold to laboratories for use in experiments.
- Inhumane treatment. Racing dogs live their lives at the track and spend non-racing hours (20 or more per day) in double-stacked cages only large enough to stand up in. The cages are housed in warehouse-type kennels. Many of these enclosures are neither heated nor cooled, so dogs are exposed to searing temperatures in the summer and bitter cold during winter months, depending on the climate.
The average number of dogs housed this way at a single racetrack is over a thousand.
Racing dogs are fed the least expensive protein available. According to GREY2K USA, the meat these animals are fed is coded ‘4-D,’ which means it is sourced from disabled, diseased, dying and dead livestock.
Racing greyhounds typically compete at more than one racetrack during their careers. Professional drivers transport large numbers of dogs from track to track in cramped conditions. Some animals travel across the country in unventilated trailers or vans. These inhumane conditions can cause dehydration, exhaustion and weight loss. Dogs have been known to die en route on long journeys.
Industry-bred greyhounds are not properly socialized and have little opportunity to enjoy normal canine experiences. Interaction with humans is limited.
The lifespan of a companion greyhound is around 13 years. But since the career of a racing greyhound averages three and a half to four years, and it isn’t uncommon for a racer to be retired as young as 18 months, only dogs adopted as pets get a chance to live out their full natural lives.
- Health risks. Fleas, ticks and internal parasites are a common problem, and contagious respiratory diseases can sweep quickly through the close quarters of a racetrack dog kennel.
Greyhounds are designed to run and they love to, but nature didn’t intend for them to run on tracks that are not in good condition. Every year thousands of dogs are seriously hurt during races. Typical injuries include:
- Broken legs
- Broken necks
- Cardiac arrest
- Severed toes
- Spinal cord damage
Dogs are also raced on the hottest days of summer and the coldest days of winter, increasing the risk of injury.
Some trainers have been caught giving performance-enhancing drugs to racing dogs. In one Wisconsin case, a greyhound trainer was filmed injecting several dogs with what state officials determined was an anabolic steroid. In Florida, over 100 dogs tested positive for cocaine at racetracks between 2001 and 2003.
How You Can Help
- Don’t patronize dog races.
- Talk to your family and friends about the reality of the greyhound racing industry.
- If you live in a state that either still has active dog racetracks or one that has not yet made the sport illegal, write to your state officials to encourage anti-dog racing legislation.
- Contact the HSUS, the ASPCA or GREY2K USA to join their public awareness and legislative efforts.
- Consider adopting a retired greyhound. Despite their rocky start in life, they are known to make wonderful pets. A list of national and state adoption organizations can be found here. Adoptable dogs can also be found at local rescues, animal shelters and through Petfinder.com.
If you’d like to know more about greyhounds as a breed and what to expect if you adopt a retired racing greyhound, you can find lots of good info at Adopt a Greyhound, The Greyhound Project, Inc.