From Academic Kids
Modern greyhound racing has its origins in coursing. The first recorded attempt at racing greyhounds on a track was made at Hendon in 1876, but this experiment did not develop. The sport emerged in its recognizable modern form, featuring circular or oval tracks, an artificial hare as quarry and on-course gambling, in the United States during the 1920s. In 1926, 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. They 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 today
Today greyhound racing continues in many countries around the world. The main greyhound racing and gambling countries are:
- United Kingdom
- United States In the United States there are greyhound tracks in the following 15 states
- New Zealand
Smaller scale greyhound racing is ongoing in:
- Many European Countries
- China (only in Macau)
- South Africa
Treatment of racing dogs
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, the dog are generally provided only enough room to stand and turn around. While living on the track these dogs will spend most of their time in these kennels.
In Ireland and the UK dogs are usually kept by a trainer.
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. In these countries the dogs often live as pets.
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-born diseases from a lack of proper precautions. Due to the dense living conditions in the kennels the dogs require regular vacination to prevent outbreaks of diseases like heart worm and kennel cough. After the dogs are no longer able to run owners often have ex-racing greyhounds killed since they do not want to go through the expense of finding the dogs homes (the ratio of dogs killed versus 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. While the racing industry is actively working to prevent the spread of this practice they only test the winning dogs. Many dogs are still affected negatively by the practice, and rarely tested.
Several organizations, such as British Greyhounds Retired Database, Adopt-a-Greyhound and National Greyhound Adoption Program, try to ensure that the dogs are adopted. Some of these groups also advocate for better treatment of the dogs while at the track and/or the end of racing for profit.
In recent years, several state governments in the United States have passed legislation to improve the treatment of racing dogs in their juristiction.
In areas where greyhound racing does not involve gambling, the dogs are usually pets and therefore generally treated well.
- http://www.worldgreyhoundracingfederation.com, Global Association of all greyhound racing organizations
- http://www.thedogs.co.uk, a British greyhound racing board
- http://www.igb.ie, an Irish greyhound racing board
- http://www.agtoa.com, American Track Operators Association
- http://www.ngagreyhounds.com, the North American National Greyhound Association
- http://www.cgrc-europe.com, Continental Greyhound Racing Federation
- http://www.grl.fi/engl.htm, the Finnish Greyhound Racing Association
- http://www.grv.org.au, Greyhound Racing in Australia Victory
- http://www.greyhound-data.com, Comprehensive database covering greyhound pedigrees, races, stadiums, and adoption worldwide
- http://www.greyhounds.org Greyhound Protection League, a group critical of the racing industry