Running for Their Lives
Young greyhounds begin to race at around 18 - 22 months of age. Those with an athletic ability that make it to the track may endure unforgiving training routines and are regularly put at risk of sustaining serious injuries, both before and on race days.
Dogs race in groups of eight at high speed, up to 60 km per hour chasing a fluffy lure. Due to the nature of dog racing, eager dogs can stumble and collide around oval tracks.
They may bump, trip or hit each other, get knocked down, hit rails, posts and the track surface. This results in skin tears, wounds, fractured legs and hocks, severe muscle cramping, trauma and ‘blown toes'.
Many dogs sustain injuries considered ‘career ending' in an industry that has no use for animals no longer able to run. Some may be euthanised, whilst some die from injuries.
Shockingly, official figures show that forty-three greyhounds died or were killed as a result of racing during the 2011 season. Worse still, the true figure is expected to be much higher, as deaths off the track and during training are not recorded.
The true level of injury in the greyhound industry is also unknown and unaccounted for. Race injury reports only reveal known injuries at the time and do not take into account injuries discovered later – or the outcome.
Injuries and deaths in greyhound racing are not ‘accidents', as they are a predictable result of racing.
Making the grade
Each year in New Zealand a large number of greyhounds are euthanised due to having a low prey drive, (uninterested in chasing the lure) being too slow, no longer winners or not suitable for breeding, or because of injuries such as broken hocks and broken legs meaning their racing career is over.
Approximately 800 greyhound pups are born in New Zealand each year, and around 250 imported. While the industry may say that animal welfare is a priority, it does not keep records on the culling rates for surplus-to-need dogs bred in and brought into New Zealand.