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The Abuse of the Greyhound.

When I was asked to write about the abuse of the Greyhound I didn't really know how to begin. Not because I couldn't think of anything to say, there is an abundance of things to say about the way that these poor dogs are mistreated. It was more like a feeling of, "well, doesn't everyone know already?" Then I realised that most people don't know at all. They have no idea what goes on in the Greyhound racing industry. That's what it is, an industry. The dogs are no more than money generating machines to be used to create wealth for their owners, and when they are no longer winning and making a profit they are discarded like a worn out machine, and a new one is obtained.

Having spent the last 20 years or more in dog welfare generally, and Greyhound welfare specifically, I tended to think that everyone must have seen all the things that I have seen. Things like the pair of beautiful brindle Greyhound bitches that we found tied to a tree with a hole through their chests courtesy of their "caring" owner and his 12-gauge shotgun. Or the mystery of the Greyhound lying on a seclude part of the beach with a 2ft by 2ft paving slab tied to her neck. She had been drowned but the sand where she lay was dry. Then we realised that she had been left there, unable to move until the tide came in and killed her. We have found dogs with their ears severed and left to bleed to death. Racing Greyhounds have tattoo marks in their ears to identify them and whom they belong to, so their owner had cut off their ears so that he could not be identified.

Why do they do this? you ask. They do it because a shotgun shell is cheaper than the 30 or so that the vet would charge to euthanase the no longer wanted dogs, and that's all that matters to these men - money! A handy paving slab costs nothing and a sharp knife little more. There is a wealth of information available on the internet on websites like my own, www.greyhoundmuses.com

You will probably say, "oh, he must be exaggerating, surely not all the Greyhound racing fraternity treat their dogs like that." No, not all of them do. There is a minority that actually keep their retired Greys for the rest of their life, but they are indeed a very small minority. A Greyhound is at the end of his racing "career" at about four years old, some even younger. A Greyhound can live to be 15 years old with ease. We have one at home and she is 17 years old, and looks set for a while yet. That's a long time to keep a business asset that is not producing isn't it? Now do you see why it is only a minority who keep their retired dogs as pets?

When I first became interested in the sorry plight of these adorable dogs I thought that the answer was to donate money to the rescue charities who are trying their hardest to find homes for the Greys that they hear about, and to start up more home finding schemes etc. They do a wonderful job and I don't mean to be-little their work in any way whatsoever, but I didn't realise the size of the problem and the numbers involved. It is estimated by reliable sources that about 30,000 Greyhound puppies are born each year, mainly in Ireland, to replace the racing stock at the tracks in England and Ireland. About a third of these are killed within weeks because it becomes clear that they will not be suitable for racing. Thousands more fail their racing trials later on and are subsequently killed, or if they are almost but not quite good enough, they may end up in spain where the requirements are not as high. These poor souls really have drawn the short straw. The animal welfare policies in spain are almost non-existent, and what becomes of these unfortunates is told in full on www.greyhoundsinneed.co.uk My word processor program keeps trying to correct my spelling of the word spain by inserting a capital S, but it is not a mistake on my part and I intend it to stay the way it is spelt.

Now can you see why the only answer, and the only way we can help these dogs is a complete ban on Greyhound racing. In the meantime, the rescue charities are doing their very best and we would be even worse off without them. I am a member and supporter of several of them myself, but they can barely scratch the surface of this massive problem that is based on and fed by the greed of man. My wife and I have 6 Greyhounds and an old Lurcher here at home with us, and I can tell you from first hand experience that they are the most loving, devoted and grateful breed of dog you could ever have the privilege of caring for. They are the best dogs in the world.---The magnificent Greyhound.

By the way, a Lurcher is a Greyhound crossed with something else, usually a Collie but it can be anything.

John Ratcliffe.


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