Greyhound Racing
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 Greyhound racing

Greyhound racing is the sport of racing greyhounds. The dogs chase a lure (traditionally an artificial hare or rabbit) on a track until they arrive at the finish line. The one that arrives first is the winner.

In many countries, greyhound racing is purely amateur and conducted for enjoyment. In other countries (particularly the UK, US, Ireland and Australia), greyhound racing is a popular form of gambling, similar to horse racing. 


Modern greyhound racing has its origins in coursing. The first recorded attempt at racing greyhounds on a straight track was made beside the Welsh Harp reservoir, Hendon in 1876, but this experiment did not develop. The sport emerged in its recognizable modern form, featuring circular or oval tracks, with the invention of the mechanical or artificial hare in 1912 by Owen Patrick Smith. 

O.P. Smith had altruistic aims for the sport to stop the killing of the jack rabbits and see "greyhound racing as we see horse racing". The certificates system led the way to parimutuel betting, as quarry and on-course gambling, in the United States during the 1920s. In 1926, armed with the Smith patents and a hand shake, it was introduced to Britain by an American, Charles Munn, in association with Major Lyne-Dixon, a key figure in coursing, and a Canadian, Brigadier-General Critchley. 

The deal went sour with Smith never hearing from Munn again. Like the American, International Greyhound Racing Association.    Munn and Critchley 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. 

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

Greyhound racing continues in many countries around the world. The main greyhound racing countries are:

United Kingdom
United States 
New Hampshire
Rhode Island
West Virginia
Colorado -- Racing suspended in June 2008 [2]
Greyhound racing is legal, but not currently conducted, in Oregon and South Carolina.
New Zealand
Smaller scale greyhound racing is ongoing in:

Many European Countries
Macao, China
South Africa

Medical care

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 damage to the gums from chewing on metal cage bars and effects of the low-quality raw meat they are fed. The groups often also find that the dogs carry tick-borne diseases and parasites due to the lack of proper preventative treatments. The dogs require regular vaccination to minimize outbreaks of diseases like kennel cough.

Recently, doping has also emerged as a problem in Greyhound racing. The racing industry is actively working to prevent the spread of this practice; attempts are being made to recover urine samples from all greyhounds in a race, not just the winners. Greyhounds from which samples can not be obtained for a certain number of consecutive races are subject to being ruled off the track. Violators are subject to criminal penalties and loss of their racing licenses by state gaming commissions and a permanent ban from the National Greyhound Association. The trainer of the greyhound is at all times the "absolute insurer" of the condition of the animal. The trainer is responsible for any positive test regardless of how the banned substance has entered the greyhound's system.

Life after racing

After the dogs are no longer able to race (generally, a greyhound's career will end between the ages of four and six), or as soon as they no longer consistently place in the top four, the dogs' race career ends. The best dogs are kept for breeding purposes. There are both industry-associated adoption groups and rescue groups that work to obtain retired racing greyhounds and place them as pets. In the United Kingdom, according to the BBC, one in four retired greyhounds finds a home as a pet.   In the United States, prior to the formation of adoption groups, over 20,000 retired greyhounds a year were euthanized; recent estimates still number in the thousands, with about 90% of National Greyhound Association-registered animals either being adopted, or returned for breeding purposes (according to the industry numbers upwards of 2000 dogs are still killed annually in the US while anti-racing groups estimating the figure at closer to 12,000.).  Other greyhounds are either sold to research labs, or sent to foreign racetracks, sometimes in developing countries.

Several organizations, such as British Greyhounds Retired Database, Adopt-a-Greyhound and Greyhound Pets of America, and the retired greyhound trust try to ensure that as many of the dogs as possible are adopted. Some of these groups also advocate better treatment of the dogs while at the track and/or the end of racing for profit. In recent years the racing industry has made significant progress in establishing programs for the adoption of retired racers. In addition to actively cooperating with private adoption groups throughout the country, many race tracks have established their own adoption programs at various tracks.

In recent years, several state governments in the United States have passed legislation to improve the treatment of racing dogs in their jurisdiction. During the 1990s seven states banned live greyhound racing, though racing has never been banned in a state that has had active racing.