world galgo day animal welfare party

Animal Welfare Party

Greyhounds are the second-fastest animals on earth (after cheetahs) so this is why they are used for racing. They have higher body temperatures than any other dog breed, which is why it’s dangerous for them to run in hot weather. Although the racing industry (with vested interests) would disagree, there are huge issues with greyhound welfare. No doubt some greyhounds are well-cared for. But when you make ‘animals a business’, there are usually issues. And lots of them in this case.

Gamblers Anonymous is a bit like Alcoholics Anonymous, where you safely get help for the addiction only known by ‘the banker and the bookie’. It may help to look up welfare issues (also for racehorses, rather than just think of gambling in monetary terms. 

League Against Cruel Sports campaigns for better welfare for greyhounds, and asks people not to gamble on them at racecourses (usually run around an oval circuit, chasing a mechanical hare). In 2022, 99 greyhounds died and almost 4500 dogs were injured, and another 306 died or were put to sleep, outside the course. For higher profits, greyhounds are usually fed cheap food, not given proper medical care and housed up to 23 hours a day without company (or muzzled with another dog, which stresses both out).

Most racing greyhounds retire after 2 or 3 years. If homes are not found (most of the time), dogs end up in shelters or some are even killed and exported to Spain (galgos are often hung from trees if not fast enough or at the end of the season – some are exported to China). Others are sold for dissection or even thrown in the sea. The same happens in Ireland, where greyhound racing is very popular.

Action Against Greyhound Racing is an alliance of organisations that campaigns to get welfare issues heard in parliament, to reduce over-breeding, injuries and deaths to create profits for the gambling industry (self-regulated so dogs are not given the same protection as pets). The speeds at which greyhounds race make injuries very common, especially in hot weather. You wouldn’t walk your dog on a warm day, but dogs have to race up to 40 miles an hour, no matter what the temperature.

won’t greyhounds disappear if not raced?

This is similar to the argument of ‘but if people went vegan, sheep would die out!’ There will always be some who breed greyhounds and ‘happy accidents’ would continue. This ancient breed (the only one mentioned in the Bible) has been around in ancient Egyptian times. They lasted this long, way before greyhound racing was an industry.

greyhound racing is becoming less popular

pointy blinders

pointy blinders!

One stadum in England recently held its last ever race (having held races since 1927). Just like bullfights are closing in Spain due to lack of patronage, the same is happening here with greyhound raicing. The times they are a changin’. One peaceful protestor said the end of racing at the stadium, means no more dogs will lose their lives in a fading industry.

Yet while some places are closing (and Wales’ only remaining racetrack will likely close as the government considers a nationwide ban), in Wolverhampton the council is considering building a new stadium, against massive public opinion. Not only will this go in the oppositie direction (there are only just over 20 racetracks left in England) but the dogs that are over-bred end up in shelters, swelling our over-populated shelters even more, and putting more financial and time pressure on selfless staff and volunteers.

The conditions that the dogs live in are horrendous, and the treatment that they get at the end of it is unbelievable. Northern Ireland animal sanctuary

why sighthounds make wonderful pets

when you share your bed with a whippet

when you share your bed with a whippet!

Greyhounds are one of the most gentle breeds, and make wonderful pets. Obviously if you adopt or foster, ensure your lifestyle is suited. See the pets tag for more information and read this book to keep your dog safe (with info on unsafe foods & garden plants to avoid).

Greyhounds can run very fast (and naturally chase rabbits) so you have to ensure they are well-trained before letting them off-lead. But the good news is that most only need 2 short walks a day as they are naturally quite lazy. They will then ‘behave like cats’ and just curl up on a sofa with you for snuggles!

Greyhounds obviously also haven’t seen roads, so you have to ensure they get proper training, and are kept on-lead near traffic. They also have never seen stairs. Trainer Susan McKeon suggests looking up the increasing amount of ‘secured fields’ that are rented out if you don’t have a secure garden, and you can also download her her free guide on introducing greyhounds to stairs. Read more on positive dog training.

There are heaps of shelters that you can support that rehome greyhounds. Even if you don’t adopt, you could volunteer to help with walking, building work, admin or fundraising. Or join Snuggles Project to knit/crochet comfy blankets, while animals wait for homes. A few good places to support:

Greyhound racing is coming to an end. I have a feeling in 5 years we won’t see any more greyhound racing (former track manager)

One champion of rescued greyhounds is the lovely actress Annette Crosbie (who played Victor Meldrew’s wife in the comedy One Foot in the Grave). She adopted her first ex-racer over 25 years ago and campaigns for welfare changes.

Greyhound racing is a self-regulating gambling business that depends on the uncontrolled breeding and unaccountable disappearance of thousands of dogs every year. That is a situation that is unacceptable and indefensible. Annette Crosbie 

Other celebrities who campaign to end greyhound-racing are singer Leona Lewis, model Twiggy, writer Jilly Cooper and gardener Monty Don.

difference between greyhounds & lurchers?

know your dog the greyhound

Most of us who are not breed experts may not know the differences between greyhounds, lurchers and whippets. So here are nice images and descriptions by artist Dick Twinney so we know the difference!

know your dog the lurcher

Lurchers are cross-bred, whereas greyhounds (and whippets) are purebred pedigree dogs.

know your dog the whippet

Whippets are smaller but have more energy than lazy greyhounds!

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