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This dog's name is Gidget. And in her industry she is considered “wastage”.

 

Gidget.

This dog’s name is Gidget.

She’s sweet natured, she’s the perfect house guest, and she gets so excited when she’s with people that “her tail wagging nearly takes her into orbit”.

Gidget is an ex-racing greyhound who is currently up for adoption, because in her industry she is considered “wastage”.

What does that mean? Essentially, Gidget isn’t a profitable racer – and if she wasn’t being put up for adoption, she would be euthanised.

Last year, the ABC’s 7.30 Report ran an investigation into the greyhound racing industry in NSW. What they discovered were allegations of widespread doping, collusion, and animal cruelty.

The Australian greyhound racing industry is the third biggest in the world, and Australians spend about $3 billion in wagers on the sport every year. There’s big money involved and that money means there’s a lot of incentive for breeders and trainers to have the fastest dogs. This incentive has led to massive over-breeding in the industry. In fact, 40 per cent of greyhounds born every year in Australia, will never actually race – because they’re not fast enough.

The dogs that win races are profitable, and be used in breeding programs when they start to slow down. The dogs that are too slow to begin with, are considered wastage.

This results in up to 17,000 dogs being killed each year.

Inez Hamilton-Smith from Gone are the Dogs explains, “Greyhounds are seen as commodities and their value relies on their ability to run fast… It is perfectly legal to breed large numbers of greyhounds, in order to try and to get a fast one and then dispose of the rest.”

Animal advocates say that as well as more humane methods of euthanisation, dogs are sometimes shot dead or killed with a hammer to the head. Industry insiders told the 7.30 Report that puppies are sometimes drowned.

“It is perfectly legal to breed large numbers of greyhounds, in order to try and to get a fast one and then dispose of the rest.”

One of the more unpalatable methods of eauthanisation, is the routine practice of draining greyhounds of their blood, before finally letting them die. These dogs are going to be killed anyway, and their blood will be used to treat other sick dogs – but that doesn’t make it any easier for the people who have to kill the dogs.

Veterinary nurse Victoria Luxton-Bain told the 7.30 Report that, “I still remember the first time I had to do it and I couldn’t stop crying … My worst day was we had seven brought in by one person and you just had to do seven, one after the other.”

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“When you’re euthanising these dogs, they’re not old dogs, they’re completely healthy, and most of them are still standing there wagging their tails and licking your face while you’re actually euthanising them.”

Since last year, Greyhound Racing NSW has ramped up its efforts in re-homing dogs after their racing careers are finished – but that’s a lot of dogs to find homes for, and not every dog is lucky.

As well as wastage, there’s the common problem of dogs injured on the track being put down. Injures received when racing, such as fractures, can take a long time to heal – and no one wants the animals to be in pain. (Of course, the dogs wouldn’t have been hurt in the first place, if they weren’t racing at all.)

The tragedy is, there are many hobbyists in greyhound racing. They care for their dogs. They love their dogs.

But ultimately, greyhound racing isn’t just a hobby. It’s an industry.

And because it’s an industry, it’s operated like a business. It has to be.

Lisa White, President of Friends of the Hound – a group committed to rehoming dogs and advocacy – is unequivocal when she talks about the industry.

“Greyhound racing must stop,” she says. “Unfortunately the economic viability of this commercial racing industry requires that profits be valued above the welfare of the dogs.”

Lisa continues, “60 percent of Australians own a dog. Imagine if up to 17,000 Poodles or Labradors were killed annually for our betting entertainment?”

Both Lisa from Friends of the Hound and Inez from Gone are the Dogs say that the attitude towards greyhound racing is slowly changing – both from members of the public, and industry insiders.

But in the meantime, 17,000 dogs are being killed each year – and it would obtuse to argue that breeding animals for entertainment alone, knowing that they will have to die, is anything other than animal cruelty.

Is killing greyhounds for gambling okay? I wouldn’t bet on it.

Here are some of the other beautiful dogs available for adoption through Friends of the Hound.

Greyhounds are not just race dogs. They make devoted family pets, and are suitable dogs for suburban homes and people of all ages. Some organisations working to re-home greyhounds include Friends of the Hound and Greyhound Rescue. There are many more organisations – please feel free to share links in the comments below.

Gone are the Dogs are working to stop the overbreeding of greyhounds; stop taxpayers’ money funding this industry; and stop greyhounds being exported to China, among other issues. To support their efforts, visit Gone are the Dogs here.

If you believe that over-breeding greyhounds is wrong, please share this post to help raise awareness.