True colors of greyhound racing come out again with news about payments to breeders

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It is predictable and disgusting at the same time – the news that the West Virginia Racing Commission has handed over more than $10 million to greyhound breeders.

This dying industry is being held up to just benefit a few. The casinos could drop racing and hire the employees into the rest of the facilities. But they can’t because some elected officials in states like Florida and West Virginia are in their seats for no other reason than to benefit the few. These officials certainly are not there to represent the public and they certainly do not have any concern for animal welfare.

We should offer our thanks to the elected officials who are pushing for decoupling legislation.

The money being given to breeders could instead help with job training and caring for the dogs in need of new homes when greyhound racing shuts down for good.

And then there’s the breeding. My wife and I know of one couple in our state that has adopted four rescued racing greyhounds who all died of Osteosarcoma, a nasty form of cancer.

We have faced cancers with our rescued greyhounds. And we keep running into people at veterinary hospitals who tell their emotional stories of racing greyhounds with cancer, many at far too young an age.

When I’ve debated the pro-dog racing crowd online, they typically throw out the tired line that other big dogs get Osteosarcoma. My response includes the fact that comparing bad breeding practices with with bad breeding practices is a losing argument – every time.

And we have always argued about inbreeding. The racing insiders call it “line breeding.” But line breeding is just inbreeding on steroids. Every time we adopt a new, rescued greyhound, my wife goes on the racing site and looks up the dog’s lineage.

Way more often than not, she finds family connections to our current and previous greyhounds. And we find the same dogs are regularly listed as the parent or grandparent or great-grandparent of an unending list of dogs.

That’s inbreeding and it’s a small gene pool and both are not what we want. But in greyhound racing, the post-racing career doesn’t matter to the insiders. It’s about the profit motive.

I’ve written about cancer in dogs for many, many years and I’ve researched into the issue – a lot. Now that I have brain cancer, I plan to ramp up my efforts in speaking out against bad breeding that lead to cancers in dogs.

$10 million to breeders? That money could have gone to job training for track employs – as the state legislatures do what they should do today – shut down dog racing. Thanks to a request put in by Grey2K USA, these payments where brought to light.

The money came from the Greyhound Breeding Development Fund. It’s almost too nutty to believe. But we’ve heard enough out of racing to not be shocked.

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9 thoughts on “True colors of greyhound racing come out again with news about payments to breeders

  1. Tom – that old argument about other long-boned breeds having as high a rate of osteosarcoma was finally proven incorrect in Dr. Guillermo Couto’s study some years back: There was a 50% cancer rate in retired racers vs. 15% in AKC greyhounds. Half of the cancers were osteosarcoma. Of the 900 AKC greyhounds in the study, none had osteosarcoma. They found no bleeding issues in the AKC greyhounds and no corns, which as most of us know are fairly common in retired racers. This information was revealed in a presentation by Dr. Couto in November, 2009, so it’s not new information – it’s been known for a long time. Next time you are debating a PR person about racing greyhound health, be sure to bring this up!

    I hope you are doing well in your battle against brain cancer. We need you and your excellent blogs about greyhound racing.

  2. Your post was spot on excellent, Tom. You and your voice for the greyhounds are so welcome.

  3. all purebred dogs have some type of congenital disease. When you have a limited gene pool, whatever problems are out there just keep increasing with each generation. AKC greyhounds may not have osteosarcoma, but many suffer from myelopathy. Other breeds suffer cardiomyopathy, epilepsy, and a multitude of other congenital diseases. Plus, AKC greyhound numbers are very low compared to NGA dogs which keeps the congenital disease genes at a minimum. I’m not pro greyhound racing, or pro any sport where gambling is involved and/or pain is inflicted on an innocent animal. However, to say all racing greyhound breeders, or any dog breeders, are irresponsible, is wrong. There are breeders who care about their dogs. I have a retired racer who has osteosarcoma, and I HATE it. But I also had a Doberman die at 6 of cardiomyopathy, and another die of cancer. I could fill a page with diseases that my purebred dogs inherited and died from over the years. We all need to work towards curing these diseases. It doesn’t matter what registry they come from. Please be fair to those people who actually care about the dogs they’re breeding. We can eliminate greyhound racing by other means.

  4. NGA Greyhound breeders breed strictly for speed – not longevity. I had Dobermans before I started doing greyhound rescue in 1992. All my Dobermans had health issues so, yes, I know there are problems across the board. I’m not saying all breeders are bad, but to breed for one single aspect and to ignore all other genetics is inexcusable.

    Mixed breeds are my preference.

  5. I agree with Judy regarding the greyhounds. Bred for speed and prey drive. Limiting the gene pool perpetrates osteo.

    However, I am most definitely not a fan of the AKC either. They have mutated breeds far from their original state, limiting the gene pool again, to produce what they see as the perfect in that breed. I see that in the GSDs with their weak, sloping backs and the increase in degenerative myelopathy.

    Inbreeding is inbreeding. Reintroducing bad genes over and over. To me, that is not really caring about the dogs’ well-being. That’s caring more about the wallet.

    My mixes lived long healthy lives because there was no ulterior motive. More like accidents.

  6. Several points to make:

    The AKC is way down the list of experts on dog breeding. In fact, I wouldn’t put it under the category of expert.
    Any organization that fights against anti-puppy mill regulations does not have the best interests of dogs at heart.

    On the subject of greyhound breeders – anyone who participates in greyhound racing is part of a terrible industry that kills dogs and injuries dogs in huge numbers every year.

    It is a horrible industry and those who take part in it can’t claim “well I’m an okay guy” as an excuse.

    Thank you to everyone who is contributing to the discussion.

  7. Tom,

    I’m interested to learn how you tied different lineages of your hounds together, as our adopted 6 year old grey has been diagnosed with anal-sac carcinoma. Unfortunately it has metastasized. His racing name was Pat C. Mission. Any insight would be appreciated. Thank you very much in advance.


  8. Hi Andrew, so sorry to hear of your dog’s illness. We lost a rescued greyhound to lymphoma last year. You can research lineages at (a free account is required). Click on the “dog search” tab and enter the racing name without punctuation: Pat C Mission. When you don’t know the racing name, you can search on tattoos. The results include lineage and race history.

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