Whereas there’s little doubt the trade has drastically cleaned up its act for the reason that Nineteen Eighties and vastly improved circumstances and therapy of canines, it’s additionally been rocked by a collection of scandals in recent times. Essentially the most weird—and the one which probably grabbed probably the most headlines—was in 2017, when canines within the care of a Florida coach examined optimistic for cocaine (extra particularly, the canines examined optimistic for Benzoylecgonine, a metabolite of cocaine). All canines that win a race are examined, together with one other canine chosen at random. On this case, a race winner examined optimistic, indicating that somebody had tried (efficiently, it might appear) to present sure canines a aggressive edge.
Profitable has doubts and mentioned that essential particulars of that case haven’t been publicized, together with the validity of the urine samples. “Greyhounds are dropped off for weigh-in and are usually not round their kennel helpers or trainers for anyplace from one-and-a-half to 5 hours earlier than they race. Actually, I don’t purchase any of this. Cocaine is more likely to kill a greyhound that reaches speeds of 45 miles per hour inside its first six strides.”
Whereas “coked-up canines” could seize extra headlines, one other main doping concern for Theil is anabolic steroids.
“Feminine greyhounds are routinely given an anabolic steroid, methyltestosterone, to forestall a lack of race days,” mentioned Theil. The observe is outlawed within the racing trade in different international locations (the UK, Australia, and New Zealand) however continues in the USA. “There are critical well being points associated to using this drug, which by definition enhances efficiency.” Theil famous that the Florida Home and Senate each voted to outlaw the observe, however that “every time, the invoice died through the last days of the legislative session.”
“Over the previous decade there have been greater than 400 greyhound drug positives at Florida tracks, together with greater than 70 greyhound cocaine positives, in addition to optimistic outcomes for novocaine, lidocaine, and the opiates oxycodone and oxymorphone,” mentioned Theil.
Except for the doping, considerations had been raised concerning the canines’ habitats and the way they’re cared for, with some teams (amongst them Grey2kUSA) claiming that the canines are stored in cages for as much as 23 hours a day.
Theil mentioned that “canine tracks require numerous canines to function—in July 2019 alone, 965 greyhounds raced at Palm Seashore Kennel Membership. Due to that, canines are stored in giant warehouse-style kennel compounds, in rows of stacked steel cages with carpet remnants or shredded paper as bedding. And people canines are in these cages for 20 to 23 hours every day.”
That is one other declare that Profitable disputes. “The canines reside their first yr with their litter-mates taking part in and socializing, and so they even have plenty of human interplay on the farm,” she mentioned. “As soon as a greyhound is racing, it solely races as soon as each 4 days.”
Profitable took explicit challenge with the advertisements through the marketing campaign for Modification 13, which confirmed greyhounds in cages and claimed they spent 23 hours a day in a crate. “Kennels at Derby Lane start their first turn-out as early as 4 a.m.—when kennel employees clear and alter bedding whereas the canines spend time within the pen. And that is simply the primary of many turnouts, with the final being round 11 p.m.,” mentioned Profitable. She made the legitimate level that that is “greater than most individuals’s canines are let loose. These canines are athletes. If a canine was abused or confined, it might not carry out properly… A racing greyhound will get common train, a cool-down tub after racing, massages, and is usually checked over by a vet… What a horrible life they reside, huh?”
As anybody who has attended a race can attest, the canines do seem like having fun with themselves, typically straining eagerly towards their handlers as they’re led out to the monitor—one thing else Profitable known as consideration to: “The canines all have totally different inclinations. If a canine doesn’t wish to run, it doesn’t. Nobody could make it run.” A lot in the identical manner some canines bred for searching merely gained’t hunt, not each greyhound is a born racer.