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Greyhound racing, or simply known as dog racing, is the act of racing greyhounds around an enclosed track where the dogs pursue an electrically controlled and propelled mechanical hare.
Greyhound racing is a 20th-century outgrowth of the sport coursing which is a game where hounds pursue their hunt by sight, not by scent. The first recorded attempt of racing greyhounds in a straight track was in Hendon, England in 1876 and was performed beside the Welsh Harp Reservoir.
The present industry where the race occurs in an oval or circular track did not emerge until 1919. An American named Owen Patrick Smith or O.P Smith invented the mechanical or artificial hare in 1912. He had an altruistic aim of stopping the industry from killing rabbits and to be able to see ‘greyhound as we see horse racing’.
Smith opened the first professional track at Emeryville, California where it provided stands for spectators to sit on. The arena had to be torn down in February 1920 to make way for the construction of a modern racetrack fitted for the mechanical lure. The first race held in the park took place on the 29th of May in 1920.
Charles Munn, another American, introduced the oval track with the mechanical hare to Britain in 1926. This was done in association with Major Lyne-Dixon, a Canadian who was a key figure in coursing. They eventually met Brigadier-General Critchley and Sir William Gentle who managed to raise £22,000 to launch the Greyhound Racing Association. They fashioned the organization from the International Greyhound Racing Association or I.G.R.A in America.
The association first held its British meetings in the Belle Vue Stadium in Manchester. There were already 40 tracks around Britain by the end of 1927 due to the overwhelming success of the industry in cities and towns around the U.K. The working-class appreciated the nearby locations of the tracks and the evening schedule of the meetings. On-course bookmakers and totalisators were introduced in 1930 which made betting a key ingredient in greyhound racing.
Commercial greyhound racing is characterized by several criteria that can differ for each state and/or country. This can include:
An average of 500 to 1,000 dogs are required to operate a racetrack. Most dogs start their racing career as early as 18 months old and retire at the age of 4 or 5. Greyhounds are extremely sensitive to cold and heat because of their lack of body fat and thin coats.
According to some U.S state laws, adopted greyhounds are required to wear muzzles when they step out into the public. This is because of the misconception that these dogs were bred to chase small animals. But, that is far from the truth. Greyhounds are naturally gentle dogs, but they get easily excited by moving objects because they are sighthounds.
Because of their unique characteristics and personalities, Greyhounds are one of the most exploited dog breeds. Training greyhounds to participate in races can sometimes be a cruel industry. Dog racers keep their hounds in tiny, cramped cages where they get deprived of lives that normal dogs live. They are usually kept inside the crates or kennels for 23 hours a day.
Greyhounds suffer different kinds of injuries on and off the track. Some of the causes of these injuries can result in the hounds getting killed—for example, one hound crashed against the electrocuted fence in one of the race. The most common injury you can find in these dogs is fractured legs. Whenever these dogs go through bad accidents like collisions, they suffer from puncture wounds, muscle tears, ligament tears, joint dislocations and sprains.
These dogs are built for speed, not endurance indicating that greyhounds love running more than racing. Just like non-racing dogs, greyhounds also need long naps, affection and their own playtime.
Because the public came to know about the cruel practices that take place behind-the-scenes, the industry’s days have become numbered. The number of bettors and the amount of wagers in greyhound races has plummeted. Because of the opposition faced by the industry, in the US, 40 states have passed the bill that made dog racing illegal.
Active commercial greyhound racing can be found in Australia, Ireland, Mexico, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, United States and Vietnam. You can witness and bet on a race from most parts of the world.
There are also non-commercial tracks that can be found in Belgium, Chile, India, Spain and the UAE. Most states have banned the practice like Connecticut, Kansas and Oregon. There are also states that have operational tracks but have begun banning races, like Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Texas and West Virginia.
There are virtual sports that offer betting on races without the use actual of dogs. They only use the data gathered from active dogs. There are sporting houses that offer live betting through broadcasts along with betting on simulcast. You’ll find that dog racing is as thrilling as horse racing, without the use of jockeys and whips.