Words by Smiley Team
The often controversial greyhound racing is on its way out in the United States.
Following years of advocacy from organizations like the Humane Society, and GREY2K, a non-profit that fights for greyhounds, the practice of greyhound racing is only legal in nine states with active race tracks in four of them. This is down from more than 50 tracks spread across 19 states in the 1980s.
By the end of 2022, there will most likely only be two remaining greyhound tracks in the country, both in West Virginia, a state that seems intent on keeping the sport.
“With the Florida vote, and with the Arkansas decision, it’s now clear that greyhound racing is going to completely end in the United States,” Carey Theil, executive director of GREY2K USA, told PEW.
Theil’s statement followed the passing of Florida Amendment 13 which led to the total ban of the sport in the state, a state which at one point was a mecca of sorts for it. That ban led to the closing of 11 tracks which constituted about two-thirds of the remaining tracks at the time.
In other states like Iowa, the dog racing industry was being propped up by subsidies funded by casinos. As other gambling options have opened up casinoes have stopped providing funding to the dog tracks.
At its peak in 1991, the industry generated over $4.5 billion in revenue. That number was down to $500 million in 2014 and has gotten even smaller since.
Detractors of the sport often site the conditions that the dogs are kept in. Long time practices like killing dogs that underperformed, and feeding dogs performance enhancing drugs were brought into the forefront. The animals were also often kept confined for long periods of time and pushed to the brink physically during races.
One of the more recent cases highlighting the abuse came to light when January 5, 2022, Iowa greyhound breeder Jon Stidham pleaded guilty in federal court to illegally selling hundreds of thousands of doses of performance-enhancing drugs for greyhound racing dogs.
“This has become one of the signature animal welfare debates of our time,” Theil told TIME.
SUPPORT NOW: Check out the nonprofit GREY2K. They’re working to inform and fight for greyhounds, as well as help rehome dogs that find themselves sheltered after areas shut down their tracks.