The history of the greyhound is one of a noble dog that was, for centuries, only allowed to be kept by kings and nobles and in the beginning of the 20th century was degraded to a racing machine. Thus the greyhound was one of the first breeds of dog to be mass bred. Dog racing became rapidly big business. There could never be too many greyhounds. Until a few years ago still 20.000 pups were registered in Ireland although the actual number of births is much higher, but those puppies which are not meeting the expectations – approximately 14.000 pups - are immediately eliminated.
Many people think that racing dogs live their lives as top class athletes do, being extremely well looked after, having a well-balanced diet, having their injuries treated etc. But greyhound trainer, David Hayward, states: “the dog has no quality of life. It remains continuously in a kennel coming out only to go to the race track”. The normal life expectancy of the greyhound is 14 years but most of the dogs are burnt out by the time they have reached 2 1/2 years old whereby they are relentlessly removed from the race tracks. The trainers like nothing better than to have new dogs on the track each season. The animals are fed cocaine, amphetamines, angel dust and anabolic steroids from which at the end of a glorious season the majority of them remain toothless and weak. The 30.000 used dogs per annum are for payment for their loyal racing services ruthlessly dumped. A great number of them find their ways to the vivisection table where they are muzzled and exposed to the most horrifyingly painful experiments with death as the result. There could be no more miserable finale for a life of dedication, hard work and loyalty to its master. In this way another 20 pounds can be earned from the dog.
Until a few years ago some of the discarded greyhounds were sent to Spain with a one-way ticket. Annually approximately 1000 greyhounds were transported from Ireland to Spain where they found themselves on the race tracks. They remained there till the end of their live in miserable conditions. They lived crowded together in dark cages or in boiling hot sheds. The wooden cages were piled up one on top of the other and the animals urinated on each other and were drinking each other’s urine. The food was thrown in the group and the fastest one could eat and the others had to do without. The dogs ran themselves literally to death and were sent out to race with injuries and bruises to their legs. Dogs that were not running fast enough were punished by pulling out their paws or breaking their legs. Most of the greyhounds died of their injuries because they did not receive any veterinary treatment. Dogs that no longer performed satisfactory were shipped over to Mallorca where there was even a race track for handicapped greyhounds; those who came from the continent were mostly injured or cripple. Due to the intervention of GINB, the only organization with whom the management of the Meridiana race track wanted to cooperate, the last race track in Spain was closed down in February 2006. Many of the 600 remaining greyhounds from that track are now living with adoptive families in Belgium.
In the rest of Spain even more horrible methods are practised. There the victim is the “galgo español“that like the greyhound kept kings and princes company for centuries and like the greyhound common people were not allowed to keep them. As soon as this changed the galgo became common property just like the greyhound with the resulting consequences. At the end of each season thousands of Spanish galgos that do not earn money on the national championships, the hunting track or the illegal races in gipsy circuits are killed. The way in which this happens depends on the achievements they had during their racing life. Lesser achievers are suffering a more atrocious death than those who achieved more. Some of them are hung, some often burnt alive, and others have sticks pushed into their ears or are tied to cars and dragged along at high speed. It is known that others are sold at the end of their racing career to fishermen where they become live bait for shark fishing. Some are even used as “moving target” by pit bull trainers for their fighting dogs and are brought in a small arena together with the pit bulls. The result is obvious, when the fighting dogs can catch the galgo it is torn apart and in most cases does not survive the injuries. Others are poured with acid and are found with horrible burning wounds. Some are fed gasoline with a funnel, then their intestines are put on fire and they die a terrible death.
We cannot imagine how sadistic and barbaric the practices can be of which the galgo is the victim. For the Spanish this is a kind of tradition. People who pretend that these practices belong to the past do not know what they are talking about.