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The Economics of Dog Racing

First, I couldn’t see Fast Food Nation yesterday because I worked with a client until 8pm, and promptly passed out moments later. I hope to see it this evening and write about it tomorrow.

While walking Charles and Violet yesterday, a neighbor stopped to admire their gorgeousness. She often pets them and talks to them and just adores them and always tells me how wonderful I am for adopting ex-racers, as she knows what hard lives they have. AND THEN, she says:

I tell you, whenever I go to the track, I just can’t watch the races. I close my eyes the whole time. I have to get a drink just to get through the experience.

Let’s deconstruct the economics of dog racing:

  • Greyhound racing is legal in 14 states, with the most tracks and breeding facilities–by far–in Florida.
  • Tens of thousands of Greyhounds are created ("bred") each year, for the sole purpose of making someone money by racing (and winning, and if they don’t, they are killed if someone doesn’t bring them to a rescue group).
  • Greyhounds are fed 4-D meat (meat from, dead, dying, diseased, and disabled cow and horses), condemned by the USDA for human consumption, because it’s cheaper.
  • Greyhounds spend 18-22 hours a day kenneled.
  • The only reason the industry is still alive, is that people keep going to the tracks.
  • Slot machines, poker, and other gambling are subsidizing the industry and keeping it alive, and many people (who aren’t quite conscious, apparently) who don’t approve of dog racing, go to the track to gamble.

Regardless of what your reason is for going to the track. Once you’re there and spending money, you’re supporting the further abuse of Greyhounds and you are keeping the industry alive. That is a fact of economics. Therefore, my neighbor who adores dogs and doesn’t approve of racing them, is nevertheless supporting the industry by going to the track and buying a drink to get herself through the race.

What you can do:

  • Go to to learn more about Greyhound racing, and then support them with a financial contribution. They are our best hope, as they exist for the sole purpose of ending racing.
  • Talk to your friends and family members who go to the track–particularly the ones who are convinced that they aren’t contributing to the abuse of dogs because they go for the poker, not for the races. Sometimes people don’t realize they’re compartmentalizing, and with some gentle nudging, they have an "ah-ha" and never return to the track. Other people are longer-term projects (I’ve got a couple of them), but don’t give up on them.

The only reason ANY industry is alive, is because there is a market for its goods or services. The same is true for Greyhound racing. Take away their patrons altogether, and the business folds. It’s that simple.

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