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    Greyhound Adoption Programme: Rescue and the Achilles Heel of Greyhound Racing
Greyhound Adoption Programme: Rescue and the Achilles Heel of Greyhound Racing

Greyhound Adoption Programme: Rescue and the Achilles Heel of Greyhound Racing

The sporting career of a greyhound does not last long. From 15 months to 3-4 years, the dog participates in races and pleases fans, remaining the main character of dog racing. Sooner or later, the time comes for the last race in her life at the hippodrome, after which the runner is sent into retirement, where a completely different life begins.

Not all retired dogs can expect good living conditions, love, and care. Only a few of them, and such champions as Mick Miller, live in decent conditions. Often, after the end of a sports career, a dog becomes a burden for the owner, especially if he is a gambling person and for him, the animal is only a means of satisfying vanity. Owners sometimes get rid of such runners that have become unnecessary, in the most ruthless way.

The scale of the problem in countries where greyhound racing is part of the industry is staggering. According to the Greyhound Trust, around 8,000 greyhounds retire each year in the UK. This number of dogs needs to be sheltered and cared for somewhere. In Australia, where the greyhound industry generates $335 million in annual revenue in New South Wales alone (australianracinggreyhound.com), six times more greyhound puppies are bred than kennels can actually accommodate.

In the last century, many cases of physical destruction of greyhounds that completed competitions were recorded in the United States. Experiments were carried out on them; they were euthanized or starved in cramped cages, the dogs died in terrible conditions. However, similar things happened everywhere in countries with a developed greyhound racing industry. In 2007, Sunday Times reporters conducted an investigation, the shocking results of which were submitted to the Durham court. It turned out that the 57-year-old merchant-developer killed with a construction pistol and buried on his territory dogs that were brought by their trainers as unpromising. Over 15 years, he killed about 10,000 animals for a fee.

Even before the advent of official greyhound adoption structures, caring individuals were privately rescuing dogs, creating shelters, and placing them with families.

For example, in England back in 1956, Ann Shannon created a shelter for greyhounds and looked for families for them. Under the auspices of the British Union for the Abolition of Vivisection, she covered the whole country with contacts.

Another person who was not indifferent to the fate of the dogs was teacher Johanna Bäumer. In 1965, she found homes for greyhounds from Walthamstraw Stadium in London.

With the development of racing, the problem of dogs released into circulation grew. Groups and societies were spontaneously created to save them. Finally, in 1975, the Greyhound Trust was founded in Great Britain by a group of greyhound lovers. Its main task was to save the lives and health of greyhounds after the end of their sports career. At first, the fund helped to seven hundred dogs a year, now this number has grown to 3,500 a year. Since then, the foundation has found more than 100,000 homes for greyhounds.

Around 1,000 volunteers operate across 50 branches of the Greyhound Trust, almost all of which have kennels for dogs awaiting adoption. The foundation routinely conducts media-involved advertising campaigns, organises charity races, and solicits donations.

In the United States, the largest charitable organisation, Greyhounds Pets of America (GPA), was established in 1987. Even before its founding, individuals associated with the industry sought families willing to provide shelter for dogs. These individuals typically already had a greyhound in their homes, often more than one.

Since its inception, GPA has facilitated approximately 80,000 greyhounds in finding homes. The society's branches are spread throughout the country, with around 300 at the peak of the industry.

All racing states in Australia operate the Greyhound Adoption Program (GAP). Unfortunately, not all dogs find homes due to the surplus in breeding. Trainers and owners spend considerable time on waiting lists to retire their greyhounds from racing.

This overbreeding issue is significant in the industry, making it challenging to select the best runners from a litter. Caring individuals and adoption societies are actively working to address this problem.

In the United States, thanks to the efforts of public organisations and widespread awareness, the problem has been largely resolved. Greyhound racing has been discontinued in all states, with only one commercial track remaining. In countries where the industry is particularly developed, such as the United Kingdom, Australia, and Ireland, racing continues on a large scale. The challenge of retired greyhounds persists on a grand scale, but national programmes are actively working to find solutions.

In the 70s and 80s, there was a misconception about the aggressiveness of greyhounds and the difficulty of keeping them as pets. Adoption programmes have played a crucial role in dispelling this myth through media publications, films, advertising, and personal examples of keeping dogs at home.

Now it's widely known that greyhounds are sophisticated, intelligent, sensitive, and loving dogs. Their sports experience may make them initially ill-mannered due to their focus on competition, but with time and care, they can adapt to a more relaxed "social" life, leaving behind the stress of their sporting past.

Contrary to common fears, owning a greyhound does not require the owner to be an active runner alongside them. Greyhounds are sprinters, not known for endurance. Two 20-minute walks during the day are typically sufficient for them, as they tend to be couch potatoes for most of the day.

A greyhound is neither worse nor better than any other breed that one can keep in their home. The only distinguishing feature is their natural talent for running, which has been exploited for profit. These dogs serve humans well, providing a range of emotions through their athleticism. They certainly do not deserve mistreatment. The efforts of greyhound adoption societies help them find homes, preventing people from descending into barbarism and promoting humane treatment.

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