Dog racing is part of the gambling industry in the UK and other countries. In the UK. Dog racing has declined in the last two decades because of the rise of casino gambling. However, there are areas of the country, primarily the south, where dog tracks have remained in business. For example, there are 16 tracks in Florida with an estimated £300 million wagered in ten years. In some US states, such as, Florida and Alabama these tracks remains the main form of gambling as casinos are banned. But where casinos are allowed or are relatively close by, in neighboring states, dog tracks have suffered often to the point of closing.
The races consist of Greyhounds chasing a mechanical lure, usually an artificial bone called a hare, around a track. The hare starts behind the starting traps and as it passes by it automatically triggers the gates to open releasing the dogs. If the dogs catch the lure the race is declared void. Otherwise the first dog whose nose crosses the finish line is the winner. The position of the dogs feet are not taken into consideration and finishes are photographed with close races being decided by a judge after reviewing the photograph. Most dog tracks are sand because it is easy to maintain in proper condition. The greyhound results can be checked live from the homepage.
Greyhounds are generally twice as fast as a human athlete; they can run 480 meters in about 28 seconds. A greyhound can start its career at 15 months old, but they typically reach peak performance at 21/2 to 31/2 years old. The dogs become very excited when racing and must wear muzzles when racing to keep them from turning on other dogs. When their careers are over the best greyhounds are kept for breeding while others may be adopted through various programs. Those not used for breeding or adopted will be euthanized.
Dog racing is governed by state law which varies from not allowed to no regulations at all. In addition to state laws and regulations, most tracks implement their own rules. In order to gain the privilege to race their greyhounds at the track, kennel owners must sign contracts in which they agree to follow the track rules, including those relating to animal welfare. If kennel owners violate these contracts they can lose their rights at the track and even their licenses.
There is concern over the wellbeing of the dogs and life after racing. The National Greyhound Association has established guidelines for animal welfare based on veterinary recommendations that must be followed to be allowed to participate in the sport. American Greyhound Council conducts surprise inspections each year on breeding farms and kennels to enforce compliance with its animal welfare guidelines. Minor violations can be corrected while more serious violations require hearings before the NGA’s governing body. Those found guilty of seriously violating the guidelines can be banned from the sport for life. The industry has the regulations in place for strong self-regulation, but concerns over the welfare of the dogs continue.