Jordan Rivkin

Save the Greyhound: The gruesome truth behind the dog racing industry

Image: Jo Lyons Photography

Jordan Rivkin wants to change the public perception of greyhounds from bloodthirsty racing dogs to the gentle, loving pooches they really are…


Last year my girlfriend and I adopted a rescue greyhound.

We had read much about what wonderful companions greyhounds make, and with the exploitation and abuse these dogs routinely face, we wanted to play our small part in standing up for them.

Our new adoptee, Cali, was the most divine and gentle creature. Everywhere we went people were flabbergasted by her exceptionally placid and friendly disposition. With some sadness it occurred to me that the greyhound’s gentle-natured reputation had failed to precede it.

Sadly, Cali didn’t grace us with her presence for long. Not long after she entered our lives she fell ill and died, aged just 18 months. Septicemia claimed her life, quite possibly a legacy from her brief time at the hands of those who sought to exploit her.

Greyhounds occupy a rather unique space in the canine world. Despite being “man’s best friend”, they are relentlessly over bred, abused, exploited and killed, all in the name of sport.

What a “sport” it is. Run fast or die, that is the cardinal rule of greyhound racing. It’s like The Hunger Games, or a macabre version of Stephen King’s The Running Man, only for dogs.

While being fast does not guarantee “happily ever after”, what of those dogs that are simply too slow? Many are routinely shot or bludgeoned to death, while others, the lucky ones some might say, wind up at veterinary practices only to be drained of their blood before being euthanised. Yep, it gets even more grisly, only here it takes a somewhat vampire-like turn. As most greyhounds have a universal blood type, and their blood is rich in oxygen-carrying red blood cells (part of what enables them to run so fast), they make the perfect donors for blood transfusions. They are both expendable and valuable as spare parts, quite a unique combination.

Many distraught vet nurses have found themselves draining blood from unwanted greyhounds before putting them to sleep. As one vet nurse put it, “When you’re euthanising these dogs, they’re not old dogs, they’re completely healthy, and most of them are still standing there wagging their tails and licking your face while you’re actually euthanising them.”

In fact, the number of dogs that are surplus to the industry is so great that each year veterinary teaching schools are inundated with greyhound cadavers. Some vet students report that you’d be hard pressed to find a non-greyhound among the donated corpses.

This gruesome sport, now illegal in 39 of  50 US states, found itself at the centre of a NSW Upper House inquiry earlier this year. The Parliamentary inquiry heard evidence of routine doping, over breeding, animal cruelty and collusion, despite an effort to clean up the industry after another inquiry over a decade ago.

Vets also claim that the illegal practice of live baiting is still occurring in NSW. This involves the use of animals such as rabbits, guinea pigs, possums, or kittens having their claws and teeth removed so that they can be chased and ultimately mauled, without the risk of injury to the dogs.

The juxtaposition between the horrors endemic within the greyhound racing industry and the nature of the dogs themselves is stark. These are gentle creatures that make excellent family pets. They are wonderful with children, rarely bark, don’t shed, don’t smell, and, despite their reputation for needing lots of room to run, they make for wonderful apartment dogs. They require little exercise and sleep about 17 hours a day.

They are essentially couch potatoes…which is perhaps why I get along with them so famously.


Postscript: If you have a moment, please take a look at the online fundraising campaign for Greyhound Rescue that I have established, an amazing non-profit organisation founded by Janet and Peter Flann. Both in their seventies, Janet and Peter work tirelessly to improve the welfare of greyhounds. They borrowed money in order to do what they could for the dogs and have since rescued and re-homed hundreds of dogs. They are supported by a fantastic network of volunteers and foster carers, and at any given time they care for about 60-70 dogs in either foster homes, kennels or at their home in North Sydney.

Watch Janet and Peter in this 7.30 report on the greyhound racing industry and please consider supporting this campaign NOW.


Jordan Rivkin

Jordan Rivkin is a freelance writer, psychology student and animal-welfare advocate. After nearly two decades in the stock market, he left to complete his 4th year honours in psychology. His main interests are social justice and mental health issues, and he teaches ethics to primary school children in his spare time.


  1. Pingback: Greyhound Racing: Shameful brutality must end now - The Big Smoke

  2. johnjohn said:

    we all have our own truth – I know what I know and what I have seen – dozens of greys taken into the greyhound vet every week to be killed

  3. STB said:

    Just stick to the facts johnjohn. Some are far to quick to take hearsay as gospel. Unfortunately those that oppose racing have learnt to stretch the truth in order to shock the gullible.
    The saddest part is that poorly researched articles such as this, do give the impression that anyone involved with racing is tolerant to animal abuse and the likes…………
    This could NOT be further from the truth.

  4. johnjohn said:

    Not all greyhounds have prey drive – that is why so many are killed, becaue they have been bred as a tatts lotto venture then turn out to be dud. Retractabe leads are perfectly fine for a lot of greys that have no chase instinct, especially if attached to a harness.

  5. Greyhound Lover said:

    The greyhound died of septicemia? Then you should be ashamed of yourself for not looking after the poor greyhound properly, if it had been with a racing trainer, she would have been in great health and the trainer would have the knowledge to spot something wrong the second it started to appear. I feel so sad for all the poor “rescued” greyhounds that were adopted by well meaning pet owners who have no idea about a greyhound’s needs and place the poor greyhound at risk daily in dangerous situations (I see you have a retractable lead for her, which is a NO NO for greyhounds). I hope all trainers will check out all pet owners’ references before they allow their greyhounds to be “rescued” by these idiots.

  6. Patrick Heffernan said:

    Are you kidding? A retractable lead for a dog that has a prey drive. Please learn about the breed before pointing a finger.

  7. Cath said:

    Fabulous article, Jordan. I have 2 ex-racing greys, and couldn’t imagine ever having any other breed of dog. Some of what I see online about the way these dogs are treated breaks my heart.

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