Greyhound racing in and of itself is not considered cruel to the dogs and the act of racing on a soft dirt track does not seem at all cruel to the dogs when you watch a race. Greyhounds love to run and the idea of chasing a mechanical rabbit around a track at high speeds is something a greyhound would have no problem doing. The problems start to arise when you realize that most dog owners have many dogs and caring for, and housing, a lot of dogs can be a problem and many greyhound owners find the expense of caring and keeping their animals to be excessive. But it is part of the game and they pay the fees to stay in the race. There are other problems that surround greyhound racing as well which include what to do with dogs that are unable to race and then what to do with the dogs that are too old to race. Greyhound racing is legal in all US states except for 7 and in each state there are laws in place regarding the treatment of greyhounds that race. In the United States greyhound racing dogs live at the track in crates that are 3 and half feet wide by 4 feet deep by 3 feet high. The front door of a greyhound crate is a cage which many people suspect the dogs spend a great deal of time chewing on as many retired greyhounds have damage to their gums that cannot be explained any other way. The dogs live in these crates and are only let out to train and to race. To me it almost seems like a life spent in prison.
Greyhounds that race do not fall under the federal Animal Welfare Act so much of the treatment of the dogs is determined by the state legislators and the greyhound racing industry itself. Usually a greyhound racing track will make an owner sign a contract that outlines guidelines for care of the dogs and if the owner is ever found in violation of these guidelines he or she will be punished which could include a fine or even possibly the loss of his or her racing license. Money is the motivation to a greyhound owner so the prospects of losing their racing license is usually enough to force owners to at least adhere to the bare minimum rules of treatment of their animals.
This is a far cry from the way greyhounds are treated in Australia. In Australia greyhound treatment is closely regulated and the attitude towards the racing dogs seems very different in Australia. The dogs are checked regularly for disease and any other maladies and they are kept in a running yard during the day so that they may get exercise and remain happy and healthy dogs. The Greyhound Racing Authorities in Australia even run an adoption agency for greyhounds that can house dozens of greyhounds a month that are actively put up for adoption.
Conditions in the United States are improving and greyhound adoption agencies are doing tireless work to try and find homes for retired greyhounds and for greyhounds that cannot race for whatever reason. Hopefully the positive advances in the treatment of racing greyhounds continues and the United States tries to make itself a model to the world for the ethical treatment of greyhounds.