The American Veterinary Medical Association defines animal welfare as "…a human responsibility that encompasses all aspects of animal well-being, including proper housing, management, nutrition, disease prevention and treatment, responsible care, humane handling and, when necessary, humane euthanasia."
From birth through retirement, greyhound care is a top priority for the greyhound racing community. People who choose greyhound racing as a career do so because they love the dogs and enjoy working with them. The number of greyhound owners who become wealthy in the sport is relatively small. Many breeders rely on other jobs for their primary income, but remain in the sport because they cherish their connection to these exceptional dogs.
Most greyhound farms are family operations, and some have been in the greyhound business for two or three generations. Each new generation raised on the farm learns the lifelong values of responsible stewardship and conscientious animal care.
These values are reflected in the rules and regulations that greyhound racing has enacted to ensure the health, welfare and safety of racing greyhounds.
Greyhound Care on the Farm
Greyhound ownership is very strictly regulated by the National Greyhound Association (NGA), which was founded in 1906 as the industry's official registry. Persons who own a racing or breeding greyhound must register with the NGA. They must agree to accept full responsibility for their greyhound's welfare at all times, or face severe consequences, including possible expulsion from the association. Such expulsion effectively means permanent banishment from participation in greyhound racing throughout the U.S.
The AGC Farm Inspection Program
To ensure proper greyhound care on greyhound farms and in racing kennels at the track, the NGA has established comprehensive animal welfare guidelines based on veterinary recommendations. The guidelines cover virtually every aspect of greyhound care, including:
- Nutrition and diet
- Kennel facilities
- Health management
- Sanitation and disease control
- Operational supervision
Each year, the nation's 300 greyhound breeding farms and kennels are subject to unannounced inspections by the American Greyhound Council (AGC) to verify compliance with the industry's animal welfare guidelines. One full-time inspector travels the country continually. He is assisted by 56 part-time inspectors who are frequently called upon to make unannounced visits to farms in their area.
The inspectors file written reports summarizing their findings. Minor violations are noted and corrected. Those who fail to correct the problems may be temporarily suspended from racing. More serious violations are addressed in hearings before the NGA's governing body. Those guilty of such violations can be banned from the sport for life.
More than 99% of all greyhound owners comply with the guidelines. Fewer than half of one percent of the 2,000 greyhound owners in the country are found guilty of serious violations each year.