Though shocking, his is not an isolated case. Just last year, traces of drugs were detected in hair and urine samples of four other racing greyhounds. Cocaine makes the dogs ‘hyperactive’, which pushes them to run faster. But the drug also causes tremors, anxiety, and even heart attacks.
Last month, the Greyhound Board of Great Britain (GBGB) ‘severely reprimanded’ an owner whose racing greyhound was tested positive for drugs. According to the Board’s report, the level of drugs detected in the greyhound’s system could indicate that he had been exposed to them for several days, perhaps less, depending on the dosage.
Owner Luke Bird said Sniffing Out was a family pet who was walked in public places where he could have picked the drug up. He was fined £500.
Another case occurred at the Shawfield Stadium in Scotland, where cocaine metabolites were found in two dogs’ systems. The owner was suspended for 12 months and fined £1,500. This same stadium was the location of 3 other cases of drugged racers last year, for which the owners were fined between $500 and £750.
Racing to the grave
Despite laws attempting to control the phenomenon, it seems this practice is becoming increasingly widespread. Animal welfare experts say efforts to clean up the industry are failing, and that drugs are contributing to deaths.
In 2017, 15,500 controls were made on greyhounds that took part in over 400,000 races. Of these, hundreds of them suddenly died on the track or were subjected to euthanasia after racing.
“You have to question how many of the 56 that died a sudden death on track and the 307 dogs put to sleep – deemed unsuitable fir homing – were damaged by drug,” said Trudy Baker, of the Greyt Exploitations group. This organisation is asking the government to appoint an independent body to enforce the Animal Welfare Act in greyhound racing, rather than continuing to let the GBGB regulate itself.
“These graceful creatures deserve more than being treated as inanimate gambling chips,” she said.