AR-FAQ - #74

#74 What about horse or greyhound racing?

Racing is an example of human abuse of animals merely for entertainment and pleasure, regardless of the needs or condition of the animals. The pleasure derives primarily from gambling on the outcome of the race. While some punters express an interest in the animal side of the equation, most people interested in racing are not interested in the animals but in betting; attendance at race meetings has fallen dramatically as off-course betting options became available. While some of the top dogs and horses may be kept in good conditions, for the majority of animals, this is not the case. While minimum living standards have to be met, other factors are introduced to gain the best performances (or in some cases to fix a race by ensuring a loss): drugs, electrical stimuli, whips, etc. While many of these practices are outlawed (including dog blooding), there are regular reports of various illegal techniques being used. Logic would suggest that where the volume of money being moved around is as large as it is in racing, there are huge temptations to massage the outcomes. For horses, especially, the track itself poses dangers; falls and fractures are common in both flat and jump races. Often, lame horses are doped to allow them to continue to race, with the risk of serious injury. And at the end of it all, if the animal is not a success, or does not perform as brilliantly as hoped, it is disposed of. Horses are lucky in that they occasionally go to a home where they are well treated and respected, but the knackery is a common option (a knackery is a purveyor of products derived from worn-out and old livestock). (Recently, a new practice has come to light: owners of race horses sometimes murder horses that do not reach their "potential", or which are past their "prime", and then file fraudulent insurance claims.) The likely homes for a greyhound are few and far between. JK

Race horses are prone to a disease called exercise-induced pulmonary hemorrhage (EIPH). It is characterized by the presence of blood in the lungs and windpipe of the horse following intense exercise. An Australian study found 42 percent of 1,180 horses to be suffering from EIPH. A large percentage of race horses suffer from lameness. Fractures of the knee are common, as are ligament sprain, joint sprain, and shin soreness. Steeple chasing is designed to make the horses fall which sometimes results in the death of the horse either though a broken neck or an "incurable" injury for which the horse is killed by a veterinarian. David Cowles-Hamar

SEE ALSO: #72-#73