by Jason Hancock
I have recently noticed an increase of negative, anti-racing propaganda being passed around. I was recently called a dog abuser for supporting greyhound racing. A friend of mine who had never said a word all these years I have been pro-racing spoke up yesterday. I was told that this person was glad I saved Chucky from the racing world. Chucky retired from his long and accomplished racing career this past June. He is a full littermate to Rita, who I have had in my home since May 2012. I contacted his racing owner and was allowed to “pre-adopt” Chucky. That means that the owner agreed to let me have Chucky once his racing career was over. Chucky raced 165 races, many at top grade, and several stakes races at Bluffs Run Greyhound Park in Council Bluffs, Iowa. As far as greyhound racetracks go, Bluffs Run is a very competitive racetrack, and Chucky racing 165 races there is an accomplishment in itself. He graded off the track at Bluffs Run and was moved to Dubuque when it opened in April. He raced another 12 races at Dubuque Greyhound Park before retiring. I have spoken to EVERYONE who was involved in Chucky’s career, and all but the trainer at Flagler in his sister Rita’s career, who also lives with us. I am writing this because I have a personal account about how the racing industry operates and how the people involved in the daily operations in racing care for these magnificent athletes. Because I was told that I rescued Chucky, this is an account of his Chucky’s life thus far……
Greyhound puppies are born on greyhound farms, Chucky and Rita were two of the four born in Janesville, WI on Oct. 1, 2008. They were the result of the breeding of a famous proven sire, Flying Penske and a brindle and white dam named Gotcha Bobbi Jo. Greyhound puppies are unique from any other breed in more than one way. But the most noticeable way is that this litter of 4 puppies will grow and play together until they are around a year old. This litter was given the litter number of 48531 by the National Greyhound Association in Abilene, KS. That number was tattooed in their left ear, along with the numbers 108 and a letter from A-D in their right ear. This numbering system serves as a way to track the individual dogs and to insure that the dog racing is in fact that dog. I have been present during the tattoo process and I can attest that it is humane and I would have no problem helping or watching a litter being tattooed again. Once the litter was about a year old they left for training in Abilene, KS from their birthplace in WI. The litter at this time was down to three. The “B” puppy in the litter injured her leg on the farm and was sent out to adoption at around 9 months old. As the pups grow they begin to play rougher, occasionally they do hurt each other. That fourth pup lives happily with no problems with a family in MO. The three that went to training were sprinted, learned what the lure was, taught how to break the box, and how to behave in the racing world.
During training in Abilene, KS Chucky showed good times and was a strong runner, so he went to Bluffs Run in Iowa. Rita was sent to Victoryland Greyhound Park in Shorter, AL and their sister Abby was sent to Flagler Greyhound Park in Miami, FL. Chucky was by far the best pup in the litter, he raced top grade at Bluffs Run from August 2010 to September 2011. During that time he won a stakes race and made the finals in two other major stakes. Chucky then raced as a solid B/C racer until February 2013. He was moved to Dubuque after grading off at Bluffs Run in March 2013. He gave it his best at Dubuque but at this point in his career he was 4.5 years old and racing against 18 month old pups heading up the grades, Chucky didn’t have the stamina he once did and faded at the end of the race. His trainer in Dubuque is a great trainer who cares about his pups. He talked to Chucky’s racing owner and the decision was made to go ahead and retire him before he had a career ending injury. Chucky is a professional athlete, which is obvious by his career. I am proud of my retired racers past careers, no matter how good or poor they performed. How did he become this amazing athlete?…..partially because of genetics but mainly by being treated with love, respect and tender loving care. Once Chucky’s racing career was over he was not “abandoned” or “thrown away”. The truth is that the owner of his racing kennel paid his neuter and vet fees so that when I arrived in Dubuque to pick him up he was ready. When I picked him up he looked great! He was clean, had no fleas, had been vetted and was very happy in the kennel setting. The people in the racing industry DO care about the dogs! Racing greyhounds are not abused, mistreated nor are they malnourished. My retirees here at home have been called skinny and underfed, because I keep them within no more than 3 lbs over their racing weight.
I have visited MANY kennels at several tracks and in more than one state. I have yet to find a kennel I would not leave my dogs in. I have been on more than one farm; again I have never seen anything that would cause me any concern. There are several trainers and racing kennels with pages on Facebook, look them up and see their pictures…..the dogs are SOOOO happy. If you own a retired racing greyhound and think that your hound was mistreated……do your homework! Go visit a track or a kennel! Bring your dog to a track; see what happens to your laid back couch potato once they hear the lure. You will have a nut case on a leash, who will no longer acknowledge that you exist! It is something they love to do! I will defend the trainers, owners and tracks that I have firsthand knowledge of doing the right thing, and I would call out anyone not doing the right thing…..but so would the trainers who do right. There are some great people in this industry, and a lot of great dogs!!! I have thanked everyone involved in Chucky and Rita’s career, and I will do it again! And to complete the litter, Abby had a short racing career in Miami and was retired and lives with a family in FL.
Once last thing; Retired racing greyhounds are not rescued, they were not mistreated and ate better than most humans. My dogs are adopted, more like they adopted me truthfully! Thank you to all involved in the greyhound racing industry!