Gambling on Greyhound Lives
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Gambling on Greyhound Lives

Follow the adoption of H.K. Edward

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Gambling on Greyhound Lives
Aundrea Marsh

There are plenty of atrocities committed daily in the name of making money, but few strike a nerve in me like those that involve gambling and animals. Luckily for me, there are no horse race tracks or dog racing tracks near my home in Illinois. However, last fall I had an encounter that would shake my faith in humanity.

It had only been two weeks since I had just said goodbye to my beloved rescue dog, Langston, who had serious complications from hip dysplasia. My mom and I were still grieving the loss of our faithful friend, but I could tell my husky, Simba, was lonely. The never ending chaos of my college life couldn't be put on hold, so my mom and I took a day trip to University of Illinois to attend the vet school open house. We were wandering the exhibits when I heard people ahead of us saying something about dogs. I peered around the group in front of me, spotting a group of greyhounds interacting with the crowd. I had never seen a greyhound in person, only on TV or on the internet. I made my way over to ask if I could pet one of the dogs, and no sooner did I kneel down to say hello to a greyhound, I was almost pounced on by another greyhound. I laughed as I hugged the dog. I went to lean back to look at the dog's face, but he leaned forward, putting his head over my shoulder. I smiled. I learned that the dog's registered name was H.K. Edward, but the rescue called him Ed. He was rescued by a group called American Greyhound, and rescued from a racetrack down south. The Indiana based group rescues hundreds of greyhounds from tracks in AIabama and Florida and finds them homes. I looked at the sleek dog, and I knew that he was meant to be a member of our little family. We filled out an application to adopt him before we left. A few weeks later, he came home with us. That was the interesting part.


Ed's first day home, featuring Simba.

We start to really see how neglected he had been on the racetrack. As young dogs, greyhounds get the insides of both ears tattooed with ID codes in dark green ink. The left ear is tattooed in all US racing greyhounds with a 5-digit National Greyhound Association litter registration number and the right ear with 2 or 3 numbers accompanied by a letter. The right ear first one or two digits indicate the month the dog was whelped, and the last number (always a single digit) is the year of birth. After researching Ed's ID numbers on the internet, I found that Ed had raced in 83 races over 3 years, winning only 9.

Another obvious trait is the complete lack of hair on his stomach and the insides of his legs. I also noticed that several of his teeth are broken, and he had several scars on his body. After taking him for a check up with our veterinarian, the severity of the abuse came to light. Some greyhounds, like puppy mill dogs, get the hair on their stomach caustically burned off from the urine in their cages. Even though he's been off the track since August, he still hasn't grown back the hair. His teeth were broken, likely, from chewing on the wiring of his cage. Ed also has one patch of skin on his right rear hip that was blackened when we adopted him. My vet confirmed it was a burn mark, most likely a cigarette burn meant to "spark" him out of the racing gates.

Despite all of these horrible experiences, Ed wants nothing more than to be around humans. He adores attention and follows me from room to room in the house. Despite common myths, most greyhounds are complete couch potatoes. Ed spends most of his day asleep on my bed or on the floor in my mom's bedroom. He does love toys though (especially the squeaky ones)! Most of them are very good on a leash and don't stray from your side. He's incredibly obedient and really just wants to please us.

Ed (right) and Simba (left) took over my bed.

Thousands of greyhounds get euthanized every year after being discarded by the racetracks. They are absolutely wonderful dogs that love people! They may look a little funny, but they are all characters! From his excited little "dance" he does at dinner time, to cuddling closer to me at 2 A.M., it was impossible for this special boy not to wiggle his way into my heart. If you are looking for a loyal cuddle buddy, consider adopting a greyhound! Even if you can't adopt, you can always donate to American Greyhound to help them rescue, rehabilitate, and rehome retired racing greyhounds! If you are the activist type, please write to your legislators if you are in a state that still allows greyhound racing to help us stop the cruelty of racing. Greyhounds should be winning hearts, not races! We shouldn't gamble the lives of greyhounds for a few extra dollars. H.K. Edward may have a forever home with us, but I will keep fighting to help for all the lost greyhounds, current racers, and for the welfare of future racing dogs.


My mom and H.K. Edward (left) and me and Simba (right) on the day we officially signed Ed's adoption papers from American Greyhound.

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