Greyhound racing has had a rocky history in Texas. In 1987, voters approved it as part of a statewide referendum to allow parimutuel betting. Greyhound racing was abolished in 2015, only to return two years later. Now, three race tracks rotate the hosting of a few dozen races each year. One of those tracks is the Gulf Greyhound Park in Galveston County, which now faces allegations that too many dogs were harmed during its most recent season.
Kathryn Eastburn, a reporter for the Galveston County Daily News, says GREY2K USA, an organization that advocates for the welfare of greyhounds, tracks racing across the country, including Texas, where injuries to racing dogs have been a problem.
Recently, the group sent a letter to the Texas Racing Commission, requesting an investigation into the number of dogs put down for injuries at the Gulf Greyhound Park this season.
“43 dogs were injured, 11 had broken legs, 3 were put down for having a broken leg, 1 was put down for having a laceration of the tongue,” Eastburn says.
She says GREY2K believes that’s too many injuries.
“A representative of GREY2K, a guy named Carey Thiel, argues that these tracks are still making a lot of money,” Eastburn says. “They should be required to take these dogs for treatment: if someone there can’t treat them properly, then take them to an emergency vet.”
The number of injuries at Gulf Greyhound Park was not a new phenomenon.
“It wasn’t just a lot this year, it was a lot last year,” Eastburn says. “And that’s not my opinion. That’s the opinion of the president of Texas Greyhound Association, a man named David Peck, who is a breeder and owner of greyhounds,” Eastburn says.
One of Peck’s greyhounds was put down at Gulf Greyhound Park this year.
“He says that his organization was very unhappy with last year’s injury report out of Gulf Greyhound Park and they’re very upset with this year’s report – this is an excessive number of injuries,” Eastburn says.
Racing of greyhounds is subject to government oversight and regulation.
“The Texas Racing Commission oversees Greyhound racing, horse racing – and that’s who the letter from Mr. Thiel was addressed to,” Eastburn says.
The Texas Racing Commission is empowered by the legislature to shut down the track. The commission is also the organization in charge of putting together the extensive injury reports each year, gauging how many injuries happened.
Eastburn says greyhound racing is on the decline in the United States.
“It’s only legal in four states – Texas being one of them, Florida being one of them, and Florida has abolished greyhound racing effective the end of 2020,” Eastburn says. “The vast majority of the remaining tracks in existence are in Florida: it’s a declining industry.”
Written by Brooke Reaves.