Many people view greyhound racing as a harmless activity or a fun family day out. After all, the dogs like to run, right? And what could be more enjoyable than taking in the race day atmosphere, watching the dogs in action on the track, and perhaps betting on one of them to win?

Sadly, the reality behind the greyhound racing industry is much darker than the glamour and excitement of a race day might suggest. According to GREY2K USA, the leading anti-racing campaign group in the U.S., dogs in this industry are forced to endure “a system of confined housing, the use of anabolic steroids to prevent estrus in female greyhounds, ‘4-D’ meat as a primary food source, and the disposal of unprofitable dogs. In addition, many greyhounds suffer serious injuries and sometimes die while racing.”


Greyhounds can be kept in cages for twenty hours per day, only being let out to relieve themselves or practice racing. The standard minimum cage size is 32 inches high, 31 inches wide, and 42 inches deep: often too small to allow large greyhounds to stand up. The many tragic stories of dogs who were rescued from the industry attest to the cruelty that they often endure at the hands of their owners, and how they can be so callously discarded as soon as they become too old or ill to race.

Former racing dogs have often been found abandoned, killed, or horrendously mistreated once they are past their prime. In one particularly heartbreaking case back in January, a greyhound named Emily was found close to death in a ditch in Co. Tipperary, Ireland. The tip of her tail had been cut off and the identification tattoos on her ears burned out with acid so that the cruelty she had endured could not be traced back to the person who once owned her.

An Irish photographer named Hannah Fleur McCarthy is now seeking to raise awareness of this problem by taking beautiful portraits of former racing dogs. To date, one of the portraits has been released and was shared by the Greyhound Rescue Association Ireland (GRAI).

The soulful expression in this dog’s eyes highlights the inherent cruelty of treating these animals as nothing more than profit-making machines.




This picture is part of a series of portraits shot by McCarthy at Clare Greyhound Sanctuary, which cares for former racing dogs who have been discarded by the industry. The sanctuary frequently shares pictures of dogs they have rescued, in the hope of helping them find a loving forever home. You can find out more about them here, and learn about the amazing work of GRAI here.

McCarthy is planning to exhibit more photos from her greyhound project at The Steambox Gallery, Dublin, from April 21st to 28th. Further samples of her work can be seen on her Facebook page or website.

To learn more about the sordid truth behind the greyhound racing industry, and why you should never buy a ticket to a racing event, check out the articles below.


Image Source: Hannah Fleur McCarthy/Facebook