Wednesday, October 7, 2015

Greyhounds Run Into the Ground at Mexico Track

Three weeks ago, GREY2K USA Board member Charmaine Settle inspected Agua Caliente, the only greyhound racetrack in Mexico. Her inspection follows similar visits to greyhound tracks in Macau, Vietnam, New Zealand, Australia and Argentina.

Caliente is owned by Jorge Hank Rhon, the controversial former major of Tijuana. Throughout his life Rhon has been plagued by scandal. He has been accused of having links to organized crime, being connected to the murder of an investigative reporter, and participating in the trade of illegal wildlife.

Agua Caliente races dogs that are bred in the U.S. and shipped across the border by American greyhound breeders. Julia Ward, the current President of the National Greyhound Association, is one of the largest owners of dogs currently racing at the Tijuana track.

Here are some of Charmaine's thoughts about what she saw:
"Caliente is a very large, modern facility which houses a casino and simulcasts of various sports, with dogs racing outside. Flamingos and white swans greet you when you approach the massive entrance and when you get inside, large paintings adorn the walls on  your way to the casino."
"The kennels, which are within steps of the casino on the same property, are run down and neglected. This juxtaposition was striking, and unsettling. It continued to bother me long after I had left."
"If you walk out of the track and continue down a ramp to the left you begin to hear all the dogs barking and can see, through trees, a shantytown where the dogs live."
"The kennels looked terribly old, crumbling and dilapidated with some of the roofs looking like they were about to cave in. The kennels appeared to have no windows letting in any light or fresh air. With temperatures approaching a hundred degrees, I can't imagine how hot and miserable the poor dogs must be while they suffer in the confines of their cells."
"I asked questions, and was told that about eighty dogs were used for the matinee that day, and each dog races about three or four times per week."
Sadly, the information Charmaine was provided about race frequency at Caliente appears to be accurate. According to an analysis by GREY2K USA Research Director Matt Read, greyhounds routinely race on little rest at the Mexico track. For example, a dog named Coach Hero has entered in a shocking 413 races since 2011. Nearly half of his races occurred after he received only a single day of rest, and nearly three-quarters of his racing starts occurred after he received two days or less. An examination of other dogs competing at the track shows that Coach Hero isn't the exception. When it comes to racing on little rest, he's the tragic rule.

Coach Hero also highlights the fact that Caliente is a place where American greyhound breeders dump dogs. Even though he's racing in Mexico, Coach Hero is owned by Greg Geter, a top recipient of state dog race subsidies in West Virginia.

A photo Charmaine took of the Caliente kennel compound
Racing dogs on little rest is inhumane and irresponsible. It increases the risk of injury, and can cause a disorder named exertional rhabdomyolysis, in which skeletal muscles begin to break down. According to industry handbook Care of the Racing and Retired Greyhound, this disorder appears in overworked greyhounds, which it defines as "two to three races or trials per week."

The American greyhound breeders who are sending dogs to race in Mexico, including NGA President Julia Ward, should be ashamed of themselves. The very existence of this low end track, where greyhounds are run into the ground, is another reminder that this cruel industry routinely places profits before animal welfare.


  1. This needs to STOP! This is Animal cruelty.

  2. This just shows more work needs to be done for these greyhounds too and since the place is a bit of a gambling enterprise it shoulden´t be too difficult to remove one element of it namely greyhound racing.You wonder how many of those greyhounds run with injuries how many of them are injured on a daily basis what are they fed on ect ect buildings being dilapidated is not anything it has been seen before and everywhere racing exists.It is high time this lousy track was closed down and the greyhounds were put up for adoption.

  3. What kind of organization would allow a person like Julia Ward to be the President of their National Greyhound Association when she condones the cruelty to this breed? I certainly would steer clear of this association and publicize the hypocrisy. Perhaps IRS and animal cruelty organizations should be notified to look at NGA funding and if they adhere to their mission statement? A few phone calls could make them take notice.

  4. Simply Tragic as a volunteer for Greyhound Adoption Center in California the numbers of injured dogs in the adoption center continues to rise, with more and more dogs being sent from Caliente with broken legs each month

  5. I had a lovely grey, Boris, who came off the track at Caliente He was the ugliest dog at the adoption. There was no hair on his haunches, his tail looked like bamboo, the spaces between his ribs were all 1/2" deep,and the remainder of his coat was brittle and dull. He was culled from the track because, even at 18 months, he simply could not compete. Fortunately, took him from the track, had all the necessary vet work done, and placed him in a wonderful foster home before he came to me. This non-profit rescues 35-40 dogs every couple of months. Their good work at the track has included persuading the track to give the dogs a little play area so they can be out of their crates. Please help!

  6. A beautiful greyhound cross adopted us near here. She must have had a connection to this track. Poor dogs. Sick sick people.

  7. have gone to the dog tracks and it is nit a pretty place

  8. Such gentle souls treated so cruelly.MUST STOP.

  9. Such gentle souls treated so cruelly.MUST STOP.