Greyhound Hall of Fame

This monument stands outside the NGA office in Abilene where it commemorates the Greyhound Hall of Fame.

Abilene residents can remember the week of the fall and spring meet up, because the town became filled with greyhounds and their owners. 

However for 2021, Abilene may experience the last meet up due to the decreasing community of greyhound racing dogs. 

“We need to kind of take a headcount because, historically, in about 1990, there were 62 racetracks dotting the country from Oregon to Florida,” National Greyhound Association Executive Director Jim Gartland said. “Now at the end of 2022  or January 1, 2023, there will be two (racetracks).”

On top of racetracks closing down across the United States, many farms that breed greyhounds for generations have gone out of business due to the decrease in demand of racing dogs. 

“In fact, a lot of people are predicting we’re gonna have a shortage of dogs even to run the tacks, because it costs money to raise these dogs and if you don’t get a return on your investment, you know, it’s not a good business model for you,” Gartland said. “So we’re taking a count kind of to see how many people might have dogs available for me. In other words, we could run a meet next spring, but there might be 25 dogs, which doesn’t do anybody any good.”

While Gartland sees the decrease in demand for the racing greyhound, the demand for pet greyhounds has increased massively to the point Gartland gets calls from adoption groups in Canada. 

“The reason these greyhounds make great pets is the way they’ve been raised for races, because they’re kept with their litter mates, they’re always with other dogs, they’re constantly being handled by humans, and they get collar and leashes on when they’re really you and start their training,” Gartland said. “They’re so socialized and so regimented by the time they’re done racing that you get a house broken pet ready made for you.”

While many greyhound owners are shifting away from training their dog to race, some have decided to double down by registering with both the NGA and American Kennel Club. Gartland began talking to AKC to see what agreement they can come to about working together, if NGA decides to shut down. AKC requires paperwork displaying a dog’s pedigree before they can be allowed to participate in activities, so Gartland is working with them to accept greyhound racing historical champions. 

“We have frozen semen on our past champions and all our past bloodlines, so they can keep it going so to speak, if it ever comes to that we’re working with them on that now we’re still in the process,” Gartland said. 

While Gartland works with the greyhound industry and community of owners to keep meets up, he wants Abilene residents to know this is not their fault.

“Abilene has always been really good about supporting us and it’s not the local community that’s hurting us,” Gartland said. 

He would like to see more local residents attend this fall meet up from Oct 11 to 15 to see the races to evening events to the auction. 

“Everybody’s welcome, you know in the past we used to get school buses pull kids out here to come watch the races and they’re more than welcome on Monday and Thursday come out enjoy the races and meet the people,” Gartland said. “Especially if it’s the last time you might want to come out and take a look and it’s a lot of fun. Everybody’s welcome to all our other events, the Hall of Fame night and all that kind of stuff. Come out and join us and say hello and see the dogs and meet all the people that come to town and spend money here at the hotels and stores and restaurants and it’s good for the community and I think they’d enjoy it as well.”

 

(1) comment

Fred Barton

"While Gartland sees the decrease in demand for the racing greyhound, the demand for pet greyhounds has increased massively to the point Gartland gets calls from adoption groups in Canada. "

And there it is. All that caterwauling about the breed dying out if racing ended was just that, caterwauling.

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