Greyhounds in the racing industry are trained to run around an oval track in pursuit of a simulated, mechanical rabbit. To ensure the dogs chase their intended target at top speed, greyhound handlers have historically turned to “live-lure training” or “blooding” of their animals. This practice involves using rabbits, pigs, possums, and other small animals as live bait for the training greyhound to chase. These animals are tied down and then mauled to death at various points during training. The presumption is that this practice makes the greyhound chase.
Live lure training has been outlawed in Australia, Ireland, New Zealand, the United Kingdom, and the United States. However, the practice continues in rural areas around the world away from the watchful eyes of law enforcement. Because of the insular nature of the greyhound industry, live lure training is extremely difficult to find and prevent.
In February 2015, an undercover investigation revealed that rabbits, possums, and pigs were being used to train greyhounds throughout Australia. As a result of this live baiting discovery, several major greyhound racing sponsors withdrew their support for the industry, dozens of owners and trainers were suspended or banned, and members of racing boards resigned. Numerous state investigations into the industry were launched, proving widespread endemic cruelty and unnecessary killings perpetrated by the greyhound industry. In New South Wales, the industry was temporarily banned in late 2016.
In September 2011, a Texas greyhound trainer named Timothy Norbert Titsworth was caught on video training greyhounds with live rabbits. In a video transcript prepared by the State Racing Commission, the rabbits were heard screaming as they were chased and subsequently caught by the dogs. An individual on the tape remarks, “Got a little blood, didn’t it?” Titsworth later remarks that “these dogs have had seven rabbits in the field. And then they’ve had about eight on the whirligig.” As a result of the investigation, Titsworth’s license was revoked, and he faced a criminal charge of cruelty to non-livestock animals in Burleson County, Texas. However, the case was dismissed in April 2012.