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April 28, 2010

Hunting Coyotes with Greyhounds: A Cruel Blood Sport

One of the greatest challenges we confront at The HSUS is that there are so many forms of animal abuse. For a thousand cruelties, it seems there are an equal number of excuses and rationalizations. In addition to long-standing abuses like dogfighting or puppy mills, we have discovered in recent years horrible innovations in exploitation, such as crush videos, Internet hunting, hog-dog fighting, and animal cloning.

In Monday’s New York Times, Juliet Macur reported on an old form of abuse that most people had either never heard of in the first place or had assumed had simply faded away with the march of humanity and modern society: the use of greyhounds to chase and kill coyotes, as a form of sport hunting.

Greyhounds
iStockphoto

Macur’s story is a semi-profile of an Oklahoma cattle rancher, John Hardzog, who relishes the sport of watching his greyhounds chase, fight, and kill coyotes. Macur says “It remains largely a regional pursuit that is part of the area’s lore, like the cattle drives along the Chisholm Trail.”

It is also an activity banned in a number of states, including Colorado and Washington, where the chairwoman of the Washington Fish and Wildlife Commission rightly likened the practice to dogfighting.

While greyhounds are remarkable creatures, so too are coyotes. The wild canids are not only smart, but tough. They fight back after the greyhounds catch them and life-and-death fighting results are thrown into this moral mess. From a safe distance, men like Mr. Hardzog watch it all play out, and get an adrenaline rush from it, just like cockfighters and dogfighters do in watching the animals chew or hack each other to death.

Greyhounds make great pets—I have known so many of them through the years. Indeed, it is sad to see these animals conscripted for this ignoble purpose. The story is a disturbing read, but an important one as a reminder of the sort of mindset we are fighting.

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