There’s growing support among lawmakers and business leaders in Iowa to shut down the only two greyhound racetracks in the state that are operating in Dubuque and Council Bluffs.
Not only is racing bad for the state, but it causes thousands of dogs to needlessly suffer as they’re left to literally run for their lives. While some poor performers and retirees may find their way into rescues and forever homes, thousands of others are confined to stacked cages, suffer from injuries on the tracks and during transport, are denied pain relief, drugged, neglected or killed when it’s no longer profitable to keep them.
According to an analysis of injury reports from Grey2K, 175 dogs were injured from January 2011 through July 2012 at the Mystique greyhound track in Dubuque and Bluffs Run Greyhound Park in Council Bluffs, while 24 were euthanized. A total of 747 injuries were reported between January 2006 through July 2012.
Greyhounds deserve better than a life in racing, and the industry’s argument that many are adopted out after their “careers” are over doesn’t justify their continued exploitation. Rescues also shouldn’t be left continuously trying to save dogs the industry keeps cranking out.
While the push to end racing in Iowa isn’t so much about the welfare of greyhounds as it is about bad business, if it shuts down the tracks it’s still a win for the dogs. Dwindling profits indicate a dying industry that only exists because it’s being propped up by casinos that are subsidizing the tracks to the tune of $14 million a year.
According to the Des Moines Register, combined betting at the the state’s two tracks has dropped from $186 million in 1986 to just $5.9 million in 2012, a decline of 97 percent. Unfortunately, state law forces the casinos to use slot machine profits to operate tracks and keep purses big. Both lawmakers and casino officials want them out, arguing that the money they’re spending to keep racing alive would be better spent on other causes.
Previous proposals were introduced in 2010 and 2012 that would’ve resulted in the casinos paying the state millions to end dog racing, but they didn’t get anywhere.
Now it’s no longer a question of whether or not greyhound racing is going to make a comeback in Iowa, but how to fairly shut it down. Only heavy lobbying from the industry has kept it alive until now. Lawmakers are acknowledging growing support for ending greyhound racing in the state and are coming forward again in support of a ban, although they’re still concerned about how a ban will affect those who work in the industry and are working on proposals that will satisfy both sides.
According to the Des Moines Register, this time around the city councils and chambers of commerce in both Dubuque and Council Bluffs are on the same page and have both endorsed legislative proposals that would allow the Mystique and Horseshoe casinos to keep their licenses without offering dog races.
“This simply isn’t working any more. If this were any other business in the private sector, it would have been shut down a long time ago,” said Senate President Pam Jochum, D-Dubuque.
Commercial dog racing is illegal in 38 states, but is still legal in Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa and Texas. Hopefully, Iowa will be next on the list to close its tracks.
Please sign and share the petition urging Iowa’s lawmakers to support legislation that will end greyhound racing in the state for good.
For more info on greyhound adoptions and national adoption groups, visit Grey2K’s adoption page.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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