This week Colorado made history by becoming the 39th state to ban dog racing when Governor John Hickenlooper signed a bill making it illegal in the state.
While some poor performers and retirees may find their way into rescues and forever homes, thousands of others won’t be so lucky. The bill to ban dog racing was introduced by Representative KC Becker, sponsored by Senators Lois Tochtrop, Pat Steadman and Linda Newell and supported by animal advocates and organizations including GREY2K, Colorado Voters for Animals, Colorado Citizens for Canine Welfare, the ASPCA and the Humane Society of the United States.
Since dog racing was legalized in the 1940s, five tracks opened and closed in Colorado. Although profits steadily dwindled and the last track shut down in 2008, greyhound advocates were concerned that new facilities would open their doors in the state.
According to a report from GREY2K, greyhounds at Colorado tracks endured lives of confinement in stacked cages that left larger dogs unable to even fully stand up. The industry was also plagued with other problems from drugs to missing dogs. Sadly, there were also 2,636 greyhound injuries reported at Colorado tracks between 1993 and 2007, with more than half of them involving broken legs and fractured spines.
While Colorado’s new ban is a victory, greyhounds are still being legally exploited in a number of other states. There are currently 11 states with no bans in place and operational tracks in seven of them, including Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Iowa, West Virginia and Texas.
GREY2K is polling people to find out which state we want to see make racing illegal next. So far, Florida’s in the lead, which isn’t surprising considering that’s where 12 of the 21 remaining tracks in the U.S. are.
Thanks to a recent law that requires Florida to report greyhound deaths, we now know that over the last seven months of 2013, 74 racing greyhounds died at 10 Florida tracks. To put that into perspective, the numbers mean a greyhound dies every three days. Shockingly, there have already been 18 deaths since the start of 2014.
Now greyhound advocates are urging lawmakers to require injury reporting and end the ridiculous state mandate that requires gambling operations to hold dog races. Even if gambling enterprises wanted to end racing, or cut back significantly, they’re not allowed to. Fortunately, it has become clear to many, including lawmakers and those in the industry, that dog racing is being propped up by this “coupling” tactic that ignores animal welfare and leaves thousands of dogs running for their lives.
“Let’s be honest about the fact that the only reason we have greyhound racing in the state of Florida is that our laws require parimutuel facilities to engage in this barbaric practice simply to keep their licenses,” said Rep. Matt Gaetz, R-Fort Walton Beach. “It doesn’t make any sense.”
Hopefully, Florida will be next to adopt legislation that will bring a long overdue end to dog racing. For more info on efforts to end greyhound racing by state and greyhound rescues and adoptions, visit GREY2K and their adoption page.
Photo credit: Thinkstock
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