Wednesday, April 09, 2014

Guess Who Wants to End Greyhound Racing?

Guess who wants to end Greyhound racing?

The owners of the dog tracks.

It seems that when attendance at Greyhound race tracks took a dive some 20 years ago, operators sought to add casino gambling and slot machines to the mix as a way of subsidizing the dog running business.

But as attendance at dog races fell faster and faster, the push was on to simply do away with the dogs all together.

“There is no reason to continue spending money on a dying sport,” said Bo Guidry, general manager at the Horseshoe casino complex that includes Bluffs Run Greyhond Racing in Council Bluffs, Iowa.

The company that owns the Horseshoe has offered to pay the state $49 million for the right to close the dog track which is now costing them $10 million a year to subsidize.

The Bluffs Run track opened in 1986 and saw $122 million in wages on the dogs that first year, but that sum dropped to just $4.6 million in 2010.

Greyhound track owners in Iowa, Florida and Arizona are now lobbying to cut the number of races or even shut the tracks completely, while keeping their more lucrative gambling operations in place.

If gambling operations are allowed to drop greyhound racing in Florida, where half of all Greyhound tracks exist, thousands of Greyhounds could be out of work and put into rescue and/or euthanized over night.

Of course, that outcome may be preferable to the current situation where killing dogs and dumping them in rescue has been going on for decades.  The rule in Greyhound racing is that a dog has six starts to get a win, and if it fails there it is either euthanized, put in foster, or sold off for laboratory experiments. Hundreds and hundreds of thousands of dogs have been bred for the track in the U.S. over the years, with the vast majority of them shot or euthanized in the end.

One thing is clear:  the era of dog track racing is over.  As Isadore Havenick, a dog track operator in Florida told The New York Times, “The only time there’s a large crowd of people watching dogs is when people get up from the poker tables to smoke.”

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