Massachusetts Greyhound Track Holds its Last Race

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Lindsay MacLeod

The Greyhound Protection Act (GPA) is a Massachusetts statute that will phase out commercial dog racing by 2010. It was enacted as Question 3 on the November 4, 2008 ballot in Massachusetts.  It will shut down Massachusetts two remaining race tracks, Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park and Wonderland Greyhound Park in Revere, by January 1, 2010. Violators would face minimum fines of $20,000 by the State Racing Commission.

Less than two weeks ago, on September 18, Wonderland Greyhound Park held what could be its last race. Currently, there are two bills being considered at the state house. The first of these bills aims to postpone closing the tracks until 2012 due to economic hardships for the more than 1000 workers combined at the two tracks. The second bill seeks to extend simulcasting of races from around the country and the world. Both are still in committee.

As a greyhound owner, I have personally seen the harm that people inflict on these gentle giants at the racetrack. My own dog, Fiona, raced 17 times at a Florida racetrack before being given up for adoption. Lucky for her, she wasn’t fast enough to be kept as a brood where she would spend the remainder of her life on a farm breeding more potential racers. When I first got her, she had hair loss due to stress, scars from a racing muzzle, and an intense fear of loud noises. Hopefully the GPA goes according to plan and greyhound racing is over in the state of Massachusetts.

5 Responses

  1. The majority of Massachusetts voters supported banning Greyhound Racing in the Commonwealth.
    That means that the majority of State Representatives and State Senators, who are beholden to their constituents, have not supported extending Greyhound Racing.
    As you know, greyhound racing had declining attendance, just as horse racing has.
    Around the country, other states have sought to add slots to ensure the viability of racing, for reasons I fail to understand.
    Maybe someone could explain state sponsored gambling addiction to preserve tracks that are in the last stages of rigor mortis to me. It seems to be substituting one predatory practice for another.
    Massachusetts is not only in the process of considering simulcasting, but also those wildly profitable slots that generously reward their owners as a means of preserving the ‘tracks.’

    Keep up the good work and love Fiona with all your heart – she looks like a treasure!

    ‘The greatness of a nation and its moral progress
    can be judged by the ways its animals are treated.’
    ~ Mahatma Gandhi(1869-1948. Spiritual leader of India)
    Can we judge our country’s moral progress by the way we treat our animals?
    Obviously the next question will be: Can we judge our personal moral progress by the way we treat our animals?

  2. It is possible that greyhound racing is dieing out as a spectatotor sport as the public loses interest. One of the most famous greyhound tracks in the UK (Walthamstow) recently closed and there are less and less tracks operating on this side of the Atlantic

  3. I am on the Board of Directors of GREY2K USA, a national, non-profit organization that works to pass stronger dog protection laws and close down existing greyhound racetracks.

    In November 2008, GREY2K USA became the first group to successfully close down dog tracks through the citizens initiative process, passing Massachusetts Ballot Question 3.

    GREY2K USA has been instrumental in fighting for stronger laws to protect racing greyhounds. In Massachusetts and New Hampshire, we successfully passed laws requiring that states notify the public on the number of greyhounds injured while racing, and report on the ultimate fate of racing dogs. Also in Massachusetts, we helped pass the first state-funded greyhound adoption trust fund in United States history. In Florida and New Hampshire, we passed legislation to restore greyhounds to the protections of anti-cruelty laws.

    As the years have passed, public interest in greyhound racing has decreased. Over the past two decades, commercial dog racing has experienced catastrophic economic decline, and now represents less than 1% of all wagers made annually in the United States. The market demand for dog racing shrinks every year. Since 2004, eighteen dog tracks have either closed or ended live racing. Competition from other forms of gambling, coupled with increased awareness of the cruelty of greyhound racing, has had a significant negative impact on racetrack revenues.

    The racing industry is trying to sell a product that few people want. But instead of accepting that, dog track promoters desperately grab for the only lifeline left – they fight for the legalization of expanded gambling as a way to save commercial dog racing.

    Proposals to legalize slot machines at dog tracks almost always tie dog racing to slot machines, requiring by law that dogs continue to race as a platform for expanded gambling. Even though this marriage of two unrelated forms of gambling makes little sense, it is politically convenient. Dog track promoters can then argue for the legalization of slot machines as a way to save commercial dog racing.

    GREY2K USA is at the forefront of defeating attempts to prop up greyhound racetracks with subsidies, other forms of gambling such as slot machines, and special favors from politicians. Since 2002, we have helped defeat attempts to subsidize dog races with slot machine profits in Massachusetts, Florida, Kansas, New Hampshire, Colorado, Arizona and Oregon. Dog track owners in Colorado, Kansas and Oregon decided to close their facilities as a result.

    Once the Raynham Park and Phoenix Greyhound Park tracks close by the end of the year, there will be 23 tracks operational in 8 states.

    Please visit http://www.grey2kusa.org/ to learn more greyhound racing and our work to end it. There, you’ll find many ways to support us. Together, we can make a difference and help greyhounds nationwide.

    Thank you,
    Jennifer Krebs

  4. Good riddance greyhound racing and thank goodness GREY2K USA does not give up!

  5. People are more compasssionate about dogs than humans. No one mentions the jobs lost and millions of families effected by you dog lovers. Job well done–banning dog racing.

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