Massachusetts votes to end dog racing

Massachusetts votes to end dog racing

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Nov 05, 2008
By dvm360.com staff
Boston—Humane groups scored an Election Day victory in Massachusetts when voters passed a ban on commercial dog racing. But they will have their work cut out for them by 2010, when the racing dogs need homes.

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The dog-racing ban, officially the Greyhound Protection Act, won voter approval on the second try, a similar issue having been defeated in 2000.

The ban passed Nov. 4 by a 12 percent margin, with 56 percent of voters in favor of it.

"This is a fantastic win for dogs in Massachusetts, and it marks the demise of an industry that exploits dogs for entertainment and profit," Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) President and CEO Wayne Pacelle wrote on the group's Web site after the election results were tallied. " We are so grateful to the people of Massachusetts for establishing this humane policy."

There have been more than 800 reported injuries on two Massachusetts dog-racing tracks since 2002, according to HSUS. Racing dogs were confined in small cages for 20 or more hours per day, the group says.

Opponents argued that passage would put the well-being of dogs before the well-being of more than 1,000 workers, including track veterinarians, who will lose those jobs when the tracks are forced to close in 2010.

The ban prohibits any type of dog racing or exploitation of dogs for entertainment, with violators subject to a $20,000 fine. However, the ban still will permit races to be telecast and viewed at the tracks from locations outside the state.

The Committee to Protect Dogs, the ballot question committee formed to help pass the measure, says it will work with shelters and humane societies to find homes after 2010 for dogs now kept at the two racetracks.