Animal advocacy groups nationally are joining with Iowa dog lovers and anti-gambling activists to launch a statewide campaign aimed at shutting down the state’s dwindling greyhound racing industry.
The issue surfaced during the last session of the Legislature, and activists said this week they are planning a full-fledged effort during next year’s session to make dog racing illegal.
State Rep. Mary Mascher, an Iowa City Democrat, said Wednesday she strongly supports the campaign and will introduce legislation in January to permanently halt greyhound racing, which she describes as an inhumane, dying industry. The bill would affect tracks in Council Bluffs and Dubuque.
“This issue is not going to go away until we get rid of dog racing in Iowa. It is inevitable. Whether it happens this coming session or another year or two down the road, it is going to happen,” Mascher said.
Only a handful of patrons attend greyhound races, which are subsidized with millions of dollars in profits from racetrack slot machines. That’s money that could be better used by Iowa community foundations, she added.
Bob Hardison of Onawa, president of the Iowa Greyhound Association, which supports the dog racing industry, said his organization will fight the shutdown campaign. Greyhound racing supports more than 1,300 jobs in Iowa with more than 350 owners and 70 farms in 30 Iowa counties. The industry generates millions of dollars annually for rural Iowa that is spent on farm supplies, veterinary services and other expenses, he added.
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