In light of this post from a few weeks ago, BMG’s endorsement of the proposed ban on greyhound racing (in the form of a ballot question on the 2008 ballot) won’t come as a shock. But since the signature gathering is now in full swing, with only a few more weeks to go, now seemed like a good time to make it official: we support this ballot question, and we hope you’ll do so too. You can donate money, or volunteer to help gather signatures, at this link; also, of course, look for a signature gatherer in a supermarket parking lot or other location near you.
The post linked above has a lot of information about dog racing in Massachusetts, including a link to a comprehensive report put together by the ballot question’s proponents (but which relies almost exclusively on news reports and information supplied by the racing industry). So if you have questions, refer to that post and to the links it contains. Then, if you still have questions, drop them in the comments, and we’ll make every effort to get responses from the question’s proponents.
Short version: the main reason to ban dog racing is that the dogs don’t come out of it very well. They spend most of their lives confined in cages barely large enough to hold them. But …
The confinement, while perhaps not pleasant, isn’t really the worst of it. The dogs get hurt in the races. Not every dog, and not every race, but there are plenty of injuries. Each month, on average, 6 dogs at Wonderland and 7 dogs at the Raynham dog track suffer injuries that are bad enough to report to the state. The vast majority of the injuries are broken bones. Some are bad enough to require that the dog be euthanized, and most take a long time to heal; the average recovery period, as estimated by the dog tracks, is 31 weeks.
Is there a countervailing jobs/economic development issue? Sure, but one of the important things to recognize is that dog racing is an industry in steep decline, despite a big state-funded bailout a few years ago. As David wrote in September:
And dog racing does appear to be a dying industry. The total amount wagered from 2002 to 2006 has declined by 35% at Raynham and 57% at Wonderland. And those numbers include forms of gambling other than dog racing — such as simulcast horseracing. If you just look at the dog racing numbers, the decline is even more dramatic: a drop of 42% from 2002 to 2006 at Raynham, and a staggering 84% at Wonderland. In fact, in October 2005, Wonderland went from year-round racing to a “seasonal” (half-year, roughly May to October) schedule, presumably because they felt that year-round racing was no longer economically sustainable. (In case you’re wondering: the decline in amount wagered on dog racing at Wonderland from 2002 to 2004, the last full year of racing there, was 42%. And the drop from 2004 to 2005 was over 50%, even though there was racing for 10 months in 2005.) … It’s hard for me to see any good reason to keep propping this industry up (as the lege did back in 2001 with a multimillion dollar bailout package whose returns have been far less than promised — a 2006 MetroWest Daily News article reprinted in the report says that, although the promise was that the state would receive $5 million a year, the returns were $3.1 million in 2002, declining to $2.1 million in 2005).
On balance, we think the costs of dog racing outweigh the benefits. We hope you’ll agree, and that you’ll support the effort to ban it in Massachusetts.