Editorial: Question 3: Industry fate should not be by ballot

Staff Writer
Mount Shasta Herald

The two sides of the ballot question to ban greyhound racing in Massachusetts are speaking two different languages. The Committee to Protect Dogs says greyhound racing is deadly and cruel and, for the sake of the animals, should be banned in the state. The race tracks say a ban will cost the state millions of dollars and they refute charges of dog injuries and deaths.

The key question, though, is whether referendum is an acceptable manner to shut down a legitimate business – one that is among the most heavily regulated in the state and one that has existed for 75 years without a single documented case of abuse, according to the dog track owners.

We come down squarely on the side of the dog tracks and a no vote on Question 3 because, after nearly a decade of trying to make the case that dog racing is barbaric, racing opponents have failed.

Dog racing may be a dying industry, but voters should not be the ones to put it out of business. That should be the choice of consumers.

The Committee to Protect Dogs, made up of such groups as Grey2KUSA and the MSPCA, uses racing commission figures that show more than 800 dogs have been injured since 2002. But when you realize that the injuries occurred in nearly 500,000 starts by dogs, it is a 0.16 percent injury rate.

While proponents of Question 3 say there are less than 250 workers at the state’s two dog tracks, racing commission records show there were 833 workers who collected checks from Raynham-Taunton Greyhound Park alone in 2007, adding up to $6.7 million in salaries. All that would lost. The state also would lose $5 million and the town of Raynham would be in dire straits, with a loss of well over $400,000 annually in payments from the track.

Raynham owner George Carney said he has done nothing wrong and claims the committee has a target other than “dog protection” — gambling. He said the anti-gambling component of the fight to close the tracks is just as strong as the dog-protection argument.

“They’re only interested in one thing, putting the tracks out of business,” Carney said. “But we’ve done nothing wrong.”

Carney is correct on both counts. Dog racing is safer than ever in the state, particularly since regulations were rewritten in 2002 after the last ballot battle. It is a legal industry that provides millions of dollars to the state at a time when the state is in desperate need of this money. And, most important, the tracks operate with a high degree of safety and concern for the dogs, who must be well cared for, or become useless to their owners.

We urge a no vote on Question 3. It’s just not a good way to do business

The Patriot Ledger