BIRMINGHAM, AL — Animal Wellness Action, a national organization promoting legal standards against cruelty, applauded an announcement made by the Jefferson County Racing Association (Birmingham Race Course) that live greyhound racing will end at the last track left in Alabama — one of the last states to stage this archaic form of animal competition.
“We applaud the Birmingham Racecourse for shuttering the last greyhound racing operation in the Yellowhammer State,” said Marty Irby, executive director at Animal Wellness Action, and a native Alabamian. “I’m elated to see this archaic and abusive enterprise cross the finish line in my home state for good.”
A generation ago, there were 60 tracks in the U.S. Once a current set of phase-outs for tracks in Arkansas take effect, only four will remain. The remaining tracks are in West Virginia, Iowa, and Texas, and as in Alabama, there is flagging interest and serious concern about the treatment of the animals.
“Most tracks don’t make money, but gambling interests that own the tracks are being obligated by the states to subsidize the operations and to require that the tracks run dogs even when it’s a money-loser,” added Mr. Irby. “The states shouldn’t force businesses to conduct operations that they don’t want to do and that lose money.”
At the few tracks that remain, the dogs often perform in front of nearly empty arenas. Instead of cleaning up its act, the industry has fought reform efforts. Dogs play an important role in our lives, and they deserve to be protected from unpopular spectacles that put them at risk.