Thanks to Gov. Doug Ducey, Arizona's Greyhound racing industry has reached its end.
In May, Ducey signed legislation to outlaw dog racing by the close of 2016.
"Greyhound racing has run its course in Arizona," said Ducey in a prepared statement.
Arizona's one remaining Greyhound racing facility, Tuscon Greyhound Park, has been granted permission by the Arizona Racing Commission to shut down by the end of June, provided a number of other conditions are met. Arizona Department of Gaming spokeswoman Amanda Jacinto says one of those conditions is developing a viable plan for what will happen to the dogs currently at the facility.
The Arizona Racing Commission plans to review the plan at its meeting that will take place at the end of this month. If the commission greenlights the plan, Tuscon Greyhound Park will end its long history of dog racing, which has been occurring at the facility since 1944, when racing was legal for just 60 days per year. It became legal year-round in 1982.
This legislation is the response to increasingly harsh criticisms leveled at the practice of Greyhound racing. Injuries sustained by the dogs, as well as the sad fates most of them meet when their careers come to an end, or when they simply can't measure up, have generated great concern among those who do not favor the industry, and see it as bloodsport.
One such critic is Sen. Steve Farley (D-Tuscon), who voiced his distaste for the practice at a debate earlier this year.
"Greyhound racing isn't a sport," he said. It's "a cruel practice that's like one step above dog fighting."
Gov. Ducey is enthusiastic about the legislation, and how he believes it will drastically improve the lives of Arizona's soon-to-be-retired racing greyhounds.
"It's heartening that these beautiful greyhounds will soon be off the track and in loving homes...For any families looking to adopt a new canine companion this summer, I encourage you to consider one of these gentle and intelligent dogs."
As a means of compensating track owners, who stand to lose big when this legislation takes effect, state lawmakers provided for the establishment of seven off-track betting sites. Track owners will be able to take wagers on horse and dog racing at other locations where live racing occurs. It was this compensatory provision for track owners that ultimately led to the measure that Gov. Ducey signed.
This legislation is a victory for Arizona's racing Greyhounds. With any luck, they'll all soon be in loving forever homes.
If you're interested in learning about Greyhound adoption, you can read more here.