DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) — Greyhounds suffered 175 injuries while racing at Iowa’s two racetracks between January 2011 and July 2012, and 24 injured dogs had to be euthanized, according to a report from a national greyhound protection organization.
Broken legs were the most common reported injury over the 19-month period at the tracks in Council Bluffs and Dubuque, The Des Moines Register reported. Other common injuries were sprains, tears and other broken bones. The group says several dogs suffered more severe injuries, including a fractured skull and a broken neck.
The report was compiled from records gathered by Grey2K USA, based in Somerville, Mass., the country’s largest greyhound protection organization. The research found that the Council Bluffs track, which has races year-round, had 106 dog injuries. The Dubuque track, which offers races between April and October, had 69 injuries.
Carey Theil, the group’s executive director, said the report should prompt the Iowa Legislature to end greyhound racing in the state.
Iowa lawmakers have rejected proposals the past three years to allow casinos to pay millions of dollars annually to the state treasury for the right to shut down their dog tracks. Since the mid-1990s, Iowa law has allowed the Dubuque and Council Bluffs tracks to operate casinos, but only on the condition that casino profits subsidize dog racing, even though wagering on races has dwindled and crowds are sparse.
Iowa is one of seven states where greyhound tracks still operate.
“These injuries are a consequence of legislative inaction,” Theil said. “There isn’t going to be a miraculous revival of greyhound racing. The only question left is how many dogs will suffer serious injuries and die before lawmakers act.”
The Iowa Racing and Gaming Commission regulates the state’s greyhound tracks. The commission’s administrator, Brian Ohorilko, said he has not seen the Grey2K report, but said he monitors track veterinarian reports and he hasn’t noticed any significant increase or decrease in greyhound injuries.
“We take the welfare of the animals very seriously in both dog and horse racing,” Ohorilko said.
State veterinarians perform a pre-race exam to ensure that dogs are healthy for racing, and tracks are checked to make sure they are in good condition, which helps avert injuries, Ohorilko said.