Federal legislation that would end greyhound racing nationwide might be a moot point for racing in Dubuque, according to one industry leader.
The attorney for the Iowa Greyhound Association said that regardless of what happens to the bill introduced in Congress last week, live racing in Dubuque will almost certainly end in 2021 or 2022 when subsidies paid by Iowa casinos come to an end.
“(The) Iowa Legislature worked out an agreement seven years ago that is phasing out live racing in Iowa,” said Jerry Crawford, the attorney for the association, in a statement. “It is almost certain that live racing in Iowa will end in 2021 or 2022, so there is nothing more that needs to be done.”
The bill introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives aims to phase out greyhound racing and ban the use of live animals to train greyhounds.
The legislation was filed after nonprofit advocacy organization GREY2K USA Worldwide released videos that showed greyhounds being trained using live rabbits in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas.
However, whether the bill becomes law would have no bearing on the end of greyhound racing in Dubuque, which is home to the only dog-racing track in Iowa, Crawford said in an interview.
The Iowa Greyhound Park receives a $5.1 million annual subsidy from Q Casino and Hotel and a Council Bluffs casino as the result of a 2014 settlement agreement that allowed the casinos to cut ties with greyhound racing.
Crawford said that while wagering has gone up this year, it isn’t enough for the greyhound park to be self-sustaining when the subsidies end.
“I think that we’ll know what the future holds by spring of 2021,” Crawford said.
Carey Theil, executive director of GREY2K USA, said he was encouraged to see Iowa Greyhound Association officials acknowledge that racing in Dubuque likely will end soon.
“That is something that we had been told privately, but that is the first public confirmation of it that we’re aware of,” Theil said.
He said his organization’s investigation shows that dogs from facilities where GREY2K discovered live lure training raced in Dubuque.
“These are facilities that are producing dogs, breeding dogs, to race in Dubuque,” Theil said. “Maybe they didn’t know. We have no way of knowing that, but clearly, these are facilities that were breeding dogs to race at Dubuque and other tracks.”
Crawford said Iowa Greyhound Association officials would not know whether dogs come from the training farms in question or whether alleged behaviors were happening at a training farm.
“I think that people who want to champion that cause should do it in states where it’s happening,” he said. “They know where it’s happening, so let them go deal with it where it’s happening.”
He wrote in his statement that the association does not support live lure training and “would support federal legislation to that effect.”
Katelyn Schultz, a spokeswoman for U.S. Sen Chuck Grassley, R-Iowa, said the bill had not been introduced in the Senate at this time but that Grassley “believes animal abuse is unacceptable and should not be tolerated.”
“Regulations on animal cruelty are primarily handled by state and local governments,” she wrote in a statement. “The Iowa legislature recently addressed greyhound racing.”