Greyhound parks could close in Iowa - KWWL - Eastern Iowa Breaking News, Weather, Closings

Greyhound parks could close in Iowa

DUBUQUE (KWWL) -- Everyone knows, greyhound racing is not a moneymaker in Iowa. Iowa's first greyhound race tracks opened in the mid 1980's. For a while, they thrived. But, interest in greyhound racing began to drop off dramatically, especially when those same facilities, like Dubuque Greyhound Park, added a casino. Under current Iowa law, in exchange for having a casino, those existing race tracks must be kept open, though the casinos have ended up subsidizing the tracks for years.

Now, a major casino operator, Harrah's, wants to essentially end greyhound racing in Iowa, by, you could say, buying the state off. Or by paying the state of Iowa $ 7-million dollars a year to stop subsidizing the racing purses. But it could have an impact on greyhound dogs.

Rootbeer is a happily retired greyhound in the Coleman household.

"Rootbeer didn't race in Dubuque, she' from Arkansas. We got her at the beginning of winter so she's been with us for a few months," said Cindy Coleman, a greyhound owner and representative of the Dubuque Greyhound Support Group.

After a few years of racing, Rootbeer had puppies and was taken to a shelter. She's Coleman's third greyhound; resulting from a vow she made after a greyhound park came to Dubuque.

"We support whatever we can do to get these dogs, after they finish racing, into homes," said Coleman.

Wednesday in Des Moines, Harrah's Entrainment offered to pay Iowa $7 million a year to stop greyhound racing in the state. Coleman says their stand on the issue: not to take a stand.

"While saying that, we also recognize that greyhound racing has had a huge economic impact on the state of Iowa," said Coleman.

Everything from trainers to breeders to feed suppliers benefit from greyhound racing. But it's what happens to the dogs after they race that has the group worried.

"Some kennels will have the dogs euthanized after they are done racing. And we're not talking about older dogs, we're talking about 2, 3 year old dogs that don't get to see a future after their racing careers," said Coleman.

And if the state no longer allows dog tracks to operate. Coleman worries what might happen to the breed. No decisions have been made by state lawmakers. For now, all this group wants is a place for all greyhound dogs, like Rootbeer, to live after their careers are over.

"They love being loved," said Coleman.

Coleman says two of her dogs have came directly from the Dubuque Greyhound Park. But there is a greyhound shelter in the Quad Cities. They currently have more than 35 dogs available for adoption.

Online Reporter: Lauren Squires

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