Court approves dog-racing question

July 25, 2008
By

JOHN RUCH

A ballot question that would ban greyhound racing in the state, supported by a major Jamaica Plain-based animal welfare organization, survived a Supreme Judicial Court (SJC) challenge last week. The question will appear on the Nov. 4 election ballot.

The question will ask voters to approve a law banning any kind of gambling-based dog-racing as of Jan. 1, 2010. In practice, the law would force the closure or change in use of the state’s two greyhound-racing parks in Revere and Raynham.

The question is supported by a committee that includes the local Massachusetts Society for the Protection of Cruelty for Animals (MSPCA). Many local volunteers collected signatures to help get the question on the ballot.

The owner of the Raynham Park dog-racing track sued the state over the ballot question in May, claiming it should not appear on the ballot because it is illegal and unconstitutional in several ways.

But the SJC rejected all of those arguments, noting in its July 15 decision that the dog-racing gambling industry “only exists by virtue of legislatively created narrow exceptions to common law and statutory bans.”

Supporters say dog-racing is a legitimate and humane sport that employs many people. Opponents say it is an unnecessary and inhumane practice that injures, kills and torments thousands of dogs.

Other questions headed for the Nov. 4 ballot include decriminalization of minor marijuana possession, repeal of the state income tax and repeal of so-called anti-snob suburban zoning laws.

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