Idaho’s three-member Racing Commission voted Friday to adopt some of Gov. Phil Batt’s suggestions for reforming the Coeur d’Alene Greyhound Park, and agreed to hold a public hearing in Coeur d’Alene to consider the others.
About two dozen greyhound advocates told the commission the track has serious problems, ranging from mistreatment of animals to retaliation against those who speak out against it.
No one spoke on behalf of the track.
“It seems to me kind of a peculiar meeting not to be represented for,” said Commissioner Michael J. Lineberry.
The commission voted to demand that track representatives attend the Coeur d’Alene hearing, which will be scheduled for an evening within the next few weeks.
“This is an item of genuine concern for us,” Lineberry said after the 2-1/2-hour meeting. “We have to make sure, as the governor says, that there’s adequate oversight, that operations are being conducted there within appropriate standards.”
Greyhound advocates, some of whom wore gray sweatshirts picturing dogs in the “hear no evil, see no evil, speak no evil” poses, pleaded with the commission to do something about the track.
“You people down here are not aware of what’s going on up at the dog track in Coeur d’Alene,” Jim Ellenwood of Post Falls told commissioners.
“It’s a black mark against the state,” said Matthew Johnston of the Boise-based Greyhound Action Committee.
Kit Shuman of Boise, president of the Inland Empire Chapter of Greyhound Pets of America, accused track operation manager Al May of suggesting that her group might not be safe at the track after it criticized operations there. “He could not ensure our safety,” Shuman said. As a result, she said, “We have not been placing dogs (for adoption).”
The track said Friday afternoon that May had gone to a meeting in Boise. Efforts to reach him for comment were unsuccessful.
Virginia McKean, a greyhound advocate who spoke at the meeting, said “I have great fear now that the track will no longer allow me to do adoptions. I have been told repeatedly that if I come out and say anything … (I’ll be) closed out.”
Lineberry responded, “Just let the commission know if there’s any such action that follows from this meeting.”
Others who attended questioned the adequacy of drug tests conducted on the dogs, and said far more dogs go through the track than are accounted for in the track’s numbers for adoptions and euthanasia. The commission agreed to get more information on those and other issues for the Coeur d’Alene hearing, and to ask state workers who directly monitor the track to attend.
Afterward, Shuman said she was “cautiously optimistic.”
“We’ll be at the meeting in Coeur d’Alene,” she said.
, DataTimes MEMO: This sidebar appeared with the story: The commission voted to: Ask the deputy attorney general for the Department of Law Enforcement to review the commission’s rules and regulations and look at Idaho’s animal cruelty. The goal is to ensure that the commission can impose tough fines and penalties on those who commit inhumane acts. Send a letter to Post Falls Police encouraging officers to make unannounced spot checks of the track, with animal control officers. The Post Falls department has offered to do such checks. Require a new form to be completed whenever a racing greyhound is put to death. The owner or trainer would be required to certify that they had looked into adopting the dog out as a pet rather than killing it, and list the specific reasons why they were unable to do so. Copies of the form would be filed with both the track and the racing commission. The euthanasia form was not among the governor’s recommendations for reform, which were outlined in a sharply worded letter to the commission. Commissioner Dick Cade developed the form and won the commission’s approval Friday to require its use immediately.
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