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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883

Batt Signs Law To Ban Dog Racing Simulcast Races To Continue At Post Falls Track

Idaho became the fourth state in the nation to ban dog racing as Gov. Phil Batt signed a ban into law Monday.

Washington is poised to become the fifth. Legislation banning dog racing in that state is awaiting action by Gov. Mike Lowry.

But Washington never has sanctioned dog racing. The issue is more emotional for Idaho because the state specifically made dog racing legal in 1988 to allow the Greyhound Park at Post Falls to go into business.

“Dog racing seems to be on the decline throughout the nation. I think it’s a good thing for Idaho to close this chapter in its history,” Batt said after signing the bill.

The Post Falls track closed in December, citing millions of dollars of debt. It had been the target of years of protests over treatment of racing greyhounds.

Idaho’s legislation includes a special clause to allow the Post Falls track to continue taking bets on simulcasts of dog races for three more years and on horse races indefinitely. Simulcasts are live broadcasts of races run elsewhere.

Greyhound advocates who surrounded Batt for the signing said they wish the bill would ban simulcasts of dog races right away. But, said advocate Virginia McKean, “it’s a big, big start.”

Batt said Boise’s Les Bois Park made a “good faith contract” to run simulcasting at the North Idaho facility for three years and it is appropriate for the bill to recognize that.

“There’s a large economic investment there,” Batt said, “several people working there. I didn’t think we needed to decrease the scope of it (gambling) there, but we did not enlarge it.”

The bill also bans training of dogs for racing.

Four leashed greyhounds stood by for the bill-signing, and posed for pictures afterward. Batt brought in his own dog, Sniffer, a poodle-Schnauzer mix, and set it on his lap while he signed the bill.

Asked why, he said, “Because he’s the first dog of Idaho.”

Batt said he and his wife, Jacque, are fond of dogs, and Jacque Batt sometimes does volunteer work for pet havens.

Batt opposed greyhound racing when Idaho first legalized it, and he hasn’t changed his mind since. “Dog racing depends upon selecting a few highly competitive dogs out of a large group,” he said. “Those that can’t compete are doomed to either be adopted or destroyed.

“It hardly seems worth it to me to go through that process of breeding and killing the ones that can’t compete, just to have the sport. It’s not a good thing to do.”

McKean, who founded Greyhound Rescue of Idaho and also works with Greyhound Pets Inc. to find former racing dogs adoptive homes, said, “This is a big day for us and for the state of Idaho.”

“I think dog racing is despicable,” she said. “I have seen firsthand the abuse.”

Since the Post Falls track closed, more than 400 of its former racing dogs have been adopted.

, DataTimes