Two members of the US House of Representatives have introduced legislation to ban greyhound racing nationwide after an advocacy group released videos showing greyhounds being trained by chasing, mauling and killing live rabbits.
The videos showed incidents in Kansas, Oklahoma and Texas of a practice that is prohibited by the greyhound racing industry.
The non-profit group, GREY2K, said an animal rights investigator shot the videos on isolated training tracks in the three states.
Some of the footage shows trainers twirling the rabbits around or dragging them in front of the dogs, while others show the dogs trying to trap or kill the rabbits.
Kansas doesn't have a law specifically banning live lure training. It is a felony in Texas and a misdemeanour in Oklahoma, according to GREY2K.
The legislation introduced on Wednesday by US Democratic Representatives Tony Cardenas and Steve Cohen would phase out live greyhound racing or pari-mutuel wagering on live racing across the country. The Greyhound Protection Act also would ban the use of live animals for greyhound training.
Christine Dorchak, president and general counsel of GREY2K, said the legislation would make it impossible for dog racing to continue because it prohibits the use of electronic transmission for wagering.
She said the bill has strong bipartisan support and proponents are hopeful that Congress will act on it despite having many other pressing priorities.
Cardenas said greyhound racing is cruel and subjects the dogs to brutal training practices.
"My bill allows for a sensible wind-down of an already-declining industry that will ultimately outlaw greyhound racing," Cardenas said.
Jim Gartland, executive director of the National Greyhound Association, based in Abilene, Kansas, disputed allegations that the industry treats its dogs badly or uses live bait, noting that humane treatment of all animals is written into the association's bylaws.
The group took all allegations seriously and would revoke the membership of anyone who violated the bylaws.
Greyhound racing in the US has been on the decline since the 1990s, when it became a target of animal rights activists and faced stiff competition from other forms of gambling, particularly casinos.
The only active track in Texas closed recently, and greyhound racing will end in Florida this year and in Arkansas by the end of 2022.
That will leave active tracks only in West Virginia and Iowa, although dog racing is still legal in five other states that do not have active tracks.
Australian Associated Press