Ending the greyhound races "was mostly a financial decision," said Birmingham Racing Commission Executive Director Kip Keefer, AL.com reports

By Jen Juneau
April 24, 2020 12:48 PM
Greyhounds on racetrack
| Credit: Getty

Birmingham Greyhound Racing is ending its live events after almost three decades.

After first suspending operations at the track in March due to the novel coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic, the course will now offer only simulcasting and historical races upon reopening, according to multiple outlets including The Trussville Tribune.

Birmingham Racing Commission Executive Director Kip Keefer said that the decision "was mostly a financial one," as "revenues have lagged. It's not a product that was supporting itself," reports AL.com.

Keefer added that the course plans to reopen on May 1 barring further stay-at-home restrictions. In the meantime, about 450 former racing greyhounds now need homes, according to WBRC.

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Italian Greyhound
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"What they're talking about is not a permanent cessation of racing," Keefer added of potentially bringing racing back to the Birmingham track, AL.com reports. "It will be a considerable task to get everything back up and running, but they hope to do so."

Animal Wellness Action's Marty Irby spoke out about the decision in a statement obtained by Reno, Nevada-based outlet KTVN Channel 2 News, saying, "We applaud the Birmingham Racecourse for shuttering the last greyhound racing operation in the Yellowhammer State."

The organization's executive director added that he was "elated to see this archaic and abusive enterprise cross the finish line in my home state for good."

"Most tracks don't make money, but gambling interests that own the tracks are being obligated by the states to subsidize the operations and to require that the tracks run dogs even when it's a money-loser," Irby said. "The states shouldn't force businesses to conduct operations that they don't want to do and that lose money."

Greyhounds racing
| Credit: Getty

The Birmingham course was one of the few remaining in the United States that offered live greyhound racing, with most on the list being in Florida. But in 2018, the state voted to pass Amendment 13, which promises to phase out all commercial greyhound racing in Florida by this year. (This will leave only a handful of tracks, located in Arkansas, Iowa, West Virginia, and Texas.)

"For decades the Florida legislature failed to protect greyhounds abused by the racing industry. Today voters made a historic choice to make Florida a more humane state," Stephen Wells, executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund, said in a statement at the time.

"Amendment 13 puts an end to the cycle of cruelty that victimized greyhounds in the state for far too long," he added. "These social dogs will soon be able to retire and enjoy running on their own terms, without being forced to spend most of their days in cages or being drugged to enhance their performance."

Anyone interested in adopting a greyhound from the Birmingham facility can visit the course's adoption website at ohmygreyhounds.com.