SOUTH TUCSON, AZ (Tucson News Now) - Many are calling it an end of an era. The Tucson Greyhound Park, the city's only greyhound racing facility, marked the last day of live dog racing Saturday, June 25, an event that's been a part of the Tucson community for decades.
"That's a form of entertainment," said Larry McGee, who came to the track to see its last live race. "Now, they're not going to have that so, it's kind of sad."
Governor Doug Ducey signed the bill to end live dog racing in the state last month, which will still allow the tracks to collect money from offering televised horse racing for at least two years.
Meanwhile, kennel owners and adoption agencies have been working together to help place the greyhounds into homes.
Representative for the track Michael Racy said there were about 440 dogs at the track at the beginning of the year. Now there are 270. He said about 150-170 of those dogs will continue racing somewhere else, and the rest are looking for homes.
"About 150 of those dogs have already been placed with various agencies," said Racy.
To help raise money for veterinary expenses, the Southern Arizona Greyhound Adoption held a fundraiser at a local bar Saturday afternoon.
Chair of the advisory board Mary Freeman said non-profits such as 'Beading Divas Bracelets/Beading Divas to the Rescue which chooses a different animal organization to fundraise every month, were able to raise $150,000 for different animal charities in Southern Arizona and across the country.
"It's really been great to see all the community support," said Freeman. "We know all the dogs are ending up in adoption groups somewhere here in the west, and a lot of them are here in Arizona."
Meanwhile, 100 employees at the track will soon be in search of jobs. Racy said the track has provided them with some financial assistance and will be working with them on a case by case basis.
"It's a little sad that we have the end of live racing," said Racy. "But I'm very proud of the work that the dog owners and kennel operators have done to make this transition go as smoothly as it has."
Ward 6 councilman Steve Kozachik, a longtime critic of live animal racing, said the dogs may have crossed their final finish line, but there's plenty of work to be done.
"We still have to monitor," he said. "I expect the Department of Racing and I expect the track, who said that they care about the welfare of the animals, to follow them and to make sure that what happens to the animals when they get to their next destination is good."
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