The Chamber of Deputies last night voted to prohibit greyhound racing across Argentina, including tough sanctions for those who organise or promote the activity.
The bill, which had already been passed by the Senate, was approved with support of 132 legislators, while 17 voted against and 23 abstained. It was supported by Cambiemos – the alliance led by President Mauricio Macri – as well as the Peronist parties Frente Renovador and Bloque Justicialista.
Animal rights groups have long campaigned for the law, claiming that greyhound racing is cruel to the animals involved. Hundreds gathered outside Congress yesterday to support the initiative to ban all racing.
Campign group Proyecto Galgo Argentino says that aside from being forced to race, dogs are abused and drugged to make them more competitive. Those injured or unable to compete are often killed or abandoned.
The group points to the lucrative gambling business behind the activity. “Greyhound races are a business,” one activist from Proyecto Galgo told La Nación. “And like all businesses, the profits are the priority. If they have to drug the dogs, they just do it, as they want them to run and win.”
However, those involved in greyhound racing claim it is similar to horse racing and that it should be better regulated but not prohibited, arguing that this would likely just drive the activity underground and make it harder to control.
Most of the opposition to the bill in Congress came against the penalties for those found involved in greyhound racing, with the law allowing for up to four years in prison and a fine of up to $80,000.
Diana Conti, of the Kirchnerist Frente para la Victoria (FpV) said the sanctions were unnecessarily strict when compared to those for other crimes that involved harm to human life. “We are voting to penalise Argentines that work an honest living in this type of activity,”, said Conti, adding that there were already laws against cruelty to animals that can be applied when the dogs are mistreated.
The law will come into effect when signed by President Macri and published in the Official Gazette.