From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 1995:
Alaska governor Tony Knowles on
May 2 signed a bill to allow the 1,049-mile
Iditarod Trail dog sled race to raise an estimated
$1 million a year via “mushing sweepstakes,”
i.e. betting on aspects of the race that purportedly
can’t be fixed, such as the number of dogs who fin-
ish or the best and worst times. The sweepstakes
are to replace sponsorship lost due to protest––
meaning that the net effect of activism led by the
Humane Society of the U.S. since circa 1988 has
been to bring the Iditarod unprecedented economic
independence. Some types of gambling on dog sled
races were already legal, and are used to support
other races that don’t attract big sponsorship.
Sometime dog sled racer Karis
Redhawk, 34, whose husband Jeff Currey also
races, was charged on April 18 in Fairbanks,
Alaska, with starving a husky to death. Four of the
five dogs found alive on her land were allegedly
also starved. It was the second such case in a
month; earlier in April, state officials euthanized
81 starving huskies found on a Chistochina home-
stead belonging to Fairbanks cab driver Charlotte
Fitzhugh. Although Fitzhugh claimed to be a racer,
investigators found little evidence that she had ever
raced or trained seriously.
Vermont governor Howard Dean
signed a bill banning greyhound racing on April
4, and was to ceremonially sign it again on May 19,
according to Scotti Devens, founder of Save The
Greyhound Dogs. Working with Greyhound
Rescue of Vermont, headed by Sharon Bucklin,
STGD pushed the bill through with a seven-week
lobbying effort, “which left us broke,” Devens
admitted. Her hopes for economic recovery are
pegged to the fourth annual STGD Greyhound
Walk, to be held in Brattleboro on September 17.
(Info: 802-879-8838.) The ban ends chances that
the Green Mountain Raceway in Pownal, closed
after the 1992 season, will reopen as a dog track,
and also kills 15 years of proposals to build a dog
track in St. Albans, to draw Montreal gamblers.
A new track, the Camptown Greyhound
Park in Frontenac, Kansas, debuted in May.
Eighty-five llamas and 200 humans
took part in the third annual Llamathon on May
6 , a seven-mile cross-country race held near
Pescadero, California. The humans lead the lla-
mas, who don’t allow themselves to be ridden and
are known to spit at or even bite anyone who tries to
make them go when they want to stop.
Gateway Downs Mouse Racing, run by
Harvey Coffee of O’Fallon, Missouri, and Bob
Dobbins of Florissant, holds fundraisers for local
social clubs several nights a week and after five
years is reputedly booked six months ahead. They
keep (and breed) about 200 mice, taking 40 to each
event. The mice race on a 12-foot portable track.
The Missouri Horse Racing
C o m m i s s i o n, founded by referendum in 1984,
closed its office on May 1, and will dismiss sole
staffer Jane Scheel on June 1. “Since Missouri had
no racetrack at this point, we didn’t feel the state
should continue spending money for an office we
don’t need,” commission chair Betty Weldon said.
Between 1986 and 1992, the MHRC rejected
numerous proposals to found racetracks. In 1992,
Missouri voters narrowly rejected a constitutional
amendment that would have encouraged horse rac-
ing by legalizing off-track betting. That left the
MHRC with literally nothing to do.