Six months before a ban on dog racing in Massachusetts becomes law, a group of racing supporters filed a complaint in Lynn District Court, accusing their opponents of election fraud.
Six months before a ban on dog racing in Massachusetts becomes law, a group of racing supporters accused their opponents of election fraud.
Opponents of ballot Question 3, which will make dog racing illegal Jan. 1, filed a complaint in Lynn District Court on Tuesday asking the court to conduct an inquest, or judicial inquiry, into the November campaign.
In the four-page complaint, representatives from Protection of Working Animals and Handlers — a Lynn-based nonprofit that has expressed interest in challenging the November election results — allege anti-racing groups made false statements about kennel crates and adoption rates.
“We feel strongly that had voters been told the truth by anti-racing forces in the lead-up to the election, there would have been a different outcome,” said Linda Jensen, president of the nonprofit group, in a written statement.
But anti-racing advocates slammed the accusations in an e-mailed statement as “baseless” and nothing more than “dirty tricks.”
“These latest accusations amount to nothing more than post-election sour grapes,” said Christine A. Dor chak, president of Grey2K USA, a national nonprofit group dedicated to ending greyhound racing.
“Greyhound racing interests will go to any length to undermine the will of the voters, including a reckless campaign of misinformation,” she added.
Even though most of Southeastern Massachusetts voted to keep dog racing by steep margins on the November ballot, 56 percent of voters statewide elected to end it.
Sympathy for dog racing runs deep in the region since Raynham Park — one of the two remaining greyhound tracks in Massachusetts — employs an estimated 300 to 600 people.
During the November campaign, the Committee to Protect Dogs, the campaign arm of Grey2K USA, argued that dog racing was inherently cruel — even if the law at that time didn’t agree.
Track supporters staunchly opposed claims of mistreatment, but focused their campaign on the possible loss of jobs and revenue.
The lawsuit filed Tuesday does not name individuals as defendants but alleges violations committed by “the proponents of Ballot Question 3,” namely the Committee to Protect Dogs.
The complaint alleges the committee of “repeatedly made false statements” about the size of crates in which greyhounds are kept.
During the campaign, anti-racing advocates had argued the state-mandated kennel size was too small, but did not say tracks kept dogs in cages in violation of state standards.
“Dogs are confined in small cages barely large enough for them to stand up or turn around,” the committee had stated on its Web site during the campaign.
“We are fully prepared to defend that decision,” said Carey Theil, Grey2K’s executive director, in an interview Tuesday night.
The lawsuit also alleges proponents misrepresented the greyhound adoption rate.
Throughout the campaign, the two sides analyzed adoption data differently.
Citing data from the state Racing Commission, anti-racing groups publicized that 31 percent of greyhounds that left Raynham Park were adopted.
Most of the remaining dogs raced at another track, with small percentages released to owners, bred, sent to farms, euthanized or had died, according to the Racing Commission.
Meanwhile, track supporters touted a “100 percent adoption rate,” meaning all dogs put up for adoption were successfully adopted.
The lawsuit also accuses anti-racing groups of using photos and videos “depicting the cruel treatment of greyhounds in other states and countries for the purpose of misleading Massachusetts voters.”
In 2001, the anti-racing group used images of emaciated greyhounds from Spain during a campaign to end greyhound racing in Massachusetts.
All images released by the committee last year came from photos and Web cam footage published by the tracks, the committee has insisted.
A video on YouTube, posted in October 2008, in support of Question 3, shows images of sickly and dead greyhounds.
“This person has no association with the campaign whatsoever,” Theil said.
“For the dog track to take videos created by someone else and call it election fraud ... is incredibly dirty,” he added. “It’s a dirty trick that they’re using to try to create momentum to overturn Question 3.”
Finally, the anti-racing group is accused of trying to influence voters by offering a free computer desktop wallpaper for Web site visitors who pledged support.
Albert G. Smith of Raynham, a trainer at Raynham Park and treasurer of the nonprofit group, and Michael B. Cur ran of Stoughton, a kennel operator at Raynham Park, are among the four complainants on the suit.
Jessica Scarpati can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.