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City of Tucson slams the door on steroid injections for greyhounds

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Photo: Video by kgun9.com

City of Tucson slams the door on steroid injections for greyhounds

CREATED Sep 11, 2012

Reporter: Marcelino Benito

TUCSON (KGUN9-TV) - It's a 9OYS investigation first brought to light weeks ago. On Tuesday night, it led to a change in law.

Operators of Tucson Greyhound Park were injecting its racing dogs with steroid drugs that dozens of vets find unethical and potentially harmful. It's why the city of South Tucson banned the practice years ago. Tuesday, council members saw what 9OYS cameras captured, a veterinarian doing just that, only within Tucson city limits. They were using Tucson to get around South Tucson's law.

Council member Karin Uhlich confronted park CEO Tom Taylor about it in Tuesday's study session. "Are there other laws in the city of South Tucson that you knowingly and willingly disregard in such a manner?" Uhlich asked.

Taylor replied, "No. I wouldn't break this one if it wasn't so important for the dogs."

With two greyhound dogs in attendance inside council chambers, city leaders listened to all sides of the issue.

"This is a black mark, a stain on the city of Tucson," Susan Via, an animal rights advocate said.

Animal rights advocates say injecting female greyhounds with steroids is harmful to the dogs. They say it causes health problems while making park operators more money. They urged the city of Tucson to take action.

But supporters of the park offered a different opinion.

"This is not a vacuum that the city can fill in with its own rules," said Taylor's attorney. "It's pre-empted by state law."

Taylor and his supporters say the dogs have never been treated better than they are now. He stands by the injections and stands by his park. He says the dogs are injected a tiny dosage once a month for two years. He refutes the claim that it's about making money. Taylor claims it's in the female dogs' best interest to not go through heat. The steroids prevent that from happening.

The council did not agree with Taylor and his supporters. The council used its authority to ban the use of steroids on greyhounds in Tucson. 9OYS reporter Marcelino Benito asked Via what she thought of the decision. She replied, "I'm pleased and proud with Tucson's city council and it's decision to put an end to this hideous practice."

But 9OYS learned Tuesday's decision is not an end to the controversy. Not by a long shot.

"They know as well as I do that I can go to Pima County now," Taylor said. "And if they ban it there, then I can go to Santa Cruz County, and if they ban it there, I go to Pinal. I could keep doing this, but I'm not going to."

Taylor tells 9OYS his days of running around the law are over. He plans to fight this head on right where it all started, in South Tucson. Benito asked Taylor if he plans to lead an effort to change the law. He replied, "I will have a meeting with our owners and see what they want to do. But that would be my recommendation, to change the law."

South Tucson's law passed in 2008 by a mere 29 votes. Still animal rights advocates say it'd be pretty difficult to overturn. They plan to fight Taylor every step of the way.

Stay with KGUN9 and KGUN9.com as this story develops.