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Lynn kennel sues state over ’08 ban on dog race betting

By David Abel
Globe Staff / May 19, 2010

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The owners of a kennel in Lynn that for decades trained greyhound dogs to compete at racetracks has sued the state on the grounds that the 2008 referendum banning betting on dog racing violated their constitutional rights.

The owners of North Shore Kennel are seeking damages in excess of $1 million, arguing that the new law, which took effect Jan. 1, required them to prematurely retire 81 dogs.

“The referendum took people’s property away without any compensation,’’ said Doug Pizzi, a spokesman for the kennel. “That’s unconstitutional. It was a taking by the Commonwealth. We’ll be happy to have our day in court.’’

Officials in Attorney General Martha Coakley’s office, which represents the state in legal matters, declined comment.

In the lawsuit, which was filed last month, the owners say their investment in raising and housing the dogs has been “lost or substantially diminished’’ by the enactment of the law. They said it costs them $5,000 to raise each greyhound.

They contend that the law violates their equal-protection rights under the Constitution, because it singles out dog racing while the state allows horse racing.

“The Act is not rationally related to the furtherance of a legitimate state interest in that it deprives the plaintiffs of their ability to pursue their business and property interests, while the laws of the Commonwealth allow for the simulcasting within the Commonwealth of commercial dog racing,’’ the lawsuit says.

State officials sought a ban on dog race betting after allegations of widespread abuse of the animals.

North Shore Kennel has raised and raced dogs since 1975. They used to keep as many as 100 dogs at a time in their kennels in Lynn, which are now empty.

All the dogs have been either adopted or sent elsewhere to race.

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