GREYHOUND racing has been banned in Argentina after a bill to outlaw the sport passed through the country's lower house of government on Thursday.
The lower house supported the bill 132 votes to 17, with those found violating the news laws set to face up to four years in prison and monetary fines of up to $80,000 pesos (AU $6,970).
Despite receiving unified support from some of the country's major parties, including the coalition Cambiemos (meaning let's change), some members of the lower house, including those from the Front for Victory (FpV) party felt the greyhound racing ban had been unfairly labelled as an animal rights bill.
Diana Conti from the FpV, Argentina's left-leaning opposition, slammed the bill, labelling it ‘unconstitutional' and ‘fascist' and making assertions that it would have a detrimental effect on an entire ‘micro economy', whilst the country is already facing rising unemployment figures.
“The debate has created a false paradox [that consists of saying those who voted ‘no'] do not love animals, and that's not true… the banning of greyhound racing is not what's being voted on here, but rather the prohibition of people to trying to find an honest job through this activity… Well, I'm voting ‘no', whether or not they lynch me in the street,” Conti proclaimed.
However, animal rights group Proyecto Galgo Argentina has been a vocal opponent of the industry, claiming widespread cruelty as they advocated for the shutdown of greyhound racing.
“The training is done without any kind of veterinary supervision. The dogs are subjected to a great physical demand that can end their lives. Animals other than greyhounds are also involved in the ‘sport' of racing.
“Rabbits, chickens and cats are used as live bait to motivate the greyhounds to run faster. Sometimes, the feet of the bait animals are broken so that their screams of pain excite the dogs.”
Despite the ban being supported by animal rights activists, greyhound owner Juan Jose Provera told the Al Jazeera news agency the Argentinian Government was treating enthusiasts like they were murderers.
“It hurts to see that the country thinks we are mistreating our dogs. They're like family,” he said.
“They want to ban the races, but that's a mistake.”
The bill to ban greyhound racing passed through the senate back in 2015, while Freedom of Information documents also revealed Argentina was importing greyhounds from countries including Ireland and Australia.
Argentinian president Mauricio Macri backed the measure and is expected to sign the bill into law in the next few days.