Still on course: Florida ballot campaign closes in on greyhound racing

By on August 16, 2018 with 0 Comments

With less than three months to go until Election Day, the Protect Dogs-Yes on 13 campaign in Florida is at full throttle, mobilizing public support to phase out greyhound racing in what amounts to the industry’s last redoubt. Attorneys for the state are fighting off “Hail Mary” litigation brought by an industry group to prevent a vote on Amendment 13. But the bottom line is this: it’s still on the November ballot, and we and other supporters of the initiative are pushing toward the finish line, and the passage of a measure to phase out greyhound racing in the Sunshine State.

We’ve heard from defenders of greyhound racing over the years, and especially since the Florida campaign began. They seem to want to overlook something we simply can’t do, given what we know. There’s a dark side—a very dark side—to greyhound racing, one that features cruelty, dog deaths, drugging, and other serious problems. There ought to be a limit to the suffering and misuse of animals that we tolerate in the name of human diversion.

Greyhound racing is like a few other animal-focused entertainments that people have tended to view as innocent, harmless, and even good for the animals. We’ve seen this play out again and again, whether it’s with elephants at the circus, or chimpanzees in films or television commercials, for example. It’s what you don’t see that’s the problem, in the end. The behind-the-scenes abuses and indignities, the cramped quarters and neglect, and the denial of the animals’ most basic biological and behavioral needs, all of these concerns tilt the balance against our further indulgence of these pursuits.

The Humane Society of the United States has been confronting the cruelties of greyhound racing since the 1970s, when our investigator Frantz Dantzler went out into the field to document the training and coursing of greyhounds using live rabbits as lures. But in 1978, when ABC’s 20/20 produced a segment based on Dantzler’s investigations, racing was still a thriving pursuit, with some twenty million Americans betting over two billion dollars at dog tracks in the prior year. With that kind of money in play, it wasn’t a soft target.

Today, however, it’s a complete afterthought on the landscape of American gambling, accounting for less than one percent of all wagers. In Florida, according to a 2013 report produced for the state legislature, greyhound racing’s annual “handle”—or total amount wagered—dropped from $933.8 million in 1990 to $265.4 million in 2012, a 67 percent decline. A racetrack official quoted in the report admitted that no matter what the state or the industry does to prop up the sport, the interest just isn’t there. “We can see it by our live handle,” he told the report’s compilers. “The older folks are not being replaced,” he said. “There are just too many other things to do out there today. Watching a greyhound race is not at the top of most people’s agenda.”

In recent weeks, in addition to the strong support of the Humane Society of the United States, the Humane Society Legislative Fund, Grey2K USA, and other national and local organizations, the campaign has picked up the endorsements of a number of elected officials and public figures, and a $1.5 million dollar donation from the Doris Day Animal League. This will make it possible to wage a statewide program of outreach that appeals to the better instincts of Florida voters. By every measure, greyhound racing is a dying industry, and it’s time to end the misery it has caused to animals once and for all. By knocking it out in Florida, home to 11 of the nation’s remaining 17 tracks, we’ll be dealing a true death blow to an activity that deserves it.

Illinois stands up for African elephants and rhinos

By on August 15, 2018 with 0 Comments
Illinois stands up for African elephants and rhinos

African elephants and rhinos are under the gun; literally. More than 30,000 elephants and 1,000 rhinos are slaughtered by poachers every year for their tusks and horns, respectively. The reason for this war on some of Africa’s most iconic and beloved wildlife is that people . . . 

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Carrefour, Brazil’s leading food retailer, goes cage-free in latest of HSI successes there

By on August 14, 2018 with 0 Comments
Carrefour, Brazil’s leading food retailer, goes cage-free in latest of HSI successes there

Brazil, one of the world’s largest economies and the fifth largest nation by population, has become an important focus for animal advocates over the last several decades. The result has been a growing awareness of animal issues and noteworthy progress in regard to animal welfare. . . . 

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That’s Not Cool: Farm groups petition USDA on Country of Origin Labeling

By on August 13, 2018 with 3 Comments
That’s Not Cool: Farm groups petition USDA on Country of Origin Labeling

It’s no secret, and it’s no surprise. Americans want to know what they’re eating. A 2016 Consumer Reports survey found that a majority of American consumers want labels on the meat, poultry, fish, and produce they buy to reflect country of origin (87 percent) and . . . 

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Lion Snuggle Scam in South Africa Cons Tourists, Harms Wildlife

By on August 10, 2018 with 4 Comments
Lion Snuggle Scam in South Africa Cons Tourists, Harms Wildlife

Today is World Lion Day, a global celebration of one of the most majestic of big cats, the African lion. Travelers flock from all over the world to Africa to realize their dream of seeing “the king of the jungle” in the wild and South . . . 

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Outrage grows over killing of a mother bear and her cubs even as federal government moves to make such action legal

By on August 9, 2018 with 53 Comments
Outrage grows over killing of a mother bear and her cubs even as federal government moves to make such action legal

There isn’t sufficient outrage in the world to cover the depravity of the father and son who were charged with breaking Alaska state law in mid-April when they killed a mother bear and her shrieking cubs on Esther Island in Prince William Sound. The details . . . 

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Every whale counts

By on August 7, 2018 with 1 Comment
Every whale counts

The images of the orca Tahlequah keeping her dead calf afloat in Puget Sound while trying to keep pace with the other members of her pod have moved millions worldwide. The calf died on July 24 just half an hour after being born, raising not . . . 

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Massachusetts passes historic comprehensive anti-cruelty law

By on August 6, 2018 with 10 Comments
Massachusetts passes historic comprehensive anti-cruelty law

As a Massachusetts native, I’m excited about my home state’s latest positive action for animal protection, the passage of a comprehensive omnibus anti-cruelty bill, “PAWS II,” a few days ago by both chambers of the state legislature. PAWS II, which awaits the signature of Governor . . . 

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Government says Indonesia will ban dog meat trade

By on August 4, 2018 with 10 Comments
Government says Indonesia will ban dog meat trade

We received exciting news this weekend regarding our fight against the global trade in dog meat. At a meeting on veterinary public health held by Indonesia’s Ministry of Agriculture, officials confirmed their intention to support a ban on the trade in dog meat and to . . . 

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Pets for Life reaches 100,000 spay/neuter surgery milestone

By on August 3, 2018 with 1 Comment
Pets for Life reaches 100,000 spay/neuter surgery milestone

Last week, the HSUS Pets for Life program provided its 100,000 spay/neuter surgery at no cost to pet owners. Since early 2012, PFL has provided over 400,000 essential veterinary services, supplies, and medications to people and pets in need. PFL is a trailblazing program based . . . 

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