Florida voters can decide in November to extinguish the cruel greyhound racing industry in their state once and for all.
Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission yesterday voted to place on the 2018 ballot a constitutional amendment that would phase out greyhound racing in the state by the end of 2020. This is a monumental step forward toward ending an industry that thrives on the pain of animals, and it has the backing of heavy hitters in the state, including Gov. Rick Scott, Attorney General Pam Bondi, former Florida Senate President Tom Lee, former Senate President Don Gaetz, Commissioner Brecht Heuchan and Congressman Matt Gaetz.
Ending greyhound racing in Florida is especially important because this state anchors the entire greyhound racing industry in the United States. Florida is home to 12 of the remaining 18 dog tracks nationwide.
While greyhounds look beautiful and athletic on the track, the fact is that the animals involved in racing have lives that are anything but glamorous. Florida’s approximately 8,000 actively racing dogs are kept in continuous confinement in barren warehouse-style kennels in rows of stacked metal cages that are barely large enough for the animals to stand up or turn around. The dogs are normally confined for 20 to 23 hours per day.
On average a greyhound dies at a Florida racetrack every three days and at least eight serious cases of greyhound neglect, some involving starving dogs and withholding medical care, have been documented in the Florida greyhound racing industry over the past decade. Florida and Alabama are the only two states with greyhound racing that do not publicly report greyhound injuries. However, a single county in Florida, Seminole, began tracking greyhound injuries in May 2017, recording 32 injuries involving broken bones, and two reported deaths. The industry, focused on its profits, gives little attention to the welfare of the dogs, and even tightly controls which adoption groups can help retired dogs, effectively holding them to a gag order so they cannot speak out regarding the condition of the dogs released to them.
As recent media coverage shows, the industry is also bedeviled by a serious drugging problem. Testing at Florida tracks over the past decade has resulted in 419 greyhound drug positive results, including 68 greyhound cocaine positives, and positive results for novocaine, lidocaine, industrial solvent DMSO, and the opiates oxycodone and oxymorphone. These drugs are used to mask injuries and pain as well as to artificially boost the animals’ performance.
Live greyhound racing is illegal in 40 states and it is a dying industry even in Florida where, since 1990, the money wagered on greyhound racing has declined by 74 percent and tax revenue from dog racing has dropped by 98 percent.
A majority of Floridians do not support the greyhound racing industry, and a recent survey commissioned by the GREY2K USA Education Fund and the Humane Society of the United States showed that of 1,000 likely general election voters in Florida, some 65 to 70 percent support an end to commercial greyhound racing in the state.
It is pretty clear that most Floridians, like most Americans, no longer see the entertainment value of greyhound racing. It simply goes against our societal values and the way we perceive dogs, as family members and companions. Greyhound racing needs to be sent into the history books, and thanks to the CRC vote, Florida residents will now have a chance to do exactly that.