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

By on August 16, 2018 with 17 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.

Companion Animals, Public Policy (Legal/Legislative)

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  1. Michle OBrien says:

    Thank God this industry is dying. It’s time to totally end the misery and suffering that these dogs, mans best friend endure. Thank you to the Humane Society and Grey 2K and all the organizations that have worked so tirelessly to end this despicable past time.

  2. Rebecca Dodson says:

    It’s high time we put dog racing to an end and give those poor greyhounds loving homes where they can run around by choice.

    • Maneater says:

      I rescue stray dogs put out of there homes every day & have more than my share. They all eat before I do.
      Are YOU going to be one of those loving forever homes for these born to run dogs with no where to go? Thousands of these dogs will most likely be euthanized because people like you have a big mouth & no action to serve!

      • Cherie Miller says:

        These dogs need and love to run. But we need to treat them well.proper care and kindness is overlooked at the track.

  3. Brenda L Fine says:

    I continue to notunderstand calling this a sport. Why watch dogs that have been transferred in cages that are too small and then drugged to falsely improve their ability to run and possibly die.

    • John Markland says:

      Please, help me understand. Should we take away people’s livelihoods because of some bad eggs in the racing industry or should we just deal with those people. Do we commend families, communities, churches, etc because of someone who has committed a crime. No, we deal with that person.
      Having owned a few greyhounds and spending a lot time in kennels I never seen abuse. Since trainers work on commissions off their greyhounds performances, why would one cut his own salary? I have read the dogs have small cages. First of all, they are no smaller than you would buy in the store for your own dog. Even dog houses are not made that big because it gives the dog security. Additionally, when my greyhound took a break from racing living at my house (cageless) it literally slept for 18 hours not moving a muscle.That was typical. And, as we know, greyhounds love to run. That is what they are designed, born to do. I have two beautiful labs and they are designed to swim and swim they do. While I deeply appreciate the adoption program for greyhounds, I wonder how many owners take their dog to a big field and let them run.
      I think the activists should not be selective and focus on all the people who keep their dogs in cages in their backyard or on short chains. How many dogs are trained properly? How about all the people who keep their cats indoors all their lives. The closes they get to the outside is getting to stare through a window, prehaps thinking what it must be like to be involved in nature. I have cat, I would never keep her in. She a great hunter, keeping the rodent population under control in the neighborhood and really enjoys the fresh air and sunshine. How come all activist don’t address these issues. I would think if they are dedicated to stop cruelty to animals, here is a place to start. So, please, tell me why we should eliminate a business that employs many, many, people instead of dealing with the individuals. Lets be fair and deal with all cruelty to animals.

      • Gina Butler says:

        Thank you for the truth. 55yrs of greyhounds in my life, the cruelty accusations are outright blatant lies. Greyhounds are the best treated animals in this country, & the people who race them are salt of the earth. In all my years on farm, @ tracks, never once have seen a greyhound that wasn’t loved by it’s owner. They are atheletes & no athelete can compete w/out all the training, healthy foods, praise they get. I’ve only adopted a few retirees to friends where I could see them, retirees live w/me & pass on happy @ their life expectancy. Don’t just believe what you hear, prove it to yourself by visiting a farm or kennel unannounced. I’m disabled & don’t collect disability & this is only work I can do, the Florida ban is affecting a lot of good hard working people, & the greyhounds who despite what you may have heard love to run. Look @ the difference in eyes of a racer vs the ones no longer able to do what they were born to do.

      • Cherie Miller says:

        Deal with the people that run this industry . Thats where the problem is. Bottom line.

  4. Ben Rabinowitz says:

    You are wrong. These dogs are not treated badly. The people who own and train them love these animals! They are treated with love and affection. All you are trying to do is take away the livelihood of thousands of people with all of your lies. The Greyhounds love to run and compete. You are taking away what these dogs love to do for your own feelings, and stupid agenda with all of your lies! As of right now it is off the ballot by the way. I hope the Florida supreme court does the right thing and keeps it off the ballot. Time will tell but you people are dead wrong with your opinions!

    • Kandis Miano says:

      I agree Greyhounds love to run An do it without force! It is the most beautiful thing to watch a greyhound zoom around your yard! They are grace in motion! If they didn’t like to run they won’t go out in their adopters yard An just run! You know if your gonna come down on racing, then you better go door to door as it’s more cruel that people who work 12 hrs a day An they lock their dogs up in cages while the work. How is what the humane society An other rescues having the dogs in cages 24/7 in hot cages any different, take a look at yourselves your doing nothing different! You feed your dogs at those shelters crap dog food, do you even read the ingredients on the bag, no you don’t care! At least Greyhounds get feed a solid raw food diet with fruits an vegetables An from what I’ve ever seen of Greyhounds is they are much better off being allowed to do what they love, which is racing! An their very well behaved An the most loving dogs, an are happy dogs! They adjust to living in homes very quickly An because their kept on schedules unlike all other breeds, they are more enjoyable to have around! They are the best dogs, if you take away racing your gonna have an extinct breed!

  5. Gayle Dantzler says:

    Kitty, I remember very well the early days of the HSUS’s exposure of greyhound racing cruelties — and watching the account of Frantz Dantzler’s coursing investigation on “20/20”. (Little did I know then that seven years later he would become my husband!)
    Keep up the great work! I think you’re closing in on the finish line.

  6. silvie pomicter says:

    This is such horrific abuse of dogs. We need to outlaw these cruel dog racing tracks.

  7. Gary C HUDSON says:

    Seems to me you should spend your time stopping the murder of millions of chickens, cows, baby calves, pigs, fish and on and on.
    What people spend their time worrying about is a self serving, time wasting effort.

  8. Rachel says:

    As someone who has been waiting for months to adopt a retired racing Greyhound this makes me so sad to hear. I have been waiting because of a shortage for dogs due to the decline of racing. There are not as many cruelty issues as people are led to believe as there are countless rules and laws put into place to protect the dogs. People think by voting to end racing they are protecting the dogs, when the reality is that as soon as racing ends, the Greyhound breed will slowly die off. You will no longer be able to get pure bread Greyhounds as they are only bread for the purpose of racing. It is in their biology and makeup, and they are happy to get to do it. What really needs to happen is an increase of people being educated and adopting retired racers when their life at the track comes to an end. It breaks my heart to think that I will likely be unable to obtain another Greyhound because of a law like this being passed by people who are uneducated and biased.

  9. Karen Bohaning says:

    I live in Jacksonville, Fl and wanted to see where I could get a sign for the upcoming election that bans greyhound racing . Would you be able to direct me to the appropriate source to get 2 of these signs? Thank you .

  10. Earl says:

    People should check out how many horses die every year due to racing. 100’s

    • Cherie Miller says:

      Horses raced on tracks die also and are abused. Any industry is a business and we need to remember these are liveing breathing animals. Treat them humainely.

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