VICTORY! In California, voters have approved Proposition 12, a historic measure that will improve the lives of tens of millions of farm animals by prohibiting cruel cage confinement of egg-laying hens, pigs used for breeding, and calves raised for veal in small cages that immobilize them their entire lives.
This is a huge win. Prop 12 has been called the world’s strongest animal welfare standard and it has the power to set a precedent for the better treatment of farm animals worldwide. We are grateful to the army of HSUS and coalition staff and volunteers who worked tirelessly for this incredible outcome today, and to California for once again showing us why it consistently ranks as the nation’s most animal-friendly state.
VICTORY! The race is over, and the greyhounds have won! Within just over an hour of the polls closing in Florida, we know the outcome; Amendment 13 has passed. Floridians – like countless millions of Americans – want nothing to do with the sordid enterprise of greyhound racing.
Nine states still allow greyhound racing, but Florida was its last remaining stronghold in the United States, with 11 of the 17 racetracks in the country. Now that the bell has tolled in Florida, it won’t be long before greyhound racing becomes a relic of the past. Our coalition partners, our staff members, and our tremendous HSUS volunteers have been working for a long time to achieve this historic outcome, and I congratulate each one of them on this victory. Let’s celebrate!
7:40 p.m.: Here’s an update on Proposition 12 from Crystal Moreland, HSUS state director for California:
The crowds at the polls are picking up as we head into the final hours of voting. Our team in West Hollywood has continued to receive overwhelming expressions of support from voters. Jason, a resident of West Hollywood, said, “I did signature gathering on this campaign, it was the first time I’ve even engaged politically and I couldn’t be more proud to cast my ballot and bring it home.”
Nancy Neff, also a resident of West Hollywood, said this ballot campaign has reinvigorated her spirit and was the motivating factor that got her to go out and vote today.
7:15 p.m.: Earlier today, my colleagues and I passed by the Derby Lane racetrack in Tampa, said to be the oldest continuously operating greyhound racing track in the world. We are all smiles, as you can see in the photo, because we are hopeful that the cruelty’s going to end today. But being here was a chilling reminder of what racing greyhounds in Florida and nine other states endure.
The polls have already closed in most of Florida, and now begins the wait for the results, which will trickle in throughout the evening. We saw great voter turnout today and lots of enthusiasm on the ground. Hundreds of voters shared stories of their own racing greyhounds and expressed their desire to end greyhound racing.
A few hours more of voting remain in California, and reports from the ground there also indicate a strong turnout. What a night it’ll be if we win in both states.
I will be heading out now to watch the results as they roll in, with staff and volunteers. Stay tuned for more updates on this blog.
Here’s a clip of an interview I did today with WFLA News Channel 8 on Amendment 13.
4.45 p.m.: It’s been a busy but exhilarating day here in Florida. I have been traveling to various polling places around Tampa, meeting many former racing dogs and their amazing parents, like Don Goldstein. Don is an HSUS district leader and volunteers for GREAT (Greyhound Rescue & Adoptions of Tampa). He’s been advocating to end greyhound racing for years and regularly brings his former racers, Jazzy and Mira, with him up to the state capital to push for reform.
For anyone who has yet to be convinced about how tough the lives of racing greyhounds are, here is a powerful undercover video we produced, shot at the Palm Beach Kennel Club.
3.55 p.m.: Sean Hennessy, food and nutrition events coordinator for the Humane Society of the United States, has been in Orange County, California, holding a “Vote yes on Prop 12” sign in front of the county’s central polling location. He spoke with a number of people about their reasons for voting on this history-making measure.
“I just don’t want to see any cruelty to any animals at all. That’s just how me and my family see it,” said Tish Buss from Dana Point.
“This is my first time voting ever… I don’t believe animals should suffer the way they suffer, being contained in those cages that they are. It’s cruel, it’s not right,” said Jonathan Lopez from Tustin
Katharine Russell from Orange, who is a vegetarian, told Sean she voted yes because she cares about “all creatures, great and small.” Katherine had a stroke last year and is paralyzed on her left side, but so eager was she to vote on Prop 12 that she made the trek in her wheelchair and by bus, with her partner’s support.
3:25 p.m.: Over the years we’ve heard so many stories about former racing greyhounds who continue to feel the ill effects of their years on the track even after they have been adopted into loving homes. This account by Jerry Iannelli about his dog, Bowie, in Miami New Times is evocative and a strong reminder why greyhound racing needs to end, from someone who understands first-hand the suffering that these dogs endure after their racing lives end.
“The barbarity and horror of the dog-racing industry becomes clearer only once you’ve spent time with a retired racing dog and seen how naturally loving, gentle, and lazy the dogs truly are. They are not workhorses,” Iannelli writes, calling for Floridians to vote yes on Amendment 13. You can read his full piece here.
2.30 p.m.: Watch my Facebook Live post from Tampa with two retired racing greyhounds, Clipper and Leia, who spent years on the racetracks where they were confined in small cages, drugged and forced to run for entertainment. Leia was on the racetracks for five years until she was injured and Clipper never won a race, so they labeled him a “loser.” Luckily both Leia and Clipper are now in loving homes, but thousands of greyhounds still need your help.
12.35 p.m.: In California we are working to pass Proposition 12, which would create the strongest farm animal welfare standard in the world, and for this reason, we are expecting one of the highest midterm election voter turnout in decades. Prop 12 would prohibit the confinement of egg-laying hens, pigs used for breeding, and calves raised for veal in cages or crates so small that they are essentially immobilized for their whole lives. Our colleagues, including Vice President of Farm Animal Protection Josh Balk and California State Director Crystal Moreland, along with campaign coalition partners are out in full force, working the polls with hundreds of volunteers across the state.
Josh has spent the last few days standing at street corners in a pig suit, raising awareness about the measure. A vast coalition of partners did the work to get Prop 12 to the ballot, collecting 660,000 signatures and setting the stage for this momentous vote that would create a precedent for how billions of farm animals are treated globally.
10:05 a.m.: I am in Tampa, Florida, today, where we’re backing a critical ballot measure to ban greyhound racing in the Sunshine State. Florida is the last standing bastion of this cruel “sport,” with 11 of the 17 remaining racetracks in the country, and a blow to the industry here would result in its inevitable demise.
We have an army of HSUS staff and volunteers on the ground today, including HSUS Florida State Director Kate MacFall, who has led this important fight on our behalf, and other key senior HSUS staff. Our ProtectDogs volunteers are outside polling places, holding up their distinctive “Yes on 13” signs, and they have already reported that people are walking up to them to thank them for their work. Our Grassroots Outreach Manager Emily Spivak was joined outside one of the polling places by Florida state Sen. Tom Lee, who originally introduced this measure before the Florida Constitution Revision Commission.
I’ll be visiting polling places around Tampa today, meeting many former racetrack dogs and the people who adopted them. Stay tuned for more updates from Florida and from California, where we are pushing to get another critical ballot measure on farm animals across the line.