FL: 10 Reasons to Vote YES on Dog Racing Ban, Amendment 13
It has been an arduous battle to end the suffering of Florida's racing Greyhounds. Amendment 13, a Flordia dog racing ban, has fought its way onto the 2018 ballot. The fate of tens of thousands of dogs now lies in the hands of Florida voters, who must fill in the yes box under Amendment 13, despite deceptive attacks made by those trying to keep the deadly and antiquated industry running.
10 Reasons to Vote Yes on Amendment 13 - Listed Below
The proposal was introduced in 2017 with a timeline to gradually phase-out FL dog racing by July 2021. It was passed unanimously by the Consitution Revision Commission (CRC); a committee that meets every 20 years to consider constitution changes for voter consideration.
Revisions were made removing the specific timeline; allowing tracks the ability to phase-out dog racing at their discretion, and making the deadline July 2020. Named Amendment 13, the ban would appear as a 2018 ballot question, giving the people of Florida the final word.
The dog racing ban hit a barrier when the Florida Greyhound Association (FGA), greyhound racing and breeder lobbyist, filed a lawsuit to prevent the inclusion of the ballot question. The FGA claimed the question language was misleading, and that Amendment 13 could also negatively impact hunting and agriculture. Unfortunately, District Court Judge Karen Gievers ruled in their favor.
Those supporting the prevention of hundreds of deaths of greyhounds per year within the industry, which is also losing public interest and profitability, filed an appeal; fighting back against the false assertions by the FGA.
The Supreme Court justifiably reversed the District Court's judgment, ruling that the FGA's argument was utterly unsupported by fact and law. Amendment 13 made it back on the 2018 Florida Ballot, and Floridian's won back their right to vote on the ban.
But the FGA certainly won't relent. The association's lobbyist, Jack Cory stated last year, “The end of greyhound racing could happen in Florida, but it would happen over my dead, bloody body.”(1)
Such shortsightedness and desperation recently fueled an aligned attack on Amendment 13 by the FGA, American Kennel Club (AKC), National Rifle Association (NRA), and the Florida Farm Bureau. The organizations created a false and manipulative campaign; perpetuating the FGA's assertion that the racing ban would lead to the illegalization of hunting, family farming, breeding, and dog ownership. However, as the Supreme Court concluded, that deceptive concept does not hold up against the facts (learn more below).
For Floridian's, it's a matter of voting Yes on Amendment 13. For thousands upon thousands of dogs, it's a matter of life and death. We've made it this far; we can't give up on these animals now.
5 Reasons To Vote YES On Amendment 13
1. Deaths and Injuries
483 greyhound deaths were reported by Florida racetracks since May 2013;(2) the year the enactment of Florida Administrative Code Rule 61D-2.023 mandated such reports are filed.(3)
According to the death reports, 94% of those dogs were three years old or younger.(4) In many cases, the dogs were euthanized because their injuries sustained from racing were more costly to treat than the expense to put them down. Approximately 47% of those reported cases between 2013 and 2015 were broken legs.(5)
Dogs are also electrocuted when making contact with the mechanical lures. At 7:30 am on October 10, 2013, a puppy died on a Flagler training track when he/she "fell into the rail." The puppy was 17 months old, and according to the death notification had yet to be named.(6)(7)
Dogs also die due to poor conditions when being transported from one track to another. When asked in July about the death of eight dogs during or directly after transport, FGA lobbyist Jack Cory stated,
“Athletes die. Athletes get hurt. Athletes have heart attacks after a strenuous football game or a baseball game."(8)
During nearly one century, two athletes died during or directly after an incident during an NFL or MLB game; Chuck Huges in 1971, and Ray Chapman in 1920. While those deaths were tragic, that is in comparison to over 400 reported dog racing deaths in 5 years. Additionally, humans have the freedom to chose athletics, greyhounds bred for racing do not.
2. Cruelty and Neglect
There have been numerous cases of racetrack dogs suffering or dying due to cruelty and neglect from dog handlers and trainers. Cases include death from starvation, dehydration, or lack of treatment for injuries, such as the following example.
On July 13, 2014, a greyhound named Where's Fly In suffered a broken leg and shoulder during a race. A Palm Beach Kennel Club dog handler, Loyce Metcalfe, took the dog to the track veterinarian, Dr. Neger. According to Dr. Neger, he advised Metcalfe that the dog's injuries were repairable, but required immediate transport for emergency care. However, the dog's trainer, Michael Marsella denied Metcalfe was advised that. And instead, Marsella waited until approx. 8:15am the next morning to seek that treatment. Upon arrival, Marsella found the emergency care facility had not yet opened. So he left Where's Fly In inside the transport truck and went to train other greyhounds at the kennel. When returning to the truck about 30 minutes later, Where's Fly In was dead. (9)(10)
3. Confinement - 20-23 Hours In Small Cages
Greyhounds are kept in kennels at racetracks. The metal cages are often stacked on top of each other and are too short to allow large dogs to stand up fully. Carpet scraps or shredded paper are commonly used for bedding. An estimated 7,000-8,000 greyhounds are kept in those conditions at racetrack kennels across the state.(11)(12)
FL Kennel Size Requirement:
36”L, 24”W, 32”H
Average Greyhound Height:
27-30" at the shoulder
FL Required 'Turn-out' time:
Based on Florida racetrack kennel regulations,(13) and AKC breed information,(14) many male greyhounds or large females barely have enough room or are too tall to stand fully effect in their kennels.
Dogs are consistently kept in those kennels, only to be let out to race, or for 'turn-outs'; the industry term for taking the dog outside to relieve themselves. Those turn-outs are sometimes as short as 1 hour per day. Florida law does not require a minimum turn-out time length or frequency.(15) A 2006 state investigative report revealed that racing greyhounds are 'normally confined' for '20 to 23 hours per day.'(16)
4. Drugs Given to Race Dogs
The drugging of race dogs has been a known issue for years, including anabolic steroids, industrial solvents, and even cocaine. In June 2017, 12 greyhounds tested positive for cocaine at Bestbet Orange Park race track, contributing to a total of 18 cases within a four-month period at that track alone. According to reports, there were 62 positive cocaine tests of Florida race dogs between 2008 and 2017, per state records.(17)(18)
Despite positive test results, kennel trainers responsible for those dogs face little or no consequences. In 2014, a Mardi Gras race dog tested positive for cocaine. The dog trainer Brian Webb, and his two assistants, Tyus Hall, and Ghloam Quintero, were questioned by an investigator. All three dog handlers denied any involvement with the matter. Although charges were filed, the case was dismissed. The extent of Webb's punishment was a mere notice of Violation from the Canine Operations Supervisor.(19)
5. Profit Declines and Lack of Public Interest
The amount gamblers spent on dog racing bets in Florida has gone down by 80% since 1988, with Florida racetracks sustaining a combined loss of $35 million from wagering on greyhounds in 2012. In contrast, card tables earned those tracks a profit of $39 million the same year.(20)
When first legalized in 1931, Florida dog racetracks were considered a beacon of moneymaking light following the darkness of the Great Depression. In its first year, approximately 870,000 people attended dog races, bringing in about $333,000 in state taxes.(21)
According to reports, that tax revenue hit its peak at $80.59 million in the fiscal year 1988, with the total amount gamblers spent on bets adding up to $1.02 billion.(22)
Due to a decline in public interest, in combination with society's increasing concerns of animal cruelty within the industry, as well as the preference of card tables and slot machines, revenues from dog racing fell drastically.
For the fiscal year 2016, dog racing brought in $2.85 million in state taxes, and the amount spent on bets was $240 million; a decline of 80%.(23)
Dog races that were considered huge money-making events in the 1930's and 1980's are now a disheartening display of greyhounds literally running for their lives for endless rows of empty stands.
5 Reasons Why The Opposition Doesn't Hold Up
The primary opposition to Amendment 13 comes from the Florida Greyhound Assoc. (FGA), American Greyhound Council, American Kennel Club (AKC), Florida Farm Bureau, and Sanford-Orlando Kennel Club (greyhound race track), all of which have a financial interest in dog breeding, as well as the National Rife Assoc. (NRA), Unified Sportsmen of Florida, Future of Hunting in Florida, Florida Sportsmen United Political Committee, which are groups with utterly no stake in Amendment 13, and a list of greyhound adoption/rescue groups who publicly support greyhound racing due to grants received or pressure from the dog racing industry. Each group is making a combination of some or all of the assertions listed below.
A dog racing ban is a matter for the legislature, not the FL constitution
The legislature has attempted dog racing reform for several years to no avail, despite public support. That failure was in part due to Florida's coupling laws, as well as opposition from industry lobbyists.
Due to the decline of interest and profit gained from greyhound racing, FL enacted a 'coupling law' in 1997, which allowed dog tracks (as well as horse tracks, and jai-alai courts) to have more lucrative gambling methods, such as card tables and slot machines. If you owned a racetrack you could have the tables; if you didn't have a track, you couldn't.
Today, those tables and slot machines still generate the most profits. However, because the law still ties racetracks and tables together, casinos are essentially forced to continue live dog racing, even if they don't necessarily want to.
In 2011 and 2016 proposals to 'decouple' greyhound racing from card tables and slots failed. The FGA and other industry lobbyists fought them tooth and nail, including Disney who feared the law would cause a decline in tourism. Disney does not support the prevention of cruelty to greyhounds in the racing industry but fights decoupling laws to prevent the ruining of 'Florida's family-oriented reputation,' as it could increase the state's number of casino's.
In 2014 legislation was introduced to mandate the reporting of race dog injuries state-wide, but that also failed.
The House passed a bill illegalizing the use of anabolic steroids in greyhounds in 2017, and the Senate another this year, but they were both ultimately defeated. Again, due to industry lobbyists.
The legislature has failed greyhounds and Floridian's, despite the tireless efforts of lawmakers, animal protection organizations, and residents that oppose dog racing. A ballot question is the only way to put this in the hands of Florida residents and put an end to it for good.
Amendment 13 will lead to a ban on hunting, farming, breeding, and general dog ownership, due to the following sentence within the amendment:
"The humane treatment of animals is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida."
The opposition asserts that if the above sentence from Amendment 13 becomes part of the constitution, 'animal rights extremists' will force the State to use their definition of 'humane.' That will supposedly lead to legislation illegalizing hunting, use of farm animals, breeding and dog ownership, because some believe those activities, and the actions of dog owners (such as crating), are considered inhumane by animal advocates. Former NRA president and current executive director of the United Sportsmen of Florida, went as far as to state, "The Devil is hidden in the details of Amendment 13." Facts 2:
The Supreme Court ruled that the entire sentence is prefatory language, which lacks legal effect and is devoid of any legislative or judicial mandate. Florida's concern regarding the inhumane treatment of animals is also currently within the State's Constitution. For example:
Amendment 13 reads:
"Prohibition on racing of and wagering on greyhounds or other dogs.—
The humane treatment of animals is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida." ...
Article 10, Section 21 of the Florida Constitution reads:
"Limiting cruel and inhumane confinement of pigs during pregnancy.—
Inhumane treatment of animals is a concern of Florida citizens." ...
Those are two examples of prefatory language. The Supreme Court ruling states, "Although prefatory language may aid a court to determine legislative intent when the operative terms of a provision of a law are ambiguous, such language does not control interpretation of the operative terms of that provision."
Meaning, the prefatory is a mere introduction, with no legal effect, that clarifies what the section is about, and provides insight as to the reason behind the creation of the law within that section. The details that follow, spell out what the actual law is (AKA 'the operative terms of the provision'). Which is why so-called 'animal rights extremists' have never used Article 10, Section 21 to enact a law banning hunting, breeding, farm animals, or animal ownership, and why that would not occur if Amendment 13 passes.
Greyhounds are born to run - Racing lets them do what they love
There is a significant difference between running for enjoyment, and the exploitation and inhumane treatment dogs endure in the racing industry.
Essentially, purebreds are what humans have chosen them to be. Greyhounds have been bred to race in the US for nearly a century, and they run because that is the life they're given.
Greyhounds are gentle by nature. They're also sighthounds, which means they rely more on their sight and speed, then their hearing and endurance. They're also long, lean and muscular, with long tails that assist with their agility. It is those physical characteristics and traits that are sadly exploited by breeders and kennel clubs in order to sell or own dogs that win.
Approximately 10,000 greyhounds are bred for the racing industry each year, with about 500-1,000 kept in small kennels at each track.(24) The dogs are forced from birth into training while being taunted with lures to enhance their speed and incite a desire to chase. Such training has led to unnecessary injuries and the deaths of puppies.
Despite the molding of breeders and trainers, each dog has their own personality. All dogs require and enjoy varying levels of daily physical activity. Outside of that norm, Greyhounds have often been known to pick a comfy couch over extended play time. However, If they do run, it should be because they choose to, not because they're forced to for gambling purposes. And certainly never when it is at the high risk of injury or death as it is on racetracks.
Without dog racing, greyhounds won't be bred anymore, causing citizens to lose greyhounds as the current 'athletes they know and love,' and the population will plummet.
Most residents know and love dogs as family members who provide love, companionship, and happiness. Greyhounds are no different. Responsible breeding may exist without the racing industry, as opposed to the overpopulation caused by it.
A ban on dog racing will not prevent the responsible breeding of greyhounds. Responsible breeding undoubtedly does not include the excessive overpopulation of Greyhounds which occurs by the thousands in the racing industry per year. That immense amount of overbreeding leads to the depletion of valuable resources needed to help other animals, and contributes to animal cruelty and the euthanasia of healthy dogs.
Greyhound Adoption/Rescues with hands-on experience oppose the ban, and they're the ones who should know best.
Numerous greyhound-specific adoption groups are either funded by or pressured into supporting dog racing from the American Greyhound Council; the public relations organization created to promote greyhound breeding and the dog racing industry.
Florida law requires that each greyhound racetrack facility have a dog adoption booth.(25) Racetracks have no use for dogs that are not winning, in combination with the overbreeding that occurs in the industry, it is beneficial to encourage adoption of their 'discarded' dogs; making the racing industry more appealing to the public.
In their own words, "The American Greyhound Council (AGC) was established in 1987 to fund and manage greyhound welfare, research and adoption programs for the racing community. It is a joint effort of the National Greyhound Association, the official greyhound registry and breeding organization; and the American Greyhound Track Operators Association."
The AGC accomplishes their purpose through grants to adoption groups, such as the Greyhound Pets of America (GPA).(26)
The GPA is one of the hundreds of greyhound-specific adoption groups in the US, which focuses solely on the placement of racing dogs. The GPA has 39 chapters across the nation,(27) and is opposed to banning dog racing.
A similar adoption group, Greyhound Adopters 4 Racing are not only opposed to Amendment 13, but blatantly disregard any cruelty occurs in the industry. Their website currently states, "Greyhound racing is NOT “cruel and inhumane” to the Greyhounds, and should be continued, in the best longterm interests of our breed."
If adoption groups working with the AGC were to support a ban on dog racing publicly, they not only would lose their grants, but they would likely be discarded like the used-up greyhounds from the track. The National Greyhound Association has made it clear that they refuse to work with any adoption groups who do not support racing.(28)
How Many US States Have Banned Dog Racing?
40 states in the US have banned dog racing
Some assert that is untrue out of blind opposition to a ban or lack of research. Existing dog racing bans are not always easy to find within the law. For instance, NH banned dog racing in 2010. When looking at NH state laws regarding horse and dog racing (NH RSA Title XXIV, Chapter 284), the sections regarding live dog racing were repealed, so there are no words specifically stating live dog racing is lawful, but the repeal of those sections means that it is not. The ban can be further confirmed by obtaining a copy of the laws as they were written before being repealed, or by reviewing the history for the bill that enacted it, HB 630.
States with active dog racetracks
Alabama - 1 Track
Arkansas - 1 Track
Florida - 11 Tracks
Iowa - 1 Track
Texas - 1 Track
West Virginia - 2 Tracks
States with no tracks, dog racing lawful
Do any racetracks support a ban on dog racing?
Despite common misconception, not all racetracks wish to continue dog racing. According to reports, some tracks supported the "decoupling law" proposed in 2011.(29) That law would've allowed casinos to shut down their racetracks while keeping their tables and slot machines (which is currently unlawful in FL). Since that bill was defeated, it's now a matter of working with opportunities for change under current law and having the honor to do what's right. Magic City, the former owner of Flagler Dog Track, has done just that.
Last year, Magic City was granted authorization from the State to replace dog races with jai-alai matches. According to the Miami Herald, the change was made possible due to "a 1980 Florida law allowing pari-mutuels in Miami-Dade and Broward counties that have the lowest betting handle for two consecutive years to convert to summer jai-alai permits."(30)
They have shut down their dog track and June 29, 2018 was their last race.
The jai-alai court costs less money to run than an unpopular racetrack and takes up less space; allowing increased space for the more lucrative slots, poker tables, and live shows.
What Will Happen to the thousands of Greyhounds at tracks if dog racing is banned?
If Amendment 13 passes, it will become constitutional law immediately. However, the amendment includes a phase-out period, with the ban taking effect on July 1, 2020. During that time frame, dogs can gradually be placed by adoption groups into loving forever homes. Simultaneously, breeders within the dog racing industry must discontinue their current overproduction of greyhounds.
There are currently 11 racetracks in Florida with an approximate 500-1,000 dogs confined within their kennels per year. If those dogs do not die on the track and are not euthanized due to injuries, they would require adoption after their short racing careers, regardless.
Amendment 13 will put an end to that dishearting cycle of cruelty, allowing the dogs living at Florida racetracks between now and 2020, to be the last.
(1) Duncan Strauss, 'Greyhound races are a thing of the past. Here’s why Florida still hasn’t learned that.', Jun 16, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2017/06/16/greyhound-races-are-a-thing-of-the-past-heres-why-florida-still-hasnt-learned-that/?utm_term=.e809ad9929e5, (last visited Nov 2, 2018)
(2) Protect Dogs, Yes on 13, About, https://protectdogs.org/about (Last visited Nov 2, 2018)
(3) Florida Administrative Code Rule 61D-2.023, https://www.flrules.org/gateway/RuleNo.asp?title=ENFORCEMENT&ID=61D-2.023, Click 'View Rule' (Last visited Nov 2, 2018)
(4) Protect Dogs, Yes on 13, About, https://protectdogs.org/about (Last visited Nov 2, 2018)
(5) Amelia Cook, 'High Stakes Greyhound Racing in the US', 2015, Pg 30, https://www.grey2kusa.org/pdf/USreportWeb.pdf
(6) Amelia Cook, 'The Final Lap, Greyhound Deaths at Florida Racetracks in 2013', 2014, Pg 4, https://grey2kusa.org/pdf/FLdeaths.pdf
(7) Allie Conti, 'Florida Greyhound Deaths: 131 Dogs Killed Last Year at State Tracks,' Jul 28, 2014, https://www.browardpalmbeach.com/news/florida-greyhound-deaths-131-dogs-killed-last-year-at-state-tracks-6438954 (Last visited Nov 2, 2018)
(8) Jake Stofan, 'Anti-racing advocates call attention to greyhound hauling,' https://www.news4jax.com/news/florida/anti-racing-advocates-call-attention-to-greyhound-hauling, Jul 6, 2018 (Last visited Nov 2, 2018)
(9) Amelia Cook, 'High Stakes Greyhound Racing in the US', 2015, Pg 36, https://www.grey2kusa.org/pdf/USreportWeb.pdf
(10) Chris Joseph, 'Palm Beach Kennel Club Bans Trainer Who Let Greyhound Suffer and Die,' Sept 10, 2015, https://www.browardpalmbeach.com/news/palm-beach-kennel-club-bans-trainer-who-let-greyhound-suffer-and-die-7248290 (Last visited Nov 2, 2018)
(11) Grey2K USA, Greyhound Racing in Florida, https://www.grey2kusa.org/about/states/fl.php (Last visited Nov 2, 2018
(12) Duncan Strauss, 'Greyhound races are a thing of the past. Here’s why Florida still hasn’t learned that.', Jun 16, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2017/06/16/greyhound-races-are-a-thing-of-the-past-heres-why-florida-still-hasnt-learned-that/?utm_term=.e809ad9929e5, (Last visited Nov 2, 2018)
(13) Florida Administrative Code Rule 61D-2.023, https://www.flrules.org/gateway/RuleNo.asp?title=ENFORCEMENT&ID=61D-2.023, Click 'View Rule' (Last visited Nov 2, 2018)
(14) American Kennel Club, 'Greyhound Overview' (Per standard practice, heights are listed based on length from foot to shoulder), https://www.akc.org/dog-breeds/greyhound/#panel-1, (Last visited Nov 2, 2018)
(15) Florida Administrative Code Rule 61D-2.023, https://www.flrules.org/gateway/RuleNo.asp?title=ENFORCEMENT&ID=61D-2.023, Click 'View Rule' (Last visited Nov 2, 2018)
(16) Protect Dogs, Yes on 13, About, https://protectdogs.org/about (Last visited Nov 2, 2018)
(17) Kyle Swenson, 'Dog racing ‘has a drug problem’ as 12 Florida greyhounds test positive for cocaine', Jul 6, 2017, https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2017/07/06/dog-racing-has-a-drug-problem-as-12-florida-greyhounds-test-positive-for-cocaine/?utm_term=.2a8eef67b900 (Last visited Nov 2, 2018)
(18) Jeanne Blaylock, Meilin Tompkins, '12 greyhounds test positive for cocaine at FL race track,' June 29, 2017, https://www.firstcoastnews.com/article/news/crime/12-greyhounds-test-positive-for-cocaine-at-fl-race-track/77-451549602 (Last visited Nov 2, 2018)
(19) Chris Joseph, 'Mardi Gras Casino Greyhound Tests Positive for Cocaine, but State Fails to Punish Trainer,' Aug 14, 2015, https://www.browardpalmbeach.com/news/mardi-gras-casino-greyhound-tests-positive-for-cocaine-but-state-fails-to-punish-trainer-7182916 (Last visited Nov 2, 2018)
(20) Spectrum Gaming Group, 'Gambling Impact Study,' October 28, 2013, Pg 84, http://www.leg.state.fl.us/gamingstudy/docs/FGIS_Spectrum_28Oct2013.pdf
(21) Erin Greenwood, 'Legal quirk lets struggling Florida greyhound tracks boost income with other types of gambling,' http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/florida_greyhound_gaming_law (Last visited Nov 2, 2018)
(22) Erin Greenwood, 'Legal quirk lets struggling Florida greyhound tracks boost income with other types of gambling,' http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/florida_greyhound_gaming_law (Last visited Nov 2, 2018)
(23) “Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering 85th Annual Report Fiscal Year 2015-2016," Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, January 25, 2017, http://www.myfloridalicense.com/dbpr/pmw/documents/AnnualReports/AnnualReport-2015-2016--85th--20170125.pdf
(24) Amelia Cook, 'High Stakes Greyhound Racing in the US', Pg 11, https://www.grey2kusa.org/pdf/USreportWeb.pdf
(25) Fla. Stat. §550. 1648, https://www.flsenate.gov/Laws/Statutes/2017/550.1648 (Last visited Nov 2, 2018)
(26) American Greyhound Council, 'Adoption Program/Adoption Grants,' https://www.agcouncil.com/adoption-programs/ (Last visited Nov 2. 2018)
(27) Greyhound Pets of America, 'Chapters, http://www.greyhoundpets.org/chapters.php (Last visited Nov 2. 2018)
(28) Amelia Cook, 'High Stakes Greyhound Racing in the US', Pg 49, https://www.grey2kusa.org/pdf/USreportWeb.pdf
(29) Erin Greenwood, 'Legal quirk lets struggling Florida greyhound tracks boost income with other types of gambling,' http://www.abajournal.com/magazine/article/florida_greyhound_gaming_law, (Last visited Nov 2, 2018)
(30) Dara Kam, 'State grants Miami track’s request to let the dogs out, play jai-alai instead,' Jul 20, 2017, https://www.miamiherald.com/news/local/community/miami-dade/article162762093.html (Last visited Nov 2. 2018)