Florida Senator Wants Voters to Ban Dog Racing

Lori Ennis
by Lori Ennis
Much to the chagrin of many animal lovers, dog racing is still a hot ticket in some states. Florida voters will have the opportunity to ban dog racing in the state in 2018.

Dog racing is a banned sport in 40 states in America. But in some, particularly Florida, special interest groups find it a big moneymaker, and always seem to find a way to prevent legislation banning it from going through.

Florida Senator Tom Lee says that every year, there is a bill to ban the practice, and every year, some special interest group hijacks it for leverage on other issues (or because they don’t want to ban the practice) and the bill never follows through.

Related: Shocking Stats Reveal The True Cost Of Greyhound Racing

Senator Lee says that he wants to let the citizens of Florida decide whether the practice, which is based on 12 dog tracks in the state, should be banned forever.

Lee has filed a constitutional amendment that proposes phasing out dog racing in Florida over the next three years, and he says that this is based on the recommendations of many within the industry who say that the phase-out plan is actually better for the dogs. Senator Lee said that in talking with people, a proposal that would end the practice immediately would sadly result in the shooting and killing of the dogs.

The racing of dogs is an abhorrent concept for many, especially animal rights advocates who say that the dogs, mostly greyhounds, are mistreated in poor kennels and often given performance-enhancing drugs even. Some even argue that immediate euthanasia is better than the alternative of more time racing and being treated so poorly.

In May of this year, a greyhound race trainer in St. Petersburg had his license revoked because six of his dogs tested positive for cocaine. Malcom McAllister had 40 years of experience with dog racing, and while some insist he is not representative of the industry of dog racing, many can’t help but wonder how the dogs could be treated humanely as such commodity.

Calvin Holland races his greyhounds in St. Petersburg, though, and says that his dogs are all treated like family and given good homes when they retire from racing. He says his dogs are never abused, and live good lives with families when they no longer race. His family has five generations of dog racing, and he doesn’t want to see it go because it is such tradition in his family.

Related: Arizona To Ban Greyhound Racing by End of 2016

Senator Lee says, though, that dog racing costs the state big money simply to regulate it–about $4 million dollars a year. It’s not worth the money lost, or the danger to the dogs. He also says that those who complain that ending dog racing would put thousands out of work simply is putting profit before ethics, and that just because something is money and job-making, it doesn’t make it the right thing to do.

In order for the voters to be able to have it on the ballot to decide in 2018, Senator Lee needs 2/3rd of the members of the Constitution Revision Commission to vote alongside him.

Lori Ennis
Lori Ennis

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