Florida Voters Overwhemingly Ban Greyhound Racing But Not All Are Happ
On November 6, Florida voters chose to pass Amendment 13, which put an end to greyhound racing in the state. Currently, Florida is the home of 11 of the nations 17 greyhound race tracks, and it’s a multi-million dollar (though ever-declining) industry.
But now, nearly 70% of Florida’s voters chose to ban betting on greyhound racing, making it the 41st state in the country that will no longer have race tracks of their own as of 2020. Stephen Wells is the Executive Director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund and says that the historic vote makes Florida a more humane state. Saying that it will end the cycle of cruelty to victimized states and that now greyhounds will be able to retire and run on their own terms, instead of being forced to run or spend most days in cages, Wells believes this was the right choice for protecting Florida’s greyhounds.
But not everyone is happy about the amendment’s passing, including many animal advocate and greyhound rescue groups. Opponents say that they are concerned about the unclear amendment in the wording that may jeopardize other dog sports–including agility and flyball competitions. They’re concerned the vague wording puts even charity races like ‘weiner dog’ or ‘powderRuff’ events in jeopardy of being illegal as well. The amendment’s specific terminology is this:
- “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. After December 31, 2020, a person authorized to conduct gaming or pari-mutuel operations may not race greyhounds or any member of the Canis Familiaris subspecies in connection with any wager for money or any other thing of value in this state, and persons in this state may not wager money or any other thing of value on the outcome of a live dog race occurring in this state. The failure to conduct greyhound racing or wagering on greyhound racing after December 31, 2018, does not constitute grounds to revoke or deny renewal of other related gaming licenses held by a person who is a licensed greyhound permitholder on January 1, 2018, and does not affect the eligibility of such permit holder, or such permitholder’s facility, to conduct other pari-mutuel activities authorized by general law. By general law, the legislature shall specify civil or criminal penalties for violations of this section and for activities that aid or abet violations of this section.”
Advocates of the amendment say that while the wording does include ‘other dogs’ and ‘live dog racing,’ it specifically addresses the issue of greyhound use and abuse, and they believe that is the right step in protecting generations of greyhounds.
Related: 8 Great Things About Greyhounds
Additionally, the end of the ‘sport’ will also mean that rescues will need help now more than ever in order to help find loving homes and alternatives to the over 8,000 greyhounds and breed stock that are currently living in Florida. With the dogs no longer able to be bred to run, or to run, it’s presumed the rescues will be flooded with dogs useless to their ‘owners.’
If you want to help, look into your local greyhound rescue agencies and see what you can do to help the transition for these wonderful dogs as easy as it can be.
More by Lori Ennis