Florida's electorate has spoken, and Amendment 13, which bans greyhound racing in Florida by 2020, has passed. Sixty-nine percent of Floridians voted to pass Amendment 13.
The amendment's passage effectively shuts down the sport at 11 dog tracks across Florida – more tracks than the rest of the country combined. Under the new law, track owners will be allowed to keep their gambling permits if they agree to halt dog racing by 2019, meaning former tracks may still operate as card or slot rooms – which is where the bulk of the businesses' money comes from, anyway.
Florida now falls in step with 40 other states that have outlawed dog racing. According to the nonprofit greyhound advocacy group Grey2k USA Worldwide, there are currently about 8,000 racing greyhounds in Florida.
Stephen Wells, the executive director of the Animal Legal Defense Fund gave us this statement, “For decades the Florida legislature failed to protect greyhounds abused by the racing industry. Today voters made a historic choice to make Florida a more humane state. Amendment 13 puts an end to the cycle of cruelty that victimized greyhounds in the state for far too long. These social dogs will soon be able to retire and enjoy running on their own terms, without being forced to spend most of their days in cages or being drugged to enhance their performance.”
This ban had rescue organizations on both sides of the debate. With over 8,000 dogs in the system, the racing authority raised unlikely allies in the support of continuing the dog races by promising not to give dogs to rescues who supported the ban. With the outlook looking grim if rescues were not allowed dogs, many groups supported the opposition to the ban. Now with the ban in place and racing to come to an end by 2020, we will be monitoring what happens to these wonderful dogs and hope that they will have a happy ending. Rescue groups are now concerned with the influx of dogs and whether they can all be saved. The Lowcountry’s Greyhound group GREYHOUND PETS OF AMERICA- CHARLESTON will be helping re home racers so if you would like to support them go to www.adoptcharlestongreys.org
“Because of the decisions of millions of Florida voters, thousands of dogs will be spared the pain and suffering that is inherent in the greyhound racing industry,” said Kitty Block, acting president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “We are so grateful to the volunteers, campaign members, coalition partners, contributors and endorsers who came together in support of this historic effort to end the cruelty of greyhound racing.”
COVER PHOTO BY Jeremy Reper
SOURCES: ORLANDO WEEKLY and ORLANDO SENTINEL
CHECK OUT OUR RESCUE SPOTLIGHT ON GREYHOUND PETS OF AMERICA