Victory for Florida’s Greyhounds!

By Stephen Wells, November 2018
Photo by Derek Story on Unsplash

Photo by Derek Story on Unsplash

This week Florida residents voted overwhelmingly to end the cruel greyhound racing industry. Approximately 5.4 million voters supported Amendment 13 which phases out commercial greyhound racing in the state by 2020. The initiative easily passed with 69% of voters in favor.

Dogs exploited for the racing industry suffer greatly. Greyhounds are kept for 20 to 23 hours a day in tiny warehouse-style metal cages often so small that dogs cannot stand up or turn around. Dogs are routinely drugged. In order to keep female dogs racing, they are regularly injected with anabolic steroids. And more than 400 racing greyhounds tested positive for dangerous drugs including cocaine and oxycodone in the last decade.

While greyhound racing still exists in a handful of other states, Amendment 13 dealt a serious blow to the industry overall. There are only 17 dog racing tracks operating in the United States – 11 are in Florida. Despite this, few Floridians supported greyhound racing financially. Over the last thirty years, tax revenue from dog racing dropped by 98%. Further, a state commissioned study found Florida loses more than $1 million annually because the cost of regulation outstrips revenues. 

The reason that the industry continued, despite losing the support of the vast majority of Floridians years ago, is a 1997 law that requires dog racing track owners to continue offering dog races if they offer poker and slot machines. Amendment 13 overturns that law by prohibiting racing along with betting on live dog races in Florida.

The Animal Legal Defense Fund is proud to have played a role in ending dog racing in Florida. Thanks to the hard work of countless volunteers, animal protection organizations, and compassionate Floridians, racing greyhounds now have a brighter future. Florida voters also sent a clear message to legislators, and the rest of the country, that their state values animals. Amendment 13 is not only a win for Florida’s greyhounds but also animals across the state.  

Photo by Rainer Hungershausen

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.

Stephen Wells is executive director of Animal Legal Defense Fund.

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