To stop Greyhound racing cruelty
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One of the most frustrating aspects of politics is watching good ideas fail because special interests with deep pockets want to protect status quo.
An example of one of these ideas involves protecting greyhounds. Over the past decade, a diverse coalition of grassroots citizens and humane-minded lawmakers fought to help these gentle dogs. Meanwhile, the powerful greyhound industry opposed any real reform, including bills to report injuries and outlaw anabolic steroids. In recent months, industry lobbyists even circulated a bill to legalize dosing greyhounds with cocaine.
It’s time for this issue to get a fair hearing, which is why I support Proposal 67 in Florida’s Constitution Revision Commission. This good measure would phase out commercial greyhound racing by 2020.
The Greyhound Protection Amendment would reduce gambling by more than $200 million a year — a step that will put tax dollars back into the pockets of hard-working families across the state. This is because the state spends between $1 million and $3.3 million of your tax dollars annually to subsidize this dying industry since regulatory costs exceed revenues.
This amendment would also continue Florida’s tradition of leadership on animal welfare issues. Most racing greyhounds live in cruel and inhumane conditions, confined in metal cages that are barely large enough for them to stand up or turn around. The dogs are given shredded paper or carpet remnants for bedding, and are normally confined for 20 to 23 hours per day.
According to state records, 448 dogs have died at Florida dog tracks since the state began tracking greyhound deaths in 2013. On average, a racing dog dies in our state every three days. Greyhounds also routinely suffer serious injuries, including broken legs and broken backs.
Over the past decade there have been 419 greyhound-drug positives at Florida tracks, including 68 greyhound cocaine positives, and positive results for novocaine, lidocaine, industrial solvent DMSO, and opiates oxycodone and oxymorphone. Females are routinely given anabolic steroids so they can keep racing. We wouldn’t treat our pets this way, and greyhounds deserve better.
It’s no surprise that industry lobbyists are using scare tactics and exaggerated job claims to attack this amendment. They claim this issue doesn’t belong in the Constitution, even though commercial dog racing is cited repeatedly in our foundational document. You can bet that if we tried to phase out greyhound racing in the Legislature, the same dog track lobbyists would claim that it can only be done via a constitutional amendment.
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