Greyhounds are at a disadvantage even before they are born. Thousands are bred annually—many more than are needed to race—in an attempt to create the fastest dogs. These social dogs are forced to spend most of their time alone, confined in warehouse-style kennels with rows of double –stacked cages for 20-23 hours a day. Many racing dogs suffer injuries while racing, and according to state records a racing greyhound dies every three days on a Florida track. Twelve of the remaining 18 greyhound racetracks in the country are in Florida.
What does this Amendment do?
Amendment 13 will phase out commercial greyhound racing by 2020. Other gaming activities at these facilities will not be affected. It will help thousands of dogs, and reduce gambling by roughly $200 million per year.
This proposal will allow the people of Florida to do what the legislature has failed to do: rid the state of dog racing and put an end to this cycle of cruelty.
Where is it in the process?
Amendment 13 will appear before Florida voters on Election Day this November.
What is wrong with greyhound racing?
Greyhound racing is cruel and inhumane, and there is no place for it in the modern era. When it first emerged in the United States in the early twentieth century, supporters did not know that hundreds of thousands of dogs would suffer and die.
Since then, our society has evolved and dog racing is out of sync with society’s values toward animals. Today this kind of wasteful and needless suffering is rejected as a form of gambling or entertainment. According to government records now available, common racing injuries include broken necks and broken backs, dislocations, torn muscles, and paralysis. Electrocutions have also occurred when dogs make contact with a track’s high voltage lure. Some dogs die on the racetrack while others are put down due to the severity of their injuries, or simply because of their diminished value as racers.
Aren’t greyhounds used for racing well-cared for?
Racing greyhounds endure lives of confinement, are subject to standard practices that are cruel, suffer injuries and even death. Greyhounds used for racing are kept in cages, barely large enough for them to stand up or turn around, for up to 23 hours per day. Shredded paper or carpet remnants are used as bedding.
From 2008 through 2018, more than 15,000 greyhound injuries have been documented nationwide. This is a notable underestimate since injuries do not have to be reported in either Alabama or Florida. Despite Florida’s lack of transparency, some compelling data has trickled out. Dogs suffer broken legs, broken backs, and are even electrocuted. Since May of 2017, 64 dogs have been injured at Sanford Orlando Kennel Club including 51 dogs that suffered broken bones and three dogs that died.
Since reporting of dog deaths became mandatory in Florida in 2013, 458 racing greyhounds have died. A greyhound dies at a Florida dog track every three days, on average, with 94% of the dogs being three years old or younger.
Does greyhound racing contribute to dog overpopulation?
Yes. Nearly 10,000 greyhounds are bred for the racing industry each year. The racing industry promotes and exacerbates an overproduction of dogs, resulting in an annual surplus numbering in the thousands. These dogs displace other homeless animals and divert resources needed to address other animal welfare challenges.
How does the American public feel about greyhound racing?
Increased public awareness that dog racing is cruel and inhumane, in addition to competition from other forms of gambling, has led to the nationwide decline of greyhound racing. A 2018 poll showed that 70% of Floridians support ending greyhound racing.
Increasingly, citizens around the country are mobilizing in opposition to greyhound racing and lawmakers are responding. In 2017, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed legislation to prohibit dog racing in his state, declaring that “[g]reyhound racing has run its course in Arizona. It’s heartening that these beautiful greyhounds will soon be off the track and into loving homes.” Other states that have passed legislation prohibiting dog racing over the last decade include Massachusetts (2010), Rhode Island (2010), New Hampshire (2010) and Colorado (2014). South Dakota allowed its authorization for live dog racing to expire in December 2011.
Is greyhound racing inhumane?
Yes. Approximately 8,000 greyhounds live at Florida track kennel compounds. These compounds are comprised of long narrow buildings with “turn-out” pens: fenced-in dirt runs where dogs are “turned out” and allowed to relieve themselves. In these compounds, dogs are kept in warehouse-style kennels in rows of stacked metal cages. According to state records, dog track cages measure 36 inches, by 36 inches, by 42 inches. Shredded paper or carpet remnants are used as bedding. According to a 2006 state investigative report, racing greyhounds are “normally confined” for “20 to 23 hours per day.”
Do greyhounds die on tracks?
Yes. Since the state began tracking greyhound death data in 2013, 458 greyhound deaths have been reported. 94% of these dogs were three years old or younger. On average, a greyhound dies at a Florida dog track every three days.
Individual Dogs who Died at Florida Racetracks:
A greyhound named B’s Moody Too was destroyed on July 19, 2017 after suffering a broken leg during a race at Orange Park. She was two years old when she died.
On January 25, 2016 a two-year-old greyhound named DDM’s Orion died at Orange Park. According to a state investigative report, Orion “rolled in the turn coming out of the starting box” and broke his neck. The track veterinarian told investigators that Orion “was non-responsive” and he believed the injury “to be a fractured neck or spine.”
An eighteen month old greyhound named PorPorPitifullMe died at Palm Beach Kennel Club on the afternoon of November 18, 2014. According to track notes the lure malfunctioned, PorPorPitifullMe “attempted to jump the rail” and she was electrocuted.
On January 11, 2014 a three-year-old greyhound named Al E Mony collapsed and died after a race at Pensacola Greyhound Track. According to a state investigative report, she “was deceased before the leadout could get her to the veterinarian’s office.”
A four-year-old greyhound named Backwood Turner died after suffering a catastrophic spinal injury during a race at Sanford Orlando Kennel Club on November 20, 2014. According to a state investigative report, Turner “went down right out of the box.” The track veterinarian found that he “suffered a spinal disc rupture” and two days later he was destroyed.
A two-year-old greyhound named Facebook died after suffering a broken leg during a race at Daytona Beach Kennel Club on May 31, 2013. According to state records, Facebook “fell causing a compound fracture.” Rather than be given to an adoption group, Facebook was destroyed by the track veterinarian.
On December 21, 2014 a three-year-old greyhound named Kiowa Kay Light died after suffering a broken leg during a race at Orange Park. According to a state investigative report, Kay “suffered a compound fracture of the right rear leg,” and was destroyed.
On November 30, 2013 a two-year-old greyhound named Pretty Gorgeous died at Orange Park. In her 95 career race she was “trampled” and “fell early.” According to a state investigative report she suffered a racing injury and was destroyed by the Track Veterinarian.
A three-year-old greyhound named RCK Untouchable died after suffering a broken leg at Sarasota Kennel Club on December 12, 2014. According to a state investigative report, an examination found “a compound fracture of the right hock” and Untouchable was destroyed.
Are dogs injured in greyhound racing?
Yes. Florida is one of only two states, with Alabama, that does not publicly report greyhound injuries. Seminole County recently passed a local greyhound protection ordinance requiring injuries to be reported. Since May of 2017, 64 greyhound injuries have been reported including 51 dogs that suffered broken bones and 3 dogs that died.
Are there other welfare concerns with greyhound racing?
Yes. At least eight notable cases of greyhound neglect have been documented in the Florida greyhound racing industry over the past decade. Individuals convicted of violent felonies have been licensed as greyhound trainers, after being given special waivers by the state. The state has failed to discipline greyhound trainers for drug violations and animal neglect in a timely and consistent manner.
Is the greyhound industry in decline?
Yes. Commercial greyhound racing is now illegal in 40 states. Since 1990, the amount wagered on greyhound racing in Florida has declined by 74% and state revenue has declined by 98%. At its peak in 1991, $3.5 billion was wagered on dog races at more than 60 tracks in 19 states. Today, there are 18 dog tracks left in 6 states, with roughly $500 million wagered from all sources. According to state filings, in 2016 Florida dog tracks lost a combined $34.8 million on racing.
Does greyhound racing cost Florida tax payers money?
Yes. According to a February 2017 letter from the Department of Business and Professional Regulation, total dog racing revenue for FY 2015/16 was $2.5 million, while the state spent $1.58 million on greyhound drug testing and $507K on OPS personnel costs. The agency declined to fully account for all personnel costs related to the regulation of dog racing. According to a report done for the legislature by the Spectrum Gaming Group, when all costs are considered, the state lost between $1 million and $3.3 million on greyhound racing in 2013. State revenue has only declined further since this analysis.
Are greyhounds used in racing drugged?
Yes. 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. Greyhound breeders claim cocaine positives are from environmental contamination, a ridiculous theory that has never been proven in a single case. The state agrees this scenario is unlikely: “The Division finds it is much more likely that a prohibited substance is provided to a racing animal purposely by the animal’s trainer.”
Are greyhounds used in racing given anabolic steroids?
Yes. Female greyhounds are routinely given an anabolic steroid to prevent a loss of race days. In 2017 legislative testimony, the Florida Greyhound Association estimated that 50% of female dogs are given this drug. This practice is outlawed in greyhound racing in Great Britain, Australia and New Zealand, due to integrity and animal welfare concerns. Industry handbook Care of the Racing and Retired Greyhound states that anabolic steroid use can result in serious harmful side effects including increased aggression and virilization. According to the Merck Veterinary Manual: “Longterm suppression of estrus by using androgens is not advised, because it is not documented to be safe in breeding bitches ... the safety and efficacy of injectable testosterone, as practiced commonly in racing Greyhounds, has not been supported by controlled studies and is not advised.”
What are racing greyhounds fed?
To reduce costs, greyhounds are fed raw meat from dead, dying, diseased or disabled animals (called “4-D meat”) that has been deemed unfit for human consumption. Denatured charcoal is added to 4-D meat to prevent human use. The industry uses this substandard meat to cut costs. According to an industry handbook, this meat is used because “it is the most economically feasible for the Greyhound industry at this time.” On January 17, 2017 seventy-two dogs fell ill and a dog died at Sanford Orlando Kennel Club due to the use of 4-D meat. A similar case occurred in 2014 at Daytona Beach Kennel Club. Greyhounds are particularly at risk of becoming ill from pathogens such as salmonella and E-coli, because they are fed raw 4-D meat. Greyhound trainers refuse to cook the meat because they believe it would cause dogs to be less competitive.
Is disease transmission a concern with greyhound racing?
Yes. The very structure of the dog racing industry enables the spread of contagious diseases. Because hundreds of dogs live at racetracks in warehouse-style kennels, when one dog becomes ill, many more are exposed. The confinement of dogs in small spaces, the high density of dogs at tracks, and the transportation of dogs across state lines for racing, all allow diseases to be spread faster and further than they otherwise would. It is the perfect storm for the transmission of disease – stressed, poorly socialized animals moved around in a nationwide circuit to advance the profits of the industry. When illnesses strike, quarantines are imposed at the will of track owners, who have strong financial incentives to keep the dogs racing.
Would the industry consider reform without being legally required to?
No. The greyhound racing industry has time and time again opposed any reform. The Florida Greyhound Association aggressively fought against injury reporting requirements and a prohibition on the use of anabolic steroids. It brought a lawsuit to invalidate a Seminole County greyhound protection ordinance and even fought to legalize small amounts of cocaine for racing.
If greyhound racing is banned, what will happen to all the dogs?
This measure includes a 26 month phase out period, giving adoption groups time to absorb all available dogs. We are committed to making sure that every dog released by the industry finds a permanent, loving home.
Greyhound industry lobbyists are using scare tactics to try to defeat Amendment 13. They are even making veiled threats about what will happen to greyhounds if racing ends, but all of these dogs will soon need homes, regardless of whether this proposal passes or fails. This is an opportunity to help thousands of dogs.
Does greyhound racing help the economy?
No. Greyhound racing is on the wane and not sustainable. Currently, 40 states outlaw commercial greyhound racing, and in community after community dog racing has been replaced by more modern forms of entertainment. It costs the state of Florida more to regulate this dying industry than it brings in via tax revenue.
Since 1990, the amount wagered on greyhound racing in Florida has declined by 74% and state revenue has declined by 98%. According to state filings, in 2016 Florida dog tracks lost a combined $34.8 million on racing. The state is losing between $1 million and $3.3 million annually on commercial dog racing because regulatory costs exceed revenues.
Since 2001, more than 30 dog tracks have closed around the country and dog racing now represents less than 1 percent of all wagers placed each year in the United States. There are only 18 dog tracks remaining in the U.S. today, 12 of which are located in Florida. In fact, the primary reason greyhound racing still exists in Florida is a 1997 state mandate that forces tracks to continue racing dogs in order to keep the licenses for their more lucrative card rooms.
Why would greyhound trainers treat the dogs they rely upon in an inhumane way?
This is a profit-driven industry, and those involved are always looking for ways to cut costs and maximize profits. Dogs are only valued if they earn money for their owners. If they stop making money, it is economically expedient to discard the poorly performing dogs and breed new ones, perpetuating the never-ending cycle of cruelty.
Don’t people in the industry love their dogs?
People who love dogs treat them like they are part of the family, not like profit machines. This industry is not built on love, it is built on profiting from the misery and exploitation of dogs.
Isn’t this an issue for the legislature?
Lawmakers have repeatedly tried to adopt common sense reforms. Bills to require the reporting of greyhound injuries have passed the Senate twice, but were killed by industry lobbyists. A bill to outlaw the use of anabolic steroids passed the House last year and the Senate this year, but again was killed by industry lobbyists. This industry will not change. It has captured the legislature, and the voters should be allowed to have a voice.
When Seminole County passed a local ordinance to require greyhound injury reporting, the industry filed a lawsuit. When two greyhound trainers were cited for multiple greyhound cocaine positives in Jacksonville, the industry hired lawyers and struck down the state drug testing law. This year, industry lobbyists even circulated a bill to legalize small amounts of cocaine.
The Florida Constitution already includes several references to commercial greyhound racing. For example, Article 10, Section 7 includes a grandfather clause that exempts commercial greyhound racing from a ban on gambling.
Don’t the dogs get recreational time each day?
While it is true that greyhounds are allowed outside of their cages for short periods of time to relieve themselves, these “turn outs” only amount to a few hours per day. This time spent outside of their cages does not justify the confinement greyhounds otherwise endure. This is no way to treat a dog.
Isn’t greyhound racing highly regulated?
The state has minimal regulations regarding dog racing, but these regulations do not prevent thousands of dogs from enduring lives of confinement, nor do they prevent hundreds of dogs from being seriously injured.
Greyhound racing is largely self-regulated, and that is no substitute for a public policy that prevents dogs from being treated cruelly for profit. The controls that do exist came at the insistence of humane organizations. Now the humane community is united in its view that this languishing industry must stop its mistreatment of dogs.