Stew Lilker’s

Columbia County Observer

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For The Dogs: It's Time to Separate Greyhound Racing From Other Gambling

Racing lobbyists want you to believe that efforts to end greyhound racing are part of some grand conspiracy to expand gambling. This is categorically false. Humane groups are working to phase out commercial greyhound racing because it is cruel and inhumane.

At twelve racetracks across Florida thousands of dogs endure lives of confinement. Greyhounds are kept in warehouse-style kennels in small cages for long hours each day.

Greyhounds suffer serious injuries while competing. Florida is one of only two states, along with Alabama, that does not require reporting greyhound injuries to the public, partly because The Florida Greyhound Association, a lobby group that represents greyhound breeders, has fought to keep injury data secret.

To reduce costs, greyhounds are fed cheap meat from diseased animals that are deemed unfit for human consumption. This cheap meat was recently linked to the death of two greyhounds at the Daytona Beach Kennel Club. Female greyhounds are routinely given anabolic steroids to prevent estrus. The greyhound industry seeks to increase the profit margin for each dog and as a result cuts corners on animal welfare.

Although we do not know how many greyhounds are injured, we do know how many racing greyhounds are dying in Florida. Since May of last year, 149 racing greyhounds have died in the state. This is more than double the number acknowledged by the Florida Greyhound Association.

Sadly, those dogs died for an activity that is no longer economically viable. Greyhound racetracks are losing tens of millions annually on live racing, and are only continuing to hold races because the law requires it. Florida dog tracks have become profitable poker rooms that happen to have dogs running around in circles, with virtually no one betting on the races.

The live dog racing mandate makes little sense. That is why so many newspaper editorial boards support decoupling, a proposal to remove the state mandate for dog racing. This policy is supported by the Florida Times Union, Sarasota Herald Tribune, Panama City News Herald, Sun-Sentinel, Tampa Bay Times, Orlando Sentinel, Daytona Beach News-Journal, Lakeland Ledger, Ocala Star-Banner, and Bradenton Herald.

Many humane groups also support decoupling, including the ASPCA, Florida Association of Animal Welfare Organizations, Humane Society of the United States, Jacksonville Humane Society, Florida Animal Control Association, SPCA Tampa Bay, Greyhound Rescue and Adoptions of Tampa Bay, and Greyhound Adoptions of Florida.

Greyhound decoupling has bipartisan support in the Florida legislature and will eventually pass. Many lawmakers support decoupling because it is also a taxpayer issue. According to an independent report commissioned by the legislature in 2013, the state is losing as much as $3.3 million on dog racing because regulatory costs exceed revenues.

Finally, it should surprise no one that the Florida Greyhound Association would attack the humane community and spread wild conspiracy theories about the ongoing effort to protect greyhounds. The state dog racing mandate is effectively a public subsidy for their failing ventures.  They want to keep the gravy train running for years to come.

For the dogs, it’s time to separate greyhound racing from other forms of gambling and pass greyhound decoupling.

Cary Theil is the Executive Director of GREY2K USA, the largest greyhound protection organization in the world. GREY2K USA works to pass stronger greyhound protection laws and to end the cruelty of dog racing, also promoting the rescue and adoption of greyhounds across the globe.

Comments  (to add a comment go here)

On August 21, 2014, Dan Hicks of Stuart, FL wrote:

 For anyone who claims to be an animal lover, (and I suggest that there are many legislators who will claim to be just that, but who will take any “special interest” graft to keep decoupling from occurring), greyhound racing must come to an end,..sooner than later.

There’s no reason for such ridiculous laws to force tracks to keep dog racing only so that they can run their casinos. It’s a sign of the times, world-wide, that the lure of dog-racing is seeing its final days. As an example, South Africa just rejected a proposal to make dog racing legal.

Unless this so-called “sport” is quickly relegated to the same fate as the 8-track tape player, the dogs will be the ones who suffer; witness the recent deaths of dogs in Daytona that were fed spoiled meat.

Society rails against cruelty to humanity and to wild animals, but this horrible “sport” continues on resulting in mishandling, confinement, poor conditioning, injury and death to one of the most magnificent, loving and gentle creatures that ever inhabited this planet.

I have had three greyhounds (having lost one to a blood-disorder a few months ago), adopted another and now have two. My friends have adopted these beauties and love them. We make it a point to criticize the dog-racing industry at every turn and promote adoption with as much passion.

All of the rescues in Florida go to great lengths to ensure that folks looking to adopt a greyhound find the perfect fit for their lives. Adoption fees are very reasonable. These dogs are very affectionate and adapt easily. Ask anyone, their greyhound’s greatest enjoyment is sleeping. And, after such brutal lives, deserve all of the shut-eye that they want.

Dan Hicks
Stuart, FL.

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