The Phoenix Flyer

Proposed greyhound racing ban will go before voters, Florida Supreme Court rules

By: - September 7, 2018 6:42 pm

A greyhound dog

Florida voters will get a chance to weigh in on whether dog tracks should be banned in Florida, the Florida Supreme Court ruled Friday.

The amendment to ban greyhound racing – Amendment 13 – was the subject of a court challenge, but Friday’s ruling ends that legal wrangling and the proposed ban is set for the Nov. 6 ballot.

Florida has more dog tracks  (11) than any state in the U.S. Greyhound racing is already illegal in 40 states. Amendment 13 would phase out dog tracks by 2020.

Opponents have been fighting to end the industry on the grounds that it is cruel to the dogs. The dogs are stacked in cages when they are not racing, and state inspections have found numerous problems, including that some dogs tested positive for cocaine. Many dogs are injured during the races, and a greyhound racing dog dies in Florida every three days, according to a review of state reports by Grey2K, a group dedicated to ending the dog tracks.

“This is a great day for greyhounds,” said Kate MacFall, Florida state director for The Humane Society of the United States. “This is an opportunity for Floridians to vote yes on Amendment 13 and phase out this cruelty and inhumane treatment of dogs.”

Greyhound racing still exists in Florida because of a long-ago provision put into state law that mandates that any gambling establishment which wants to offer card games, slot machines or other games must also offer greyhound races. The races have dwindled in popularity over the years, and are money-losers compared with the other gambling pursuits. Often the dogs race before empty grandstands while gamblers play cards or slots.

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Julie Hauserman
Julie Hauserman

Julie Hauserman has been writing about Florida for more than 30 years. She is a former Capitol bureau reporter for the St. Petersburg (Tampa Bay) Times, and reported for The Stuart News and the Tallahassee Democrat. She was a national commentator for National Public Radio’s Weekend Edition Sunday and The Splendid Table . She has won many awards, including two nominations for the Pulitzer Prize. Her work is featured in several Florida anthologies, including The Wild Heart of Florida , The Book of the Everglades , and Between Two Rivers . Her new book is Drawn to The Deep, a University Press of Florida biography of Florida cave diver and National Geographic explorer Wes Skiles.