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Dog Days

Florida voters will decide the future of state greyhound racing this November

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Amendment 13, the ban on dog races, is on the Florida ballot for 2018.

According to the Florida Greyhound Association, Florida has 13 racing facilities, more than any other state.

Amendment supporters say it's an opportunity to end a business that is inhumane. Statistical evidence, they argue, supports their claims against the industry. Opponents, however, say the attacks on the dog racing industry are misguided and carried by selective statistics.

Organizations such as Grey2k USA are in full support of Amendment 13, because of the inhumane way they claim the dogs are treated. According to its website, “greyhounds are confined for 20-23 hours a day.”

Animal rescue group officials have enumerated several negative issues within the dog racing industry. State records reveal that in the last five years alone, 483 greyhounds died in the kennels or on the track.

The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals reported that there have been at least 758 greyhound deaths in the period from January 2008 to November 2014, due to the animals' involvement with the dog racing industry. The dogs either collapse or are euthanized after they suffer a serious injury.

In that time span, 16 “greyhounds tested positive for cocaine.” There were an additional 27 cases of neglect and cruelty reported, according to the ASPCA.

Sonia Stratemann, vice chair of the Protect Dogs – Yes on 13 campaign, said the amendment would stop breeders from breeding the sleek canines for racing. As a result, the greyhounds would not be forced to live a life of inevitable neglect and injury.

“It’s planned abandonment. They breed them knowing they’re going to get rid of them and dump them onto rescues as soon as they’re no longer making a profit for them,” Stratemann said.

Stratemann said her experiences within racing dog kennels revealed how greyhounds were being neglected and used, but Patti Strand, founder of the National Animal Interest Alliance, disagrees with the stand taken by Grey2k USA and other pro-Amendment 13 organizations.

The NAIA is an organization whose mission is to “promote the welfare of animals, to strengthen the human-animal bond, and safeguard the rights of responsible animal owners, enthusiasts and professionals through research, public information and sound public policy.”

Strand said the things being said about the dog racing industry are false, and that anti-dog racing organizations “are masters of the big lie.” She said those groups tell half-truths and use isolated incidents, creating their data from there.

“I believe they are in the conflict fundraising business,” Strand said.

According to Strand, the entire push to ban dog racing is a front. She believes someone is benefiting. She said the topic of animal treatment catches the attention of many citizens, and organizations are using those eyes and ears to spread their personal agenda.

“People need to look behind the numbers and see what they are based on,” Strand said.

If the amendment is passed, Stratemann said, there are hundreds of rescue organizations ready to house the abandoned greyhounds. Strand said that if it is passed, “It sets a precedent for being able to claim an entire practice is inhumane,” so the ripple effects could reach other animal sporting events. She considered the desire to ban dog racing a form of prejudice and said it was “completely un-American.”

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