Wednesday, November 07, 2018

Florida Ends Commercial Greyhound Racing

There was an election last night, and Florida voters decided, by a margin of more than 69 percent, to amend their constitution to ban commercial greyhound racing.

I am opposed to states amending their constitutions as a law-making mechanism, but I am not opposed to a ban on commercial greyhound racing.

First, a few basics:

  • Greyhounds are over 4,000 years old but these mechanical rabbit races are only about 100 years oldMechanical rabbits are not necessary for the greyhound's existence.

  • Commercial greyhound racing has already been banned over most of the world because the sport inevitably leads to thousands of abandoned dogs, dogs shot in the head and buried in farm fields after they lose their first few races, and dogs drugged to slow them down or speed them up. In the US, forty states have already banned commercial greyhound racing as a consequence.

  • This is not the "slippery slope" of the “AR people”. I've been listening to this nonsense for 30 years, and I live in Virginia where PETA is actually headquartered. Here in Virginia, where we banned greyhound racing in 1995, the state dog is the Fox Hound, we shoot over 200,000 deer a year, we shoot over 3,000 bear a year, and local bounties on coyotes are still offered. Geese and ducks are hunted with abandon, along with raccoon and rabbit, falconers fly on squirrel and rabbit, and leghold traps are both legal and used. Chicken and steak places are on every corner, and no one I know has seen a PETA protest in their life. You know who fans “the fear of AR” flames? The Kennel Club pretenders; the frustrated hair dressers cranking out diseased, deformed, and dysfunctional dogs for green cash and blue ribbons. The AKC “sport” is separating people from cash, walking dogs around a ring on a string leash, and looking the other way when deformed dogs are in distress and diseased dogs collapse at age 5. Listening to AKC pretenders talk about hunting and working dogs is a bit like getting a cooking lesson from Jeffrey Dahmer; you might want to check on what's being served!

  • America is not going soft. We still sell guns at Walmart and cases of ammunition without identification at Dick's Sporting Goods. We’re a meat-eating and hunting people who cheer at MMA fights and who rip children from their parents as we throw them into ICE cages. We invade countries for no reason, refuse to provide clean water to our citizens, and jail millions on petty charges. I’m pretty sure we’re not “going soft” as a nation because we’ve decided drugging greyhounds and shooting them in the head in South Florida is a practice that we’d just as soon stop. We’ll survive this, I promise. Forty other states already have.

  • Running dogs are chasing rabbits and hares all over the world. That’s not going to change and neither is any other normal dog activity. Dogs are still going to herd sheep, move cattle, rat barns, pull carts and sleds, guard stock, and chase fox and raccoon. Flyball is not going to be banned, and neither are for-fun terrier races or plastic bag lure coursing events.  To refresh; greyhound racing had already been banned in 40 other states and no one even noticed. 

  • Most greyhound track owners want to get rid of the dogs, because slot machines (put in to subsidize failing greyhounds tracks) are more profitable and less hassleGreyhound racing has been an economically dying sport for decades.

  • The Florida law is clear that the intent of the law is to ban greyhound racing associated with commercial betting. The ballot summary was: "Phases out commercial dog racing in connection with wagering by 2020. Other gaming activities are not affected." Amendment 13 added a new section to Article X and a new section to Article XII of the Florida Constitution. The following text was added:

    New Section of Article X
    Prohibition on racing of and wagering on greyhounds or other dogs.—The humane treatment of animals is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida. After December 31, 2020, a person authorized to conduct gaming or pari-mutuel operations may not race greyhounds or any member of the Canis Familiaris subspecies in connection with any wager for money or any other thing of value in this state, and persons in this state may not wager money or any other thing of value on the outcome of a live dog race occurring in this state. The failure to conduct greyhound racing or wagering on greyhound racing after December 31, 2018, does not constitute grounds to revoke or deny renewal of other related gaming licenses held by a person who is a licensed greyhound permitholder on January 1, 2018, and does not affect the eligibility of such permitholder, or such permitholder’s facility, to conduct other pari-mutuel activities authorized by general law. By general law, the legislature shall specify civil or criminal penalties for violations of this section and for activities that aid or abet violations of this section.

    New Section of Article XII
    Prohibition on racing or wagering on greyhounds or other dogs.—The amendment to Article X, which prohibits the racing of or wagering on greyhound and other dogs, and the creation of this section, shall take effect upon the approval of the electors.
    The amendment is written to allow greyhound tracks to continue as slot machine and off track betting establishments, but without dogs, and it clearly allows all dog activities provided there no wagering being done. In short, fun trials and timed trials in which wagers are not being made are perfectly legal.

Bottom line:  Amending the state constitution is a ridiculous way to legislate, but the world will still spin on its axis, and working dogs will be fine without fat drunk men clutching dog track betting slips. Will fewer greyhounds be bred to be disposed of before they get to the track, drugged at the track, killed after injury at the track, and dumped in rescue, or shot in the head and dumped in shallow graves after just four or five runs at the track?  Probably.  But why is that a bad thing?

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