Greyhound racing ban clears first CRC committee

Greyhound at Capitol

A proposed constitutional amendment to end greyhound racing in the state unanimously cleared its first committee Thursday.

That was right after its sponsor, Commissioner Tom Lee, delivered a fiery speech on the power of—and oncoming peril to—his proposal. Mira, a 7-year-old greyhound and former racing dog, lay a few feet away.

“You haven’t heard from the industry today,” he told the Constitution Revision Commission‘s General Provisions Committee. “And that too should be a lesson. They’re not here because they knew they could not win today. But they’re not gone. They operate in the shadows.

“And you will see exactly why this hasn’t gotten done in the Legislature,” added Lee, a Republican state senator from Thonotosassa and former Senate President.

“They will find a moment when they see a crack in the armor of what we are trying to do, and then they will emerge. And they will emerge in full force.”

Lee’s plan to put a stop to dog racing also was amended by the committee to take effect only one year after passage, rather than the three-year phase out Lee envisioned.

Jack Cory, a spokesman and lobbyist for the Florida Greyhound Association, which represents breeders and trainers, penned an op-ed against the proposal for Florida Politics.

On Thursday, he added Lee’s plan will “result in the largest expansion of gambling in Florida’s history … it would convert all of Florida’s dog tracks into mini-casinos, which was amended on to this very bad proposal.”

Those in support “have listened to very radical out of state animal rights groups and their misinformed supporters,” Cory said in a statement.

The amendment would hurt the “over 3,000 Florida families” in the dog breeding and training business, and “supporters that bet over $80 million on live greyhound racing last year.”

But greyhound advocates told stories of dogs forced to lie in cages for 20-22 hours a day and fed meat treated with charcoal because it was otherwise “unfit for human consumption.”

Kelly Faircloth, with Greyhound Rescue & Adoptions of Tampa Bay, told commissioners she has seen some animals covered in hundreds of fleas, so many that they look like “a shadow moving on the side of a dog.”

Bryan Wilson, who worked on a campaign to pass Seminole County’s greyhound injury reporting ordinance, began weeping as he testified.

“This has to go to the people,” he said. “… This is a game played too often, but it’s a game that affects lives.” He paused, choking up. “It is emotional. Those faces need it,” Wilson added, pointing to a picture of a dog.

And Kate MacFall, Florida state director of The Humane Society of the United States, said commissioners needed to vote against “business as usual for the tracks,” saying Florida should get “out of the business of animal cruelty.”

The amendment adopted Thursday, filed by proposal co-sponsor Brecht Heuchan, also ensures that dog tracks offering other gambling, such as cards, won’t lose their ability to keep offering those games if dog racing is banned.

Lee’s measure next will be considered by the commission’s Executive Committee. Any proposal to change the state constitution must be approved by 60 percent of voters on the 2018 statewide ballot.

Jim Rosica

Jim Rosica is the Tallahassee-based Senior Editor for Florida Politics. He previously was the Tampa Tribune’s statehouse reporter. Before that, he covered three legislative sessions in Florida for The Associated Press. Jim graduated from law school in 2009 after spending nearly a decade covering courts for the Tallahassee Democrat, including reporting on the 2000 presidential recount. He can be reached at [email protected]


11 comments

  • Fred Barton

    November 30, 2017 at 1:16 pm

    ‘“You haven’t heard from the industry today,” he told the Constitution Revision Commission‘s General Provisions Committee. “And that too should be a lesson. They’re not here because they knew they could not win today. But they’re not gone. They operate in the shadows. “And you will see exactly why this hasn’t gotten done in the Legislature,” added Lee, a Republican state senator from Thonotosassa and former Senate President.’

    Right on Senator Lee. That last thing those who profit from the exploitation of greyhounds is more light shed on their barbaric enterprise.

    • Jason

      November 30, 2017 at 3:12 pm

      “Those who profit from the exploitation of greyhounds”? I assume you’re talking about yourself and Grey2k USA.

      • Fred Barton

        December 1, 2017 at 4:34 pm

        I’ve explained this many times. I don’t know you folks have such a hard time figuring it out. What you’re saying is that we’re trying to profit from greyhound racing by shutting it down. Like the thing that makes us money? We want to end it. Like greyhound racing itself, that’s not a long term plan for success.

  • John Forsyth

    November 30, 2017 at 5:41 pm

    I would love to see a viewpoint on here from a regular day to day person….not some anti or pro racing propaganda. No Grey2K, HSUS, FGA, NGA….how about just a regular person….you know the people that will actually vote on this?

  • Bob

    November 30, 2017 at 5:55 pm

    Fred Barton why don’t you share with us how much of the money your group takes in is actually spent on the feeding, rehoming and medical needs of these greyhounds you claim to love? I have two retired racing greyhounds at home that were very well taken care of when they raced. Why don’t you tell us why nearly half the money your group takes in goes to salaries and “overhead”? The only tragic thing I see here is a group of interlopers trying to take jobs and tax dollars away from Floridians.

    • Fred Barton

      December 1, 2017 at 4:37 pm

      Well, for starters we’re an advocacy group, and although we support several adoption groups( I volunteer with two of them myself), we don’t do adoptions ourselves. BTW, your comment about costing the state tax dollars if racing ends? It already costs them $3.3 million more to oversee you than you brought in to the state coffers. So yeah, thast’s not going to be a problem.

  • Michael

    November 30, 2017 at 6:13 pm

    It’s because industry people work for a living-unlike you and the bought Mr Lee – you both fondle little boys and hopefully that will be exposed after the racing stupidity ends

  • Jeremy

    November 30, 2017 at 8:48 pm

    The people in the greyhound industry work for a living unlike Fred Barton and his little greyhound “advocacy” group that fleeces the public for donations then pay out nearly half of those donations in salaries to themselves. They don’t give a whit for the welfare of greyhounds.

  • Charlie

    December 1, 2017 at 7:21 pm

    NY resident here, so non voter, but would vote against this if I could. Am a greyhound adopter, and have seen many digs come up from FL who were clearly well adjusted, well cared for hounds. If racing is to be banned because of a few bad apples then ban pet ownership by the same logic, since there are many abusive and neglectful pet owners. How about education, prevention, some recognition that this isn’t all black and white? Remember too, you adopters, if greyhound racing doses, this strain of dogs we all love will be gone.

    • Michelle

      December 3, 2017 at 12:22 am

      Ma resident here, I agree with Charlie. Stop giving money to Grey2k and Fred Barton. The Dorchecks made a mess here and did nothing to help the hounds or the adoption groups here just took the pushovers money and ran 😖😤
      Yes there are bad apples but please remember how could a greyhound run a race if it had been in a crate over 20 hours a day, common sense people! After they are done their racing careers how could they settle into home life so well if they were abused…?

      • Michelle

        December 3, 2017 at 12:24 am

        I also am a Greyhound adopter ang volunteer

Comments are closed.


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