A ‘Red Bull rule’? State strikes back on drugs in race dogs


Calling it an “immediate danger” that needs “emergency action,” gambling regulators this week filed a temporary rule to allow them to keep testing racing greyhounds for drugs.

The moves comes after an administrative law judge struck down the testing program, saying it was “invalid.”


The Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering, which regulates gambling in Florida, also asked Judge Lawrence P. Stevenson to reconsider his ruling. In Florida, live dog racing is still conducted at 12 tracks.

It barred the state from relying on a 2010 testing manual because it wasn’t properly adopted, though as one of the division’s  lawyers said, “There aren’t that many ways to do urine collection.”

The emergency rule, for example, includes using “evidence tape” to seal samples and storing them in “lockable freezers” until they’re sent off for testing.

Stevenson’s ruling already has had ripple effects.

Another administrative law judge this week recommended a fine and suspension for a West Palm Beach greyhound trainer after his dogs tested positive for drugs in late 2016 and early 2017.

That included one greyhound whose “caffeine level … was approximately 42 times the permissible limit.”

But that same judge, Cathy M. Sellers, said trainer Areci Robledo could ask to “re-open” the case based on Stevenson’s previous decision.

In that case, Robledo testified dogs sometimes consume food and beverages containing caffeine, such as chocolate and Red Bull, because they’re “often left unattended in areas where they are accessible to the racing greyhounds.”

Attorney Jeff Kottkamp, who represents the Florida Greyhound Association, has said it has “a zero tolerance policy for anyone that would give a racing greyhound any illegal substance.” The organization advocates for the state’s race-dog owners and breeders.

A cocaine-in-dogs controversy came to light in Jacksonville this summer. That partly spurred the filing of a constitutional amendment for the 2018 ballot to ban greyhound racing in the state.

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].


  • Fred Barton

    December 29, 2017 at 3:41 pm

    It is unfortunate that greyhounds have to continue to suffer because of the ineptitude of the Division of Pari-mutuel Wagering, but Mr. Kottkamp’s statement that the industry has a zero tolerance policy for harmful drugs is laughable on its face. The industry not only tolerates, but encourages the use of drugs harmful to greyhounds’ health such as steroids given to females.

    I am a Board member of GREY2K USA Worldwide, an organization that fights to save these marvelous creatures all over the globe. (you can learn more about us here: http://www.grey2kusa.org.) I have fostered and adopted rescued racing greyhounds since 1995. I cannot imagine abandoning any of them when they become injured, old or sick and yet this is routinely what happens to them at operating tracks and will continue to happen as long as racing is allowed to exist.
    Fred Barton
    Board Member
    GREY2K USA Worldwide

  • Ed Lover

    December 29, 2017 at 9:35 pm

    Fred, your org is laughable. Love the dogs, whether they race or not. Dont try to get a “win” against an easy target (dying industry). Why not go after puppy mills, or even horse racing! A horse can be whipped 10 times during a 2 min race. But thats ok, right, no comments needed there, because horse racing makes a bit more $$ and you ll never win that fight. Hipocrites. (sic)

    • Fred Barton

      December 30, 2017 at 3:39 pm

      Don’t you guys ever get tired of using the same old dodges to try and change the subject? You’re only in it for the money…there’s evil in other places go end that before coming for us…yada yada yada. I realize it’s hard to face the the fact that greyhound racing is exploitative and inherently cruel because of what it implies about you as a human being, but come on! Couldn’t you at least come up with some new ways to try and divert the conversation from the institutionalized barbarity that is greyhound racing? I’ve been reading these for 20 years.

  • Michael

    December 30, 2017 at 12:24 pm

    That trainer should be banned from having anything to do with animals. Who in there right mind would allow anyone to leave chocolate around for the dog to eat. Chocolate is dangerous to the dogs health. He is full of crap that the chocolate and red bulls are left around so the dogs have access. The dogs are kept in cages until they race and then put back in the cage. The dogs used for racing are not like a dog in a home where they roam free to get in food off the table , floor, couch, counter or other means. They are confined constantly. Someone has to be giving the dogs by hand. The trainer has a responsibility to protect the dog at all time like a true lover of animals. This trainer is a lowlife and should removed permenantely.

  • Bdenslow

    December 31, 2017 at 8:58 pm


  • Eldon Mickelson

    January 1, 2018 at 6:22 pm

    Greyhounds are born to race, without racing
    their population would be 1/1000 of what it is now.
    Did you ever bet on the no pay slots? In dog racing
    the smarter you are the more you win. The so called
    do gooders would like to get rid of dog racing and herd
    you into a losing casino.

    • Nanci Guest

      January 2, 2018 at 10:49 am

      Actually Eldon 1/1000 would be just fine as not being born is better than a life of suffering. “The smarter you are..?” You mean the more heartless, cruel and money hungry you are? God forbid you save an innocent animal from suffering and play in a casino. Your priorities lack compassion and reveal a very troubling attitude. I hope you can evolve and one day see beyond self-service. Maybe you too can be a “do-gooder” and open up your heart.

Comments are closed.


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