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Greyhound owners plan legal challenge of dog racing ban

The group that represents the state’s racing-greyhound breeders and owners will challenge a proposed constitutional amendment to outlaw dog racing, its spokesman and lobbyist told Florida Politics Tuesday.

Jack Cory, who represents the Florida Greyhound Association (FGA), said former Lt. Gov. Jeff Kottkamp and former appellate judge Paul Hawkes, who also now represent the group, are working on a brief to the Florida Supreme CourtA request for comment sent to Kottkamp on the details of that challenge is pending.

On Monday, the Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) approved the proposal (P6012) on a 27-10 vote; it needed at least 22 votes. Barring court action, it will go directly on November’s statewide ballot, where it needs at least 60 percent approval to be added to the constitution.

“We’re obviously very disappointed,” Cory said. “We don’t feel the proposal meets the requirements for ballot placement. We appreciate those who voted against it, but as we’ve seen, you only need a few lies to poison the well.”

In debate on the amendment, Attorney General Pam Bondi inveighed against dog racing; the Tampa Republican is known for regularly bringing shelter dogs to state Cabinet meetings to get them adopted.

“The entire country is watching us,” she said Monday, reciting a litany of alleged abuses of racing dogs. She told fellow commissioners that dog racing “is cruel and inhumane (and) horrible … This is not who we are as a state.”

Cory responded that Bondi, term-limited this year, was “wrong, and a modicum of research would have shown that.”

But “she read from the script given to her by an out of state so-called animal rights group,” he added, referring to GREY2K USA Worldwide, which opposes greyhound racing. 

Moreover, as the state’s chief legal officer, “she has full access to any kennel in the state,” Cory said. “She could see any abuse firsthand, but she won’t, because there is none … Respectfully, she did not know what she was talking about.”

Carey M. TheilGREY2K’s executive director, called the association’s members “sore losers” and said there was no basis for a challenge.

“This is a desperate attempt to prevent voters from having a say because they know they will lose at the ballot box,” he said.

Between Bondi and greyhound interests, “voters can look and decide who they want to believe,” Theil added.

He said a public relations campaign, including “grassroots volunteers” and paid advertising, is already being planned for the amendment’s passage in November.

The main vehicle for that campaign will be the Committee to Protect Dogs, a Florida political committee. State records show the panel has not yet raised any funds.

“We’re going to ask voters one simple question: ‘Would you treat your dog this way?’ ” Theil said.

Cory said the stakes are high to knock down the amendment: If it passes, “you’re putting people out of work, some who have been in the business for over 50 years. That’s not right.”

Written By

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 jim@floridapolitics.com.

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