No bailout for industry needed, dog racing ban backer tells lawmakers
Photo: Van Abernethy

Greyhounds racing
"Such legislation is not necessary by any means."

One of the main proponents of the state’s recently passed ban on dog racing is telling legislators it’s “not necessary” to pass a bill “implementing” Amendment 13 — and that includes a bailout for the greyhound industry.

But an industry lobbyist says it’s absolutely needed — and required.

Dogs “are personal property, and property has value,” said Paul Hawkes, a former appellate judge and now lobbyist for the Florida Greyhound Association. “These dogs were worth thousands and thousands of dollars, and … we’d rather (get compensated) through legislation.”

To be clear, “we are not opposed to such legislation and, if it is filed, urge you to include funding for greyhound adoption,” said Carey M. Theil, executive director of GREY2K USA Worldwide, a greyhound protection group.

He penned a letter to House Gaming Control Subcommittee Chairman David Santiago, a Deltona Republican, on Friday. The subcommittee meets Wednesday to receive an update by the “Department of Business and Professional Regulation’s Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering on the implementation of Amendment 13,” according to an online agenda.

“However, such legislation is not necessary by any means,” Theil wrote. “The false perception that an Amendment 13 implementation bill must pass would likely serve only to create a legislative vehicle for other changes in law.”

Not so, Hawkes countered: “You have no right to take away someone’s property without compensating them. Compensating the (dog) owners is not a discretionary act … the Legislature is obligated to pay them.”

The Legislature can pass implementing bills to provide enforcement provisions or otherwise fill in details for constitutional amendments. Amendment 13, which does away with betting on live dog racing in Florida, won approval in November by 69 percent.

Shortly after the amendment passed, some breeders and trainers started talking about lawmakers cushioning the blow of the loss of income with a payout.

At least one legislative leader quickly tamped down that idea: “Coming and asking for a compensation package is probably a tough row to hoe for them,” Senate President Bill Galvano, a Bradenton Republican, has said.

And Theil reiterated racing ban supporters’ position that while they don’t oppose a pay package, “there is no legitimate legal claim for compensation” under state or federal law.

Moreover, Theil questioned the “rush of homeless dogs” that greyhound interests feared: “It is now clear that greyhound breeding was in sharp decline even before the vote. As a result, racing kennels are retaining greyhounds for longer periods of time and adoption groups are receiving fewer dogs.

“We do anticipate that a large number of dogs will become available by late 2020, and helping these dogs find homes will require logistical and financial support,” he added. “Sadly, greyhound adoption has been politicized in recent years and the industry is now only giving dogs to groups that publicly defend it.”

Amendment 13, placed on the ballot by the 2017-18 Constitution Revision Commission, outlaws placing bets on greyhound and other dog races, such as at the state’s pari-mutuels.

The amendment allows greyhound racing to continue through the end of 2020. The proposal, however, allows other gambling at tracks, such as card games, to continue even after dog racing ends.

“Three greyhound racetracks (Pensacola Greyhound Track, Melbourne Greyhound Track, and Big Easy) have already ended greyhound racing,” Theil’s letter says. “A fourth facility, Naples-Ft. Myers Greyhound Track, has been given state approval to cut its schedule in half ….

“Two other tracks (Ebro Greyhound Park and Sarasota Kennel Club) have announced they will likely end dog racing in 2019, and we expect Naples to also end racing in 2019 or early 2020. The final five facilities will likely hold races until late 2020.”

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].


  • Don Goldstein

    February 18, 2019 at 4:33 pm

    It is a shame that Mr. Hawkes thinks dogs “are personal property” and since Amendment 13 did not take away anyone’s dogs, his statement, “You have no right to take away someone’s property without compensating them. Compensating the (dog) owners is not a discretionary act … the Legislature is obligated to pay them” makes no sense. The owners still have the dogs and can do any legal activity with them. Of course I’m neither a lawyer nor a highly paid lobbyist.

    • Joe T

      February 18, 2019 at 7:21 pm

      No your not a lawyer nor a highly paid lobbyist. But your a shill for Grey2k, and you dont know what your talking about, If you think your dogs are not personal property you need some serious help, Try google once instead of listening to your leaders…..You may view your dog or cat as a member of the family, but in the eyes of the law, your pet is personal property, plain and simple, just like paintings and patio furniture. (Note: If you or your spouse breed and sell animals, your pets could also be considered business assets. Again you make comments that dont make sense like you did in a TV interview,

      • Don Goldstein

        February 18, 2019 at 8:25 pm

        Joe, thanks for helping to make my point. The fact that you and your cohorts think of these special dogs as property is a large part of the problem. My 4 greyhounds are family members, not patio furniture!

        • Robert

          February 18, 2019 at 8:48 pm

          And you own them. They are your property.

  • Craig Laginess

    February 18, 2019 at 5:46 pm

    Why is Theil’s word being treated as gospel when he is nothing but a lying S.O.B and a chicken? The greyhound racing industry got nothing but screwed since the inception of 13, thanks to special interest groups.

  • Robert

    February 18, 2019 at 6:45 pm

    Theil is not at all qualified to speak with any authority about greyhound racing.

  • Just the Facts

    February 18, 2019 at 7:23 pm

    Theil and his scam group sure havent given any money for the mess they created over lies and deceit, All they care about is lining their own pockets

  • Brian O’Gorman

    February 18, 2019 at 7:27 pm

    This article is the reason that I am not going to knowingly spend one cent as a tourist in the state of Florida, try not to purchase any agricultural products – especially citrus, and do my best to avoid all FL based sports – hoping the Dolphins, Buccaneers, Heat, Hurricanes, etc. loose, not watch horse racing events from FL tracks,nor read Marjorie Kinnan Rawlings…Get the picture? I want a lot of people to follow my lead. You can have Gollum!

  • Stacey

    February 18, 2019 at 8:21 pm

    What the hell did they expect to happen after they launched a smear campaign to slander many hardworking people in the greyhound community??? Like they’re really going to want to give, entrust, their dogs to those people who so vocally talked trash about them for so long??? They have the right to withhold their dogs from you lying crooks.

  • Andy

    February 18, 2019 at 8:39 pm

    Thiel is busy scamming people for donations to rehome dogs he will never see, same as his partners in crime HSUS, sure is going to be just desserts watching him squirm on the stand in federal court, along with his husband dorkchak and Scam Bondi

  • al smith

    February 18, 2019 at 11:19 pm

    Grey 2K is a scam and they are salivating about getting their vile hands on other people property. Dogs are not only property in this case they are also a business. The government put them out of business.. now they can pay for it.. it is called “just compensation”.. it they take your house under eminent domain they MUST pay for it.. this in not any different..teh governemtn closed the business.. now they have to pay the woners.. pretty simple and its the law

  • Fred Barton

    February 19, 2019 at 2:16 pm

    I would support legislation that helps ease the transition of those employed in the industry into other careers such as happened in Iowa, but as has been stated earlier, no one is taking anyone’s dogs away from them, least of all the state. The industry itself boasts of over 100 adoption groups ready to find homes for abandoned greyhounds just as has always happened before Amendment 13 passed. In that regard, nothing has changed. When the industry is done making money of a dog, that dog is dumped on these adoption groups. It’s the same now as it was before 13.

    • Andy

      February 19, 2019 at 4:30 pm

      And grey2scam, along with their partners in crime, are involved in fraud by raising money to rehome dogs they will never see. Thus, grey2scam is involved in fraud, the same now as it was before 13, right proven liar fred?

      I would love to see you on the stand in fed court too, you haven’t won yet, could be a federal judge will take a dim view of lying Bondi, pussy thiel and her husband dorkchak. Don’t count your chickens just yet.

      • Fred Barton

        February 19, 2019 at 4:46 pm

        Well Andy, looks like your comments haven’t changed despite the election. You ought to just boilerplate those puppies man. Save you a lot of typing time. Trying to overturn a legally passed Constitutional Amendment with a lawsuit is a bit of a hail Mary don’t you think? Especially when that Amendment was OK’d by the Florida Supreme Court. Anyway, by the time it gets through the courts the deadline will have passed and all the tracks will be closed anyway. People are already eyeing the land for new development. I think your ship has sailed dude.

        • Craig Laginess

          February 19, 2019 at 5:09 pm

          Once again Fred you are wrong. A lawsuit will prevent the amendment from being effective until it is settled in court. Also the scarcity of the dogs is because the large influx of dogs won’t happen until after the tracks are forced to close. Shouldn’t you be worried about your own job after all the Nassar scandal is going to cost your employer a nice chunk of money and programs will have to be cut.

          • Andy

            February 19, 2019 at 5:25 pm

            He will just go to work full time scamming people with the rest of the scum, the ship hasn’t sailed quite yet proven liar atheist fred. When one considers the dishonest way it was put on the ballot, and the lying commercials with stolen footage, a federal judge could very easily stop it. All the lies told in the CRC meetings by scam bondi and lee and all the liars who said ” i saw” without offering up a single piece of evidence plus the fact the CRC didn’t even follow their own by laws could easily stop it. I’ve seen plenty of hail marys work before, such as when Aaron Rodgers beat your pathetic Lions, not a fat pasty piece of scum like you knows anything about football. But soon Australian racing is going to be simulcasted here in the states, and we will still have a few tracks left.

            The fat lady, who most likely is your wife, if you have one, hasn’t sang just yet.

          • Fred Barton

            February 20, 2019 at 7:40 am

            You’re talking about an injunction, freezing the Amendment. There’s no precedent for that. Also, on a practical level, to do that you have to get in front of a judge and make an argument. Do you even have a court date? It’s almost March, Andy. Tracks are closing.

  • Craig Laginess

    February 19, 2019 at 6:29 pm

    Rumor has it that Fred has been spotted at various Meijer stores in the Lansing area kicking 3 year-olds off of the penny mechanical horse so he can preach the Grey2k lies from his high horse. I am not surprised by this dick move.

    • Fred Barton

      February 20, 2019 at 7:46 am

      The cogency of your arguments is exceed only by the precision of their logical construction.

  • Jim C.

    February 19, 2019 at 8:09 pm

    What is the nextlegal business the government is going to eliminate because they don’t like it?

    • Andy

      February 19, 2019 at 8:20 pm

      It isn’t that they don’t like it, but rather they saw the golden rainbow of casino lobby money in their starry eyes, and greyhound racing was in the way, so they decided to become bedmates of criminals to facilitate the ouster of the livelihoods of thousands of hard working people. It isn’t going to surprise me one bit if the federals reverse this amendment that is totally based on lies and deceit. Fat fred and his ilk are nothing more than con artists, the fact that they are soliciting donations to rehome dogs they will never see is ample evidence of this, the fraud continues, thiel and her husband will go weak in the knees when the subpoena arrives.

  • Andy

    February 20, 2019 at 7:51 am

    Tracks are closing yes, but the big 5 will run until the end of next year, and if we can save those it will be a victory. I repeat, not over until tha fat lady, and you know all about those, sings.

    Fred knows big words, but that doesn’t change the fact that you are a liar and scammer. You and your scam group will never succeed in closing Southland, the people there, nor in Texas, W Va or Alabama, are not transplanted northern, baby killing liberals.

    And you haven’t won in Florida yet.

    • Fred Barton

      February 20, 2019 at 8:32 am

      ..if we can save those…” “if.” If wished were horses beggars would ride.

      • Craig Laginess

        February 20, 2019 at 8:38 am

        Fred you won the battle, but the war isn’t over. Quit kicking 3 year-olds off of the penny horse at Meijer.

        • Fred Barton

          February 20, 2019 at 9:00 am

          You folks remind me of Hiroo Onoda.

  • Andy

    February 20, 2019 at 8:45 am

    And quit supporting the baby killer party and jump on the Trump train, but then an atheist has no.problem killing babies, but you act like you are holier than than the rest of us because you speak out against invisible abuse of working dogs but support the murder of innocent children, you are truly scum, a special place in hell awaits you.

  • Barry Stauch

    February 20, 2019 at 9:38 am

    Sadly some Americans, so called are more concerned about ill treated dogs than people killing children. I have been around this industry most of my 72 years and true some dogs get mistreated just like some people mistreat their children. Not all get mistreated. I know personally some who care for the dogs as family. Definitely no bail out is needed for the tracks but yes for the trainers who lose their jobs . The owners will only relocate to another state and once again taxpayers money will be blown away by the politicians. It appears there is no COMMON sense anymore in my home state.

Comments are closed.


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