In keeping with the tone set by the Weatherford-Gaetz style of legislative leadership, Senate President Andy Gardiner passed a bill on the first day of Session. SB 2, the Vicky Q. Gaetz Racing Greyhound Protection Act sponsored by Democratic Sen. Eleanor Sobel of Hollywood, was approved by the full Senate Tuesday.
“Racing greyhounds are prone to injuries, which can to often lead to horrible pain and premature death,” Sobel said in a statement. “Injury reporting is a simple step that will lead to fewer deaths and a better quality of life for these precious animals.”
The fast-tracked bill was immediately certified and now awaits passage of its House companion, Democratic Rep. Jared Moskowitz‘s HB 129, which has not enjoyed the same expeditious path. It still sits in the House Business & Professions Subcommittee, its first of three committee stops.
“Of the seven states that have live greyhound racing, only Florida and Alabama do not require the reporting of racing greyhound injuries,” Gardiner said Tuesday. “Amid the difference of opinions on a wide variety of issues related to gaming in our state, injury reporting seems to be an area of consensus, so I am hopeful this is the year we will see this good bill become law.”
Sobel renamed the bill in honor of then-Senate President Don Gaetz‘s wife in hopes of getting it through the legislature during the 2014 Session. While that didn’t quite come to pass, the name stuck, and is reflected in the House version as well.
Said Sobel: “Vicky Gaetz has been a passionate voice for animals and is particularly committed to protecting those that have been injured, abused, or neglected. I am grateful for her ongoing support and pleased to see this legislation bear her name.”
David Bishop, who represents the Florida Greyhound Association, sounded somewhat less upbeat following the bill’s passage in the upper chamber. His group claims the bill doesn’t go far enough:
“While Senate Bill 2 is a good first step, it doesn’t go far enough in protecting racing greyhounds,” Bishop said. “Reporting at-track dog injuries collects statistical data but doesn’t do anything to prevent injuries or deaths. Four racing greyhounds died at Florida tracks in January 2015. According to state data, three of those deaths were because of issues at the track.”
Bishop favors a more thorough approach, which he says will give greyhound defenders greater latitude to act when the law is broken.
”We call on the Senate to move with similar urgency in passage of SB 262, which requires track owners to make inexpensive but significant enhancements to their facilities that will protect the safety of racing greyhounds,” he said.