Amendment 13 could phase out dog racing in Florida

WASHINGTON COUNTY, Fla. (WJHG/WECP) - Dog racing could soon be a thing of the past in Florida because of Amendment 13.

It would ban wagering on dog racing throughout the state by the end of 2020.

However, it has been met with some opposition, including locally at Ebro Greyhound Park in Washington County, where they say their dogs are treated well and humanely.

Teresa Duncan, the money room manager at Ebro said,"We have an open door policy, anyone that wants to come can get with the racing judge, get a pass to be able to come in. They can come in and look and see how these dogs are taken care of."

Avery Hodges, an employee at Ebro Greyhound Park added, "I'm a dog person, I love dogs. If I thought something bad was going on here, I wouldn't be here."

However, members of the Committee to Protect Dogs say their main goal is to better protect the animals.

Kate MacFall, the Co-Chair of the Committee to Protect Dogs said, "They're in harm's way. It's not personal about any particular trainer or situation, it's just in general."

MacFall says places like Ebro, which also operates a poker room, should be able to maintain their business if the amendment passes.

"It phases out commercial greyhound racing, but doesn't affect other kinds of gambling, so they can continue to do that, just minus the dogs," she added.

However, some patrons of Ebro don't want to see the track go.

Ken Turner, a local attending Ebro said, "This is something that's been going on for many, many years and it's a great thing to watch these animals run and perform."

The committee thinks dog racing just doesn't hold up in today's society.

MacFall added, "Dogs are members of our families, it's just out of step with society's values."

On their website, Protect Dogs - Yes on 13 wrote: "Greyhounds are at a disadvantage even before they are born. Thousands are bred annually—many more than are needed to race—in an attempt to create the fastest dogs. These social dogs are forced to spend most of their time alone, confined in warehouse-style kennels with rows of double –stacked cages for 20-23 hours a day. Many racing dogs suffer injuries while racing, and according to state records a racing greyhound dies every three days on a Florida track. Eleven of the remaining 17 greyhound racetracks in the country are in Florida. ... Dog racing is out of sync with society’s values toward animals. Today this kind of wasteful and needless suffering is rejected as a form of gambling or entertainment. According to government records now available, common racing injuries include broken necks and broken backs, dislocations, torn muscles, and paralysis. Electrocutions have also occurred when dogs make contact with a track’s high voltage lure. Some dogs die on the racetrack while others are put down due to the severity of their injuries, or simply because of their diminished value as racers."

Groups have filed a lawsuit attempting to remove the amendment from the final ballot due to what they say is misleading wording.

Assistant General Manager of Ebro Greyhound Park Mark Hess stated the 2018 racing season is on track to exceed last year.