TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (The News Service of Florida) - Florida voters are being asked this year to settle a long-running dispute that could result in the elimination of dog racing in the state.
Among a long list of proposed constitutional amendments is a measure that, if passed, would end greyhound races at dog tracks by the end of 2020.
The proposed ban, placed on the ballot by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission, has drawn bipartisan support, as well as opposition.
The measure is opposed by the Florida Greyhound Association, which represents owners and breeders in the racing industry. It is also opposed by a coalition of farmers and sportsmen who contend the proposal is broader than banning dog racing because it includes language that declares, “The humane treatment of animals is a fundamental value of the people of the state of Florida.”
National Rifle Association lobbyist Marion Hammer calls the greyhound racing ban “just camouflage’ by supporters who could use the amendment to do such things as try to ban hunting and fishing.
“The real intent behind Amendment 13 is to give animal rights radicals a legal foothold in the constitution," said Hammer.
Supporters of the plan, including Kate MacFall with the Humane Society of the United States, call the concerns a scare tactic.
“The opposition is out of talking points, because we know that dogs are dying and they are in harm’s way," said MacFall. "The humane community has won the debate on the humane treatment of animals. So, they’re just desperate it seems.”
Florida is one of a handful of places in the country with dog racing, and passage of the amendment would be a serious blow for an industry that has been in the state for decades.