The Florida Senate unanimously passed a bill that would make it mandatory for the owners of dog-racing tracks, greyhound-breeding kennels and veterinarians to report any injuries to racing greyhounds to the state Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering within seven days. Of the 11 states in which greyhound racing is still legal, Florida is only one of two that doesn't require mandatory reporting of injuries to racing dogs. Florida has 12 dog-racing tracks – more than any other state in the nation – and currently only requires that dog deaths be reported to the state. The Florida Greyhound Association, which is the trade association for the dog-racing industry, criticized the bill, saying that it doesn't protect the dogs at all – it merely requires after-the-fact reporting. The association says it supports a bill that would require track owners to make significant upgrades to racetracks to improve dog safety instead.
According to a report called "High Stakes: Greyhound Racing in the United States," eleased by the ASPCA and greyhound-welfare organization Grey2K USA Worldwide,
183 greyhound deaths were reported in Florida between May 2013 and November 2014; that's an average of one greyhound death every three days.
"We applaud the Florida Senate for passing a bill to require that greyhound injuries be publicly reported," Cary Theil, executive director of Grey2K said in a statement earlier today. "Florida is one of only two states, with Alabama, that does not provide this information to the public. This is a simple measure that will increase transparency and help greyhounds."
Theil says that if that if the bills supported by the Florida Greyhound Association, which would also require track upgrades, manages to get support in the Legislature, Grey2K would support it as well; however, he says, he is not confident that the bill will move forward this session.
"The language of the bills is good language that would help greyhounds," Theil says of the two bills, which are being called the Greyhound Safety Act. "Having said that, and I told this to the sponsor directly, I do not believe they are a sincere attempt to pass legislation."
Theil says he thinks the FGA, which has traditionally opposed injury reporting, knows the Greyhound Safety Act is unlikely to gain any traction – the injury-reporting bill, however, does have support in both houses, making it much more likely to pass this session.
A different bill introduced in the House on Monday would take things a step further when it comes to regulating the greyhound-racing industry. As part of a massive gambling-overhaul measure, the House's bill would require greyhound injury reporting and also decouple dog racing from some gambling establishments. Currently, track owners keep dog racing alive because without it, they cannot offer other forms of gambling. The House bill would reduce greyhound racing by giving some gaming establishments the option to continue gaming without the dog-racing component.
"We are grateful to have the support of leadership in both chambers, as we fight for greyhound protection laws," Theil said. "We have more support than ever before, and are optimistic that lawmakers will pass both greyhound decoupling and injury reporting this year."