Support local journalism. Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club.

While controversy surrounds Florida greyhound racing, the sport is quietly fading away 

Page 3 of 7

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JEREMY REPER
  • Photo by Jeremy Reper

Rep. Carlos Guillermo Smith, D-Orlando, new to the Florida House, tried his hand in the 2017 session at legislation to stop harmful anabolic steroids administered to the dogs. That bill didn't make it through.

Smith wasn't under any illusion about stopping racing as a whole with his bill – he just wants the dogs to be treated as humanely as possible, he says.

His bill, HB 743, made it through the finish line in the House earlier this month, but failed due to a lack of support in the Senate before the session ended.

Smith says the idea for the bill came when he heard the absurdly high amount of greyhounds given steroids – 50 percent of them in the state, he says he heard a lobbyist admit at a committee hearing.

"I never thought it was that much," he says.

Smith's bill focused on banning testosterone from being used in racing dogs to help their performance. He reels off a litany of harmful side effects the drugs can cause.

"It can make the dogs more aggressive," he says. "It prevents female dogs from being in heat. There's just all kinds of chaos."

click to enlarge PHOTO BY JEREMY REPER
  • Photo by Jeremy Reper

He goes on to list virilization, liver problems and gastrointestinal problems, as well as problems with the dogs' heart functions. Those with long-term health problems often don't end up getting adopted after they finish racing, either, Smith says.

A big part of the reason for steroid use is because it's easier to prevent female dogs from being in heat than to separate the male and female dogs. That costs more money and takes more effort, Smith says, so many trainers just don't do it.

"I keep hearing 'why not let us give [the dogs] a little bit?'" Smith says, chuckling. "They shouldn't be allowed to give them at all."

Lobbyist Jack Cory, who represents the greyhound industry in Florida, says Smith had the completely wrong idea about anabolic steroids. Cory defends the steroids given to female dogs as completely legal and not harmful at all.

Tags: ,

We welcome readers to submit letters regarding articles and content in Orlando Weekly. Letters should be a minimum of 150 words, refer to content that has appeared on Orlando Weekly, and must include the writer's full name, address, and phone number for verification purposes. No attachments will be considered. Writers of letters selected for publication will be notified via email. Letters may be edited and shortened for space.

Email us at

Support Local Journalism.
Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club

Local journalism is information. Information is power. And we believe everyone deserves access to accurate independent coverage of their community and state. Our readers helped us continue this coverage in 2020, and we are so grateful for the support.

Help us keep this coverage going in 2021. Whether it's a one-time acknowledgement of this article or an ongoing membership pledge, your support goes to local-based reporting from our small but mighty team.

Join the Orlando Weekly Press Club for as little as $5 a month.


Never miss a beat

Sign Up Now

Subscribe now to get the latest news delivered right to your inbox.

Read the Digital Print Issue

January 19, 2022

View more issues


© 2022 Orlando Weekly

Website powered by Foundation