The Humane Society of the United States issued an Action Alert today reminding members that, even with the good news that the bill has passed through the Senate Committee, they must still call their legislators to urge them to vote yes on the greyhound decoupling bill. The fight is almost over, but Senate President Andy Gardiner, R-Orlando, will now have to refer the bill to another committee before it is ready for a full vote by the chamber.
As the law is written now, in order for a gambling operation to offer poker and slot machines, they must also include greyhound racing as part of their operation. The decoupling bill would end that requirement and allow track owners who want to close down their dog racing operation to do so.
Sponsored by Democratic State Senator Maria Sachs, this bill has had many supporters among animal rights groups and, surprisingly, some track owners who want to stop offering dog racing because they lose a lot of money on caring for the dogs. When there is less money coming in, there is less money for the care and feeding of the greyhounds. And the standard of care in the industry has never been that high to begin with.
In a 2014 NPR interview, a trainer by the name of Alan Murray who works at Mardi Gras, a track near Miami told “All Things Considered” that keeping dogs healthy is in the best interest of the owners. If the dogs aren’t healthy, they won’t perform well, and won’t make money for their owners. “If you’re cutting corners, you’re not making money,” Murray says. “You don’t get paid unless your dog runs fourth or better. If you cut corners, then that guy next to you is going to whip your butt.”
But according to research conducted by GREY2K USA WORLDWIDE, “…thousands of greyhounds endure lives of terrible confinement and many suffer serious injuries. Dogs in the racing industry are also subject to standard practices that are cruel and inhumane, like the killing of unprofitable dogs and the use of 4-D meat. Greyhound racing goes against the values of our community and should be prohibited.”
The action alert by the HSUS points out that there has been a “dramatic downturn in public interest in live greyhound racing over the past 20 years and plunging tax revenues from the activity.”
Sen. Sachs agrees. “The attendance has gone down,” Said Sachs, “The treatment of the dogs, of course, has gone down as well because they’re not making any money anymore.” She wants Florida to come into the twenty-first century.
Though many track owners are, for once, on the side of the efforts of animal rights groups, Palm Beach Kennel Club’s Vice President Joe Rooney says he many not close down his track. “Some tracks will close, he says, but his is one of three or four that will keep racing.” Joe Rooney is a cousin of Florida Congressman Tom Rooney (R-17th District)
Local activists just may have to continue to work at getting the Palm Beach Kennel Club to close its track even after the bill is passed. But activists are patient and persistent. If the bill passes and West Palm Beach’s track remains open, the protests and campaigns to end dog racing will continue.