Residents gathered at the Humane Society of Naples on Tuesday evening in support of Amendment 13, a constitutional amendment that would end greyhound racing in Florida if approved by voters in November.
The meeting is one of 13 taking place across the state in an attempt to build grassroots support for the measure which would phase out dog racing by 2020. According to Christine Dorchak, President of GREY2K USA Worldwide which is helping to sponsor the campaign, about 8,000 greyhounds live at Florida tracks. The amendment, which was brought forward by Sen. Tom Lee(R-Brandon), would require a 60 percent vote in order to shut down racing at the 12 tracks still operating in Florida.
Dog racing is banned in 40 states, with only six states in the nation actively operating tracks including Florida, Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Texas, and West Virginia. With 12 active facilities, Dorchak said that Florida has more operational dog tracks than all the other states in the nation combined. She said that ending racing in Florida would cause a domino effect.
“It’s really going to put a stranglehold on this industry if we can end dog racing in Florida,” Dorchak said.
Sonya Stratemann, Vice-Chair of Yes on 13, said that she got involved with the issue after adopting a racing greyhound from a trainer in 2003. Florida is one of only two states that do not require injury reporting for greyhounds, according to Stratemann, who said that 458 dogs have died at Florida tracks since 2013. She said that the track in Seminole began reporting injuries in May of 2017 and that 61 instances have already been recorded, with 51 dogs having broken bones.
Liddy, a foster greyhound, was on hand for the event. She wore a cast on the right hind leg which she had broken while racing at the track in Bonita Springs, an injury that ends the career of most dogs.
“People would be shocked if they saw the things I’ve seen as a rescuer,” said Stratemann. “The dogs, the condition of their coats, their teeth are rotten. The enormous amounts of injuries coming in when we get them.”
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