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Greyhound Injury Bill Nears Finish In Senate

Rainer Hungershausen

Greyhounds are taking the lead with an injury reporting bill already rounding the corner. It’s one of the first bills Senate President Andy Gardiner has said he wants to see cross the finish line this session. The measure requires the Department of Business and Professional Regulation to track injuries greyhounds sustain while racing. Officials say, a racing greyhound dies in Florida every three days. But Jack Cory who represents the Florida Greyhound Association says the bill won’t help.

“We know what’s causing these deaths and we know what’s causing the injuries. Therefore I would ask you and every animal lover to support Sen. Chris Smith’s (D-Fort Lauderdale) bill 262, which will stop them majority of the injuries, stop the deaths, with a three-point safety plan,” Cory says.

Smith is sponsoring a bill that would require the Department of Business and Professional Regulations to revoke paramutuel permits from any tracks found guilty of animal cruelty. That’s different from Sen. Eleanor Sobel’s (D--Hollywood) bill, which gives the DBPR the option of investigating any violations.

But Kate MacFall from the U.S. Humane Society says increasing transparency through measures like Sobel’s injury reporting bill has been proven to reduce greyhound deaths.

“When this bill passed in Massachusetts, 43 percent fewer dogs died. That’s almost half, so that’s huge. It would save a lot of lives and it will highlight or shine the light on the number of dogs being injured," MacFall says.

MacFall says when people start looking at the industry more closely, it causes a change in the way industry officials make decisions.

“The industry is set up to make money off of them, so to pay a really pricey vet bill, which it is pricey, because I’ve taken dogs with broken legs and it is pricey, There’s no money. So they would just be put down. So, if people are looking – I don’t know that it’s even conscious, but if people are looking there are fewer that go down," MacFall says.

MacFall says her organization is hoping for a measure that would decouple grey hound racing and card rooms for paramutuel facilities. – In other words they’re hoping to get rid of a rule requiring paramutuels to hold a certain number of races in order to continue offering other kinds of gaming such as card rooms. It’s a move a group of bi partisan lawmakers has been pushing. But So far, no such legislation has been filed.