By: Jake Stofan | Capitol News Service
July 6, 2018
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CNS) -- Four months before voters decide whether to end greyhound racing in Florida, a group supporting the ban is pointing to repots of eight dogs who died while being transported, but dog breeders say their track record speaks for itself.
Litter-mates Butternut and Chickasaw were two years old when they died after getting loose from their trainer and running a lap around the Orange Park Dog Track.
Both dogs died shortly after being transported from morning school at Orange Park to the local kennel facility about 20 minutes away.
“This is a part of the industry that most people don't know, the hauling aspect,” said Kate MacFall with Protect Dogs-Yes on 13. "That many are hauled long distances just to race.”
Six other dogs in the state died during or after being transported over the the last five years.
The deaths occurred while the dogs were being transported to five of the state's 12 dog tracks.
In each and every death, investigators found no violations of rules or state law and the cases were closed.
The industry also points to the fact an estimated 2.5 million greyhounds were successfully transported statewide in 2017 alone.
“We probably have a better safety transportation record than Greyhound Bus Lines or than a school system or than a nursing home does,” said Jack Cory with the Florida Greyhound Association. "So all of the allegations by political activists are just that. They're mirrors and they're smoke and they're political activists.”
But anti-racing advocates say the conditions on those rides can be hot and cramped.
“Some have air-conditioning and some don’t, but it’s just an interesting aspect and just one more reason why this industry is antiquated and not kind to the dogs, “ said MacFall.
Both sides agree one death is too many.
“Athletes die. Athletes get hurt. Athletes have heart attacks after a strenuous football game or a baseball game,” said Cory. "It happens. It's unfortunate.”
Without detailed causes of death on the dogs who died in we may never know whether it was simply their time, or a direct result of conditions on the haulers.
The constitutional amendment needs 60 percent approval to pass.