ORLANDO, Fla. — One of many amendments on the Election Day ballot, Amendment 13, would put an end to greyhound racing in Florida.
- Greyhound owner: Amendment 13 could displace thousands of dogs
- Animal rights groups say adoption groups could help them find homes
- RESOURCE: Making Sense of Amendment 13
- LINK: Read the full Amendment 13 text
But if the amendment passes, thousands of racing dogs could need new homes, says one greyhound owner.
Animal rights groups argue greyhound racing at tracks like the Orlando Sanford Kennel Club in Longwood is cruel to the dogs. Data from the State of Florida’s Division of Pari-Mutual Wagering shows on average, a dog dies at one of the state’s 11 racetracks every three days.
Steve Kubicki ran one of the state’s largest greyhound breeding farms for several years. He says he stopped breeding greyhounds because he didn’t like what happened to them after they went to the racetracks.
“Whether it has any talent or not, you really have an obligation to take care of the dog,” Kubicki said. “Once this dog’s not making money for you, I’m not saying all owners, but it’s a business decision that’s made on the dog’s life. And I always struggled with that, and it’s the reason why I’m out.”
Kathi Lacasse owns about 100 greyhounds that race at the track in Longwood. She says the dogs only race about 30 minutes a year and are treated well.
“We only make money if they run well, and they need to be happy, healthy, fed well,” Lacasse said.
Lacasse says because breeders and owners will no longer get income from racing, they’ll be forced to find new homes for their dogs.
She admits the industry is not as profitable as it once was, and she says it should be allowed to phase out slowly. But Lacasse says she believes if the amendment is passes, some tracks will end racing by early 2019.
“Let the industry decline on its own, and then the dogs will be taken care of as time goes,” she said. “These adoption groups can’t take 5,000 to 7,000 dogs all at once.”
But Kubicki says there are plenty of adoption groups that can find homes for the dogs.
“There are plenty of petting agencies that are blocked from the tracks now, to take these dogs,” said Kubicki said.
If approved, Amendment 13 would phase out all commercial dog racing that’s connected to wagering by the end of 2020.