Amendment 13 would outlaw wagering on dog racing, most notably greyhound racing, in Florida.
We estimate little to no financial impact.
Supporters argue that the greyhound racing industry, as a whole, is cruel to the animals. They claim the dogs are bred purely for racing and from birth are kept in small cages and inhumane conditions, including the long transportation trips that have led to the death of several dogs. They say that the grueling nature of the races places the dogs at risk of injury and premature death, citing the fact that a dog dies every three days on a Florida track. Over 800 dogs in the last decade have tested positive for drugs, including cocaine and other potentially performance-enhancing substances. In general, they say greyhound racing is an archaic sport that is no longer acceptable to modern attitudes about animal welfare.
Opponents of the ban claim that the breeding, kennels, transportation, racing, and general conditions for greyhound racing are no different than those for horse racing, hunting dogs, etc. They say that animals in those sports are also bred from birth to compete and that all the animals in these industries, including greyhound racing, are respected and revered as high-performance athletes with jobs which allow them to stay in top condition and as healthy as possible. They say there are no incentives, financial or otherwise, to mistreat, misfeed, or abuse the animals and that conditions are exaggerated by animal rights activists. In addition, they claim that banning this industry would directly eliminate 3,000 jobs in Florida.
Animal racing is a high-performance sport and does carry some risks for the athletes, just the same as human athletes. Since dogs cannot be compensated with cash, their living conditions and treatment have to serve as decent proxies. Some greyhound owners in Florida have opened their facilities to the public for evaluation of conditions, citing that the legislature declined to outlaw greyhound racing after careful inspection concluded the conditions were not inhumane. Successful racing horses have notoriously good lifestyles—eating top food, getting daily nail trimming, massages, and many other amenities for the horses. While the conditions for greyhounds might not be as good as these for horses, and may not be as pampered as dog-lovers might want to see all dogs enjoy, supporters of Amendment 13 may be exaggerating the negative nature of the living conditions for racing dogs and lack evidence to demonstrate they’re receiving consistent maltreatment. Social and economic pressures are a more appropriate way to end greyhound racing than a legal ban.
The Voters’ Guide examines the proposed amendments to the Florida Constitution that are on the Nov. 6, 2018, ballot.