TALLAHASSEE— At a press conference with state lawmakers today, greyhound protection group GREY2K USA and the ASPCA (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals) released a report and video revealing that 74 racing greyhounds died in Florida between May 31 and December 31, 2013. The report, titled “The Final Lap,” summarizes Greyhound Death Notifications that were obtained from the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering. Greyhound death reporting became mandatory on May 21, 2013 after the state adopted its first ever administrative rule on the humane treatment of greyhounds.
“I’m disappointed that Florida is one of only two states in the United States that doesn’t require greyhound injury reporting,” said Senator Eleanor Sobel (D-Hollywood). “We must ensure that those who seek to benefit from racing greyhounds are held accountable for the neglect, poor treatment and abuse of these elegant animals. Greyhounds deserve to live healthy lives.”
“A racing greyhound dies in Florida every three days,” said Carey Theil, executive director of GREY2K USA. “These dogs are dying needlessly in races that only take place because of an outdated state mandate which requires greyhound racing.”
According to state data, greyhounds died at ten racetracks across the state, with the Daytona Beach Kennel Club and Derby Lane reporting a shocking 12 deaths each. The deaths were due to catastrophic injuries – including one instance of a dog who was bumped into the rail during schooling and electrocuted – illnesses, and suspected heat stroke, among other causes. Fifty-one of the dogs that died were under three-years-old. One of the dogs that died was a 17-month old greyhound who, according to its official death notification, was a “puppy” that “had not been named yet.” The dog died after falling into a racetrack rail.
“This report illustrates the urgent need for more stringent laws to protect greyhounds and prevent these unnecessary deaths in the future,” said Ann Church, vice president of state affairs for the ASPCA. “Greyhounds are gentle, loving dogs, and the ’sport‘of dog racing is cruel, costly and quickly losing support nationwide.”
The humane groups also released a two-minute video titled “No Sunshine,” which contains footage from the final races of four greyhounds who died at Florida tracks in 2013. “No Sunshine” features original music by Walter Sickert and the Army of Broken Toys, a critically acclaimed musical group based in Boston.
In Florida, state law requires businesses with gambling licenses to also operate greyhound tracks, which costs a staggering $35 million each year. Advocates are urging state lawmakers to eliminate this mandate that requires gaming facilities to hold dog races, and to pass Senate Bill 742 and House Bill 933, a greyhound injury reporting law.
To download “The Final Lap”, and to view “No Sunshine”, go to GREY2KUSA.org/FLdeaths.