New bill calls for reports on greyhound injuries

100 greyhounds died on 13 Fla. tracks over last year

TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – It's a sight to see -- and a gambling tradition since the 1930's -- but there's a dirty side to greyhound racing that not everyone knows about. Florida lawmakers are ready to change that.

"Every time they race there is the threat of them being killed," said Sen. Maria Sachs, D-Delray Beach. "Now, we're going to have to require the tracks to report the injuries because it has been shown that there are injuries and there are deaths today in Florida's racetracks."

For more than 80 years in Florida greyhounds have raced their lives away without any structured oversight as to dog deaths or injuries.

"The industry really doesn't want you to know how many dogs are being injured," said David Wolf, with the National Greyhound Adoption Program. "The industry doesn't want you to know where the dogs go when they leave the tracks. We're open six days a week, it's totally non-profit."

Organizations like Wolf's are fighting to end dog racing.

"One track had 120 broken legs, one track," Wolf said.

And in the last year, close to 100 greyhounds have died on the 13 dog tracks in Florida. But now a bill passed by the Senate Gaming Committee would require records of greyhound racing injuries.

Dan Atkins, owner of Mardis Gras Casino, said he is ready for the proposed legislation.

"Injury reporting is not a problem in Hollywood," said Atkins. "We've been injury-reporting at our sister track in West Virginia, by law, for years. And we already maintain records on injured dogs at Mardis Gras as well."

This is just the beginning for stricter regulations with greyhound racing. Senate Bill 742 still has to go to the appropriations committee and then the Senate floor before it becomes law.

Florida is one of only two states -- along with Alabama -- that currently do not report greyhound injuries to the public.

About the Author:

Jacey Birch anchors Local 10 News Mornings each weekday from 4:30 a.m. to 7 a.m. She is also proud to be the animal advocate for Local 10's investigative team.