Will voters decide to ban greyhound racing in Florida?

Those in industry forcefully dispute allegations of abuse toward dogs

LOXAHATCHEE, Fla. – Amendment 13 would ban greyhound racing in Florida. With many opinions on the matter, Local 10's Glenna Milberg spoke to people on both sides of the track.

Sonia Stratemann, of Elite Greyhound Adoptions, has been taking in racing dogs for 15 years. 

She estimates that she’s taken 1,000 dogs -- all who came to the rescue with broken legs and some who were on the brink of being euthanized. She is now working to get Amendment 13 passed.

The amendment to the state constitution would not only ban the 87-year run of greyhound racing in Florida, but it would even make the wagering a crime. 

"They are putting them on tracks every day, risking catastrophic injury and as soon as they are not making a profit they dump them onto the rescue," Stratemann said. 

State records show almost 500 greyhounds have died at Florida tracks in the five years since record keeping began from injuries. Some were even electrocuted on the rail and most of the dogs were only 1 or 2 years old.

Those in the industry forcefully dispute allegations of abuse.

"No one sees that a trainer spends 15 hours a day taking care of the dogs," Mike Newlin, of the Sanford Orlando Kennel Club, told The Orlando Sentinel. "There is nothing more important to me than a greyhound making it around that track safe."

A spokesman for the Florida Greyhound Association said the passage of Amendment 13 will "cost over 3,000 Florida jobs, put over 8,000 beautiful greyhounds at risk and create mini-casinos throughout Florida."

Though the greyhound racing industry has declined over time, South Florida's tracks are growing their businesses by casino gaming, which would not be affected if Florida voters put a ban on greyhound racing in the state constitution.  

About the Author:

Glenna Milberg joined Local 10 News in September 1999 to report on South Florida's top stories and community issues. She also serves as co-host on Local 10's public affairs broadcast, "This Week in South Florida."