Voters could decide fate of dog racing in Florida

A Florida state senator says it's time to end greyhound racing for good across the state.

A state senator wants to put an end to all dog racing in Florida.

Back in June, a First Coast News Investigation uncovered 18 cases where a dozen racing greyhounds tested positive for having trace amounts of cocaine in their system.

Sen. Tom Lee from Hillsborough says that investigation along with an avalanche of reports played a role in proposing an idea to amend the state constitution and ban all dog-racing in the state.

Lee filed an amendment to the state constitution that would phase out all dog racing by 2021.

The amendment would have to be approved by the Constitution Review Commission. If 60 percent of the commission approve, it would then be put before the voters on the 2018 ballot.

Florida residents could get to vote on the controversial issue of dog racing.

"Some of the stories of doping and cocaine use and the caging of these animals, it's beginning to defy the conscience of most of us who are watching this go on,” Lee said.

Lee says that's part of the reason why he wants to phase out all dog racing by July of 2021.

"It's reducing the inhumanity and the cruelty and then trying to stop the state from losing money on this program and then reduce a little bit of gaming in the process," Lee said.

Lee is looking to amend the state constitution and let the voters decide.

"One special interest group or another seems to get involved and stop the wheels of progress," Lee said.

The idea of seeing an end to dog racing certainly has the support of First Coast No Homeless Pets.

"Greyhound dogs are suffering every day in the state of Florida, because we allow racing, so the sooner we can end it the better," said founder First Coast No Homeless Pets Rick DuCharme.

DuCharme would prefer racing end today, but Lee says he's talked to owners in the industry and says reducing the amount of race days over three years is the best option.

 

We reached out to Bestbet Orange Park for comment and they told us they've not been able to review the proposal so they're unable to provide comment.

Over the course of the next several months, Lee expects smaller committees to take up this discussion. It will then go to the 37 member Constitution Revision Commission. If the commission approves the amendment with 60 percent of its members, the amendment will then go before voters on the 2018 ballot.

 

© 2017 WTLV-TV


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