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ASPCA, GREY2K USA Provide New Insight into Unsavory Florida Greyhound Racing Industry

National animal welfare groups issue groundbreaking report detailing cruelty to Florida’s greyhounds; research shows Floridians disfavor the greyhound racing industry
December 6, 2011

TALLAHASSEE, Fla.--The ASPCA® (The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals®) and GREY2K USA today provided groundbreaking insight into Florida's inhumane greyhound racing industry by releasing the first-ever comprehensive report detailing the cruel conditions and weak financial viability of commercial dog racing in Florida, as well as a statewide poll of voters' attitudes toward greyhound racing.

GREY2K USA, a national nonprofit greyhound protection organization, with funding from the ASPCA, released the report, an up-to-date compilation of data from official sources, such as state records, news reports, and records maintained by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

"Greyhounds at Florida dog tracks endure lives of terrible confinement, and many suffer serious injuries," said GREY2K USA President and General Counsel Christine A. Dorchak. "For the first time, the public will have detailed information on greyhound racing in the state."

The report details inhumane conditions at Florida's racetracks, including the following:

  • Thousands of racing greyhounds are confined in rows of stacked cages for 20 to 23 hours per day;
  • Florida does not have any rules governing kennel conditions or cage sizes, meaning many greyhounds are unable to stand in their small cages;
  • Multiple cases of severe neglect have occurred at Florida dog tracks, including starvation and lack of veterinary care;
  • A track manager admitted to treating greyhounds with pesticides as a way to save on flea and tick treatments, claiming the practice was an industry standard; and
  • Greyhounds have repeatedly tested positive for serious drugs, including cocaine and anabolic steroids.

"Florida is one of only seven states still racing dogs, but it operates more tracks than all the other states combined," said Ann Church, senior director of ASPCA Government Relations. "Commercial track attendance is declining as an increasingly informed public refuses to support such an inhumane industry, but each year, thousands of young and healthy greyhounds continue to be severely injured or killed. It's time for greyhound racing to stop."

A newly released poll conducted by Hill Research Consultants and commissioned by the ASPCA reveals that Florida voters strongly object to the inhumane treatment of Florida's racing dogs, with more than 76 percent of Florida voters believing dogs deserve to be protected from the cruel harm and suffering that this industry causes them. Further, 73 percent of voters object to the near consistent confinement of racing dogs and 71 percent protest the high number of injuries and lack of proper veterinary care greyhounds receive.

The ASPCA's research also found that the majority (54 percent) of Florida voters hold an unfavorable impression of the state greyhound racing industry, with 33 percent holding a very unfavorable impression. By a 2-to-1 margin, Florida voters dismiss the importance of the greyhound industry to the state economy, with 63 percent of voters describing the greyhound racing industry as not at all important (31 percent) or not very important (32 percent). GREY2K USA's report substantiates these findings, noting that paid attendance at Florida dog tracks has declined by 69 percent between 2004 and 2010, with the total amount gambled on pari-mutuel racing declining 35 percent, and that industry leaders have repeatedly acknowledged that dog racing is no longer viable in Florida.

Earlier this year, lawmakers in Florida nearly passed greyhound decoupling legislation which would remove the legal requirement that commercial dog tracks host live racing in order to be licensed and allow track owners to close unprofitable tracks. Despite having passed both the House and Senate, the bill died with the end of Florida's legislative session. Similar greyhound decoupling bills have already been filed for the 2012 legislative session, and the organizations are hopeful that if passed, the legislation will significantly reduce, and possibly end, greyhound racing in Florida.

For more information on the ASPCA's poll, please contact Rebecca Goldrick at rebeccag@aspca.org or 917-628-9780. For more information about the ASPCA's work to end greyhound racing, please visit www.aspca.org, and for more information on the inherent cruelty of greyhound racing, please visit www.GREY2KUSA.org.