Update: Reached for comment by New Times, David Bishop, who does media outreach for the Florida Greyhound Association, has responded to Theil's comments.
"The Florida Greyhound Association fully supports reporting at-track injuries and deaths, but this is more than just gathering numbers," Bishop says. "We want conditions at the tracks improved to actually prevent injuries. The Florida Legislature should do more than just gather data to make it safer for the dogs at the tracks. Grey2K's agenda is to end greyhound racing. The fact that they support decoupling proves our case that, if passed, greyhound racing will end, three thousand jobs will be lost, and 13 pari-mutuel facilities will be converted into casinos."
Original post: Last week it was announced that Grey2K, USA, with the help of The American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals and Coral Springs Rep. Jared Moskowitz, would restart the fight to have greyhound racing decoupling in race tracks and casinos throughout the state.
But the Florida Greyhound Association has decided to fight back, claiming that decoupling would not only be costly to the state, but also increase gambling. The FGA also has said that decouplng would harm greyhounds, saying that Grey2K and other advocates have no real plan to take care of the dogs should they be released from their respective race tracks.
Carey Theil, Executive Director of Grey2K USA Worldwide, says the claims being made by the FGA are just plain false.
"The FGA has a right to fight for the continuation of dog racing," Theil says. "They do not have the right, however, to simply make things up."
As it stands, Florida is one of only seven states that still have greyhound racing, including at Mardi Gras casino. The main issue is that casinos are basically forced to have greyhound racing thanks to an antiquated Florida law that says gambling is allowed only at facilities that offer racing. So tracks keep greyhound racing so they can offer lucrative slots and poker, even though studies have shown that they lose money on dog racing. Decoupling would allow gambling without the dog races.
The FGA has said they support the push to have injuries reported by race tracks. But, according to Theil, this is a lie.
Theil says that on February 19, FGA lobbyist Jack Cory opposed a measure to require injury reporting in the Senate Fiscal Policy Committee. "The FGA opposes injury reporting because it doesn't want the public to know how many greyhounds are being hurt," he says.
The FGA has also claimed that greyhound decoupling would only increase and expand gambling throughout the state, something that Theil and Grey2K refutes.
In a memo sent out by Grey2K, FGA public relations consultant David Bishop is quoted as saying that decoupling would "create 13 casinos across the state without voter approval." But, according to a study by Spectrum Gambling, greyhound decoupling would have the opposite effect, reducing gambling by an estimated $23 million.
One of the bigger claims made by the FGA, Theil says, is that decoupling will cost thousands of Floridians their jobs.
"The vast majority of employees at Florida dog tracks are unrelated to live racing, but instead support simulcasting and card rooms." Theil says. "These employees will not be affected. Also, not every dog track will end live racing."
And as for the FGA's claims that Grey2K has no plan for the dogs, should racing come to an end in Florida, Theil says their group is well established in helping retired greyhounds find good homes.
"In 2014 alone, GREY2K USA and the GREY2K USA Education Fund gave 58 donations to greyhound adoption organizations in 21 states, totaling $16,567.33," he says. "Since 2009, we have made donations totaling nearly $50,000 to local adoption organizations. We also give adoption referrals, and regularly encourage our supporters to adopt from their local group."
Just last week, Grey2K released an 80-page study that shows that reveal, among other things, that there have been 11,722 recorded greyhound racing injuries throughout the country, many that include broken legs and other injuries such as crushed skulls, broken backs, paralysis and electrocutions. More than 900 deaths have been chronicled, some who died of starvation and lack of veterinary care. There is also data showing that sixteen greyhounds tested positive for cocaine.
"As a rule, we generally ignore this nonsense and remain focused on our fight to pass greyhound decoupling and injury reporting." Theil says. "Having said that, it's worth taking the time now and then to dispel some of the most egregious falsehoods that are being circulated."