After failing to push through legislation over the past couple of years, a bill requiring racetracks to report greyhound injuries was passed by the Florida Senate on Tuesday.
Senate Bill 2, titled, "The Victoria Q Gaetz Racing Greyhound Protection Act," has been championed by greyhound safety advocates Grey2K USA, the Humane Society, and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals.
This means that the days of racetracks keeping their dogs in poor conditions and not having them treated should injury or sickness arise is a thing of the past. Until the bill was passed, Florida remained one of only two states, the other being Alabama, that did not require injury reporting from its racetracks.
"We applaud the Florida Senate for passing a bill to require that greyhound injuries be publicly reported," says Carey Theil, executive director of Grey2K USA. "This is a simple measure that will increase transparency and help greyhounds."
The measure will require racetrack owners to report greyhound injuries via a signed form within seven days of when the injury occurs. The form, the bill says, must be completed and signed under oath.
Among the required info that must be given are the greyhound's registered name, ear tattoo numbers, and the color, weight, and sex of the animal. The form must also specify the type of injury the greyhound suffered and where on its body, and, possibly most important, the estimated recovery time from its injury.
If the injury occurred while the greyhound was racing, the operator must report the distance, grade, race, and post position of the greyhound when it was injured. Weather conditions when the injury occurred, time, and track conditions must also be reported.
"We're grateful to have the support of leadership in both chambers as we fight for greyhound protection laws," Theill adds. "We have more support than ever before and are optimistic that lawmakers will pass both greyhound decoupling and injury reporting this year."
Grey2K and other greyhound advocates are still pushing for a decoupling law to be passed. Via an antiquated Florida gaming law, casinos in the state are basically forced to have greyhound racing. The law says certain games are allowed only at facilities that offer racing. So tracks keep greyhound racing so they can offer lucrative slots and poker, even though they lose money on dog racing. Decoupling would allow gambling without the dog races.
Because keeping things humane for the greyhounds costs money, mixed with the fact that greyhound racing isn't as lucrative as it once was, the state lost a little more than $3 million on greyhound racing alone last year, according to a study by Spectrum Gaming Group.
The bill did meet with some misgivings, at least from the Florida Greyhound Association, which says the bill doesn't do enough to protect greyhounds.
"While Senate Bill 2 is a good first step, it doesn't go far enough in protecting racing greyhounds," FGA spokesman David Bishop tells New Times. "Reporting at-track dog injuries collects statistical data but doesn't do anything to prevent injuries or deaths."
Bishop also points out that four racing greyhounds died at Florida racetracks in January. Three of those deaths were over issues at tracks, he says, citing state data. With that, he says the legislature should look to also passing Senate Bill 262.
"We call on the Senate to move with similar urgency in passage of SB 262," Bishop adds. "SB 262 requires track owners to make inexpensive but significant enhancements to their facilities that will protect the safety of racing greyhounds."
You can read Senate Bill 2 below: