Guest Opinion: Oppose Constitutional Amendment 13

Amendment 13 to the Florida Constitution is being characterized as an amendment to end wagering (betting) on greyhound races in Florida, but it goes much further than that. Amendment 13 is a “Trojan horse” amendment hiding its real purpose.

In short, Amendment 13 is not really about greyhound racing, it’s a front for much more.

If Amendment 13 is passed, extreme animal rights organizations will have a new constitutional standard to challenge any and all activities they find objectionable.

In fact, many believe the first action of these extreme animal rights groups will be to immediately begin work to ban all hunting and fishing, including recreational fishing. That alone would have a huge negative impact on tourism in Florida, as well as remove the ability of FWC to effectively manage wildlife populations.

Amendment 13 includes the phrase:

“The humane treatment of animals is a fundamental value of the people of the State of Florida.” That language will not appear on the ballot BUT IT IS IN THE AMENDMENT.

Since no one wants animals treated inhumanely, I and the vast majority of Floridians would agree with that statement in general terms. However, there is a vast difference between what the public believes is “inhumane” and what animal rights extremist groups and their supporters would call “inhumane.”

The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), is the lead organization pushing for Amendment 13’s passage. HSUS opposes hundreds of common and traditional activities involving animals because they claim they are “inhumane.”

In fact, the list of activities HSUS and other animal extremist organizations find objectionable is huge and includes hunting, fishing, farming, animal husbandry, marine parks and more. That’s what this is really about.

Those groups firmly believe that animals shouldn’t be owned as pets because it’s inhumane.

Clearly the intent is to establish a legal foothold in the Florida Constitution that they can use to go after legitimate ownership and activities involving pets, other domestic animals and wildlife, that these organizations don’t like.

If you own a dog or cat that is like a member of your family, watch out for Amendment 13. It could shatter your way of life if some animal rights organization decides to challenge the right to own a pet or have a pet in your home or on your property by calling it “inhumane.”

Make no mistake, training, owning and using working dogs like military dogs, cattle dogs, seeing-eye dogs, companion dogs, police dogs, or any animal that gives aid, protection, safety, and comfort to humans could be challenged as “inhumane” if Amendment 13 passes.

Whether you are voting Absentee, Early Voting or at the Polls on Tuesday, November 6, 2018, Vote against Amendment 13. The hidden language in Amendment 13 – that will not be on the ballot – is dangerous. Amendment 13 should be soundly defeated if you value your rights and preservation of true animal protections at home and in the field.

Marion P. Hammer is past president of the National Rifle Association and is Executive Director of Unified Sportsmen of Florida