greyhound racing
File Photo

Massachusetts-based Grey2K is one of the moving forces behind a constitutional amendment that would end wagered greyhound racing in Florida, an attorney acknowledged in court Friday. Even though the amendment was placed on November’s ballot by Florida’s Constitutional Revision Commission (CRC), Stephen Turner, attorney for the Committee to Protect Dogs admitted its extensive involvement in getting the CRC to approve the proposed language.

The Committee to Protect Dogs was in a Tallahassee courtroom Friday asking Circuit Judge Karen Gievers to allow them to intervene in a lawsuit filed by the Florida Greyhound Association, the group representing greyhound owners and breeders. The association wants the amendment thrown-off the ballot because it alleges the language is misleading and fails to inform voters that ending greyhound racing would allow 12 Florida tracks to convert their facilities into “mini-casinos” – containing poker rooms and slot machines.

Retired Florida Supreme Court Justice Major Hardin, attorney for the Greyhound Association, told Judge Gievers their lawsuit is on the merits of the ballot language, not the legality of dog racing and urged her to deny the Committee’s motion to intervene. The judge agreed.

She scheduled another hearing for July 26 to judge the merits of the lawsuit.

Opponents of greyhound racing have unsuccessfully tried for years to convince the state legislature to ban commercial dog racing. They are using the constitutional revision commission process to try and convince voters to do what the legislature refused to do.

Greyhound racing has been in Florida for nearly a century. Supporters admit dog racing isn’t as popular as in the past, but it still generates millions in tax revenue for the state of Florida. Greyhound owners and breeders are typically small business owners and passage of this amendment would put them out of business. Groups like Grey2K and the Humane Society of the U.S. have pushed similar bans throughout the country claiming the dogs are abused, something greyhound owners deny.

Regardless of the outcome of the July 26 hearing, this case is likely to be appealed all the way to the Florida Supreme Court, which will decide if voters will have the chance to approve or deny the amendment. It takes 60% voter approval to add an amendment to Florida’s Constitution.