ORANGE CITY, Fla. (WOFL FOX 35) - A Florida state senator is trying again to get dog racing banned in the Sunshine State, but after repeated failures he's taking a new route: making it illegal in the state's constitution. Dog racing advocates though, say many Florida communities like this will lose money if dog racing ends.
Florida State Sen. Tom Lee, a Republican from Florida’s 20th District who’s spearheading the amendment initiative, said there's an annual push to ban dog racing in Florida.
“Every year there's a bill and it always gets tripped-up by a special interest group who either hijacks it for leverage on another issue or simply doesn't want to see it happen,” Lee lamented.
Florida State Rep. Carlos Guillermo-Smith, a Democrat from District 49, said the dog racing industry uses its cash to keep it legal.
“They write very large checks and contributions to lawmakers, and I believe that's one of the reasons it's been so hard to pass greyhound racing policy,” Smith said.
So instead they want to change the state's constitution to get it banned. Then Floridians could vote on dog racing directly. Opponents of dog racing call it brutal and inhumane.
“Dog trainers are abusing these animals,” said Rep. Smith
The Florida Greyhound Association, which represents the racing industry, opposes the amendment. On their Facebook page, they're raising money to fight the move in the state capitol. People at the Orange City Card & Racing Club said they see both sides of the issue.
“The care and treatment of those dogs is exemplary for the racing dogs, the ones that qualify for the racing,” said Frank Iaconis.
“A lot of those dogs get dehydrated when they're racing, a lot of those dogs aren’t taken care of the way they're supposed to be,” AJ Cribb said.
If the amendment makes it on to the ballot next November, it will need 60% of the vote to become law.