Imagine that the government required grocery stores to sell horse meat in order to operate. Or record stores had to sell a certain number of eight-track tapes in order to be licensed to sell CDs? Businesses would crumble under such requirements to sell cruel or unwanted products. These alarming restrictions may seem to be from a fictional society characterized by over regulation and government overreach. But in Florida, the state of greyhound racing in Florida is just as scary – and very real.
Florida law requires businesses with gambling licenses to also operate greyhound tracks. This forced union of two unrelated forms of gambling makes no sense and inflicts unnecessary cruelty on greyhounds, who spend their racing lives cruelly confined, suffering terrible injuries, and may be killed once they are no longer profitable.
The Florida legislature recently released a Gambling Impact Study that highlights just how preposterous it is to require greyhound racing when it costs a staggering $35 million each year. We have long known that greyhound racing is a dying sport – only seven states still operate tracks – but this assertion is further evident from reports by racetrack executives who have said they would gladly shut down their dog tracks if they could because, “removing the requirement [for greyhound racing] will help us…as we would run fewer races which, in turn, will lower our operating costs… There just are not enough folks out there to come to the track and wager on these races. There is not any interest.”
Animal protection issues frequently pit the welfare of animals against those who seek to profit from animal suffering. It is often that the more our adversaries stand to profit from abuse, the tougher our fight to prevent cruelty. In greyhound racing, where tracks are losing millions of dollars from engaging in this intolerable activity, profit and the prevention of cruelty are on the same side, so there should be no question. Ending greyhound racing is not only a moral imperative – it is a no-brainer when it comes to good business.
The reason this current system exists is to provide a guaranteed income to dog breeders. But just like other businesses, as society changes, the market changes. Florida provides a profit to dog breeders who do not want this money to stop flowing. The state does not guarantee the income of other workers, so why are dog breeders protected when their profits cause the dogs to suffer?
Instead of forcing taxpayers to cover the cost of regulating race tracks that businesses don’t want, Florida should “decouple” greyhound racing from other forms of gambling. As this report shows, thousands of greyhounds would be spared from this cruel, dangerous, and outdated activity if businesses weren’t forced to make these dogs run. We urge Florida to eliminate greyhound racing in the state once and for all.
For more information on the ASPCA, or to join the ASPCA Advocacy Brigade, please visit www.aspca.org.