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Ballot measure aims to ban greyhound racing in FL

Amendment 13 up for vote this November
Posted: 9:50 PM, Jul 26, 2018
Updated: 2018-07-26 21:51:59-04

There's a ballot measure this November asking voters to consider banning dog racing in the state of Florida.

Amendment 13 aims to outlaw greyhound racing at dog tracks by 2020. A measure like that passing would affect tracks like the Palm Beach Kennel Club on Belvedere Road in West Palm Beach .

The measure has spurred a lawsuit by the Florida Greyhound Association, which is asking the courts to keep the amendment off the November ballot.

On Thursday, a Florida judge heard first arguments on the lawsuit.

Sonia Stratemann, founder of Elite Greyhound Adoption in Loxahatchee, supports Amendment 13. She has been rescuing former racing dogs for 15 years.

"We get the dogs in after they're finished racing when they're injured or no longer wanted anymore by the racing industry," she said.

She said she receives a lot of dogs with broken legs like Bart, who retired after sustaining an injury.

"He broke his leg in Palm Beach and has been recovering for 7 months," she said.

Many are rescued before being euthanized. Stratemann said one of her rescues was also used as a blood bank at a veterinarian clinic for two years after being given up by its trainer due to an injury.

"It's very common for them to come in infested with fleas and ticks, internal parasites," said Stratemann.

She said she supports Amendment 13 and wants to see it on the November ballot. She said it could make a difference when it comes to claims of mistreatment and abuse in the industry.

Meantime, trainer Kurt Trzeciak with Lester Raines Kennel believes the amendment is unfair. He works with many dogs that race at the Palm Beach Kennel Club and said his dogs are treated and cared for when injured.

"Have there been issues? There have been issues in any industry, whether it's law enforcement, politicians, what have you," he said. "And as an industry, we have tried to take care of that ourselves. You can't demonize an entire industry due to the actions of one or two people and that's our who thing. It's our goal to ensure the dogs receive the best care that they possibly can."

He says his team spends up to 16 hours caring for the dogs every day, with proper food, exercise and socializing with other dogs.

“We work holidays. Family is secondary to what we do. The Greyhounds are our family first," said Trzeciak.

The lawsuit asking to take Amendment 13 off the ballot claims the language written in the legislation is misleading and inaccurate to voters.

The group says voters are not aware the measure would only ban commercial dog racing, which means kennel clubs would be allowed to continue dog competitions.

The lawsuit also alleges that the wording could apply to all animals, including horses and hunting dogs.

"It's a desperate attempt to keep voters from voting yes," said Stratemann. "This is to end dog racing in Florida, this isn't to end any other equine sport."

If the Florida Greyhound Association loses its battle in the lawsuit to take the amendment off the ballot, voters will have the final say this November.

“This will give a chance for Florida voters to speak up for the dogs," said Stratemann.

“Do your own research, come out to the Kennel Club and see for yourself. Find out what goes on," said Trzeciak.