Animal activists aim to rally support for proposed greyhound racing ban

Grass-roots meeting held at First Coast No More Homeless Pets in Jacksonville

By Colette DuChanois - Web producer, Jud Hulon

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. - Animal activists are trying to raise support for a proposed constitutional amendment that would phase out greyhound racing in Florida by 2020.

One of 13 grass-roots meetings was held Monday night at First Coast No More Homeless Pets in Jacksonville to encourage people to vote yes on Amendment 13, which will appear on the November ballot. The measure would need approval from 60 percent of voters to pass. 

Of the 18 greyhound tracks in the nation, 12 are in Florida, including bestbet Orange Park. If the amendment is passed, greyhound parks would have 26 months to close.

The measure would allow people to continue to bet at pari-mutuel facilities on greyhound races simulcast from other states.

According to the "Protect Dogs - Yes on 13" campaign, which was started by humane groups, a racing greyhound dies in the state of Florida every three days. 

"I've seen it firsthand -- the cruelty," animal rights supporter Sonia Stratemann said. "I've seen the broken legs, the confinement, the way they are treated."

The grass-roots meeting in Jacksonville was one of 13 held across the state by the campaign. 

Supporters of greyhound racing argue the dogs are well taken care of and retire to loving homes when their racing careers are over.

Greyhound racing has been in Florida since 1931.

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