Christie: Florida ban on greyhound racing could finally be going to the dogs

Florida voters look ready to ban greyhound racing by a supermajority vote, according to a new survey that shows the issue fares better at the polls if people identify the proposal with animal welfare instead of gambling. (Photo by David Spencer/The Palm Beach Post)

UPDATE: The Florida Constitution Revision Commission on Tuesday night gave preliminary approval to Proposal 67, which would phase out commercial greyhound racing in the state by 2020. The proposal will now go to the Style and Drafting Committee before returning to the full CRC for a final vote. If approved, it will appear on the November ballot.

Would Florida voters ban greyhound racing if a proposed constitutional amendment appeared on the November ballot?

According to a new survey released by animal rights group GREY2K USA, the answer is a solid “maybe” … that is, if the question focuses on animal welfare instead of anti-gambling.

RELATED: Poll: Florida voters favor Greyhound racing ban

The poll, which was shared and reported on by POLITICO Florida on Tuesday, showed a sampling of likely voters supported the measure, 65–27 percent. But POLITICO also reported that overall opposition remained flat. Support appeared to increase to about 70 percent after respondents were asked three questions in support and three questions in opposition to the proposed amendment.

The amendment, along with many others, is under consideration this week by the Florida Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) to decide which proposals will go before voters this fall.

Of course, supporters of ending Florida’s controversial tradition of tying gambling (pari-mutuel wagering) to greyhound racing are heartened by the poll results. At the same, opponents — such as our own Palm Beach Kennel Club — are somewhat dismissive.

The two sides have been warring over the issue for years, as wagering on greyhound racing has been declining. But supporters of a ban have been out-maneuvered largely by the fact that 12 tracks still operating in the state are concerned about being shut out of other, more profitable forms of gambling — like card games and slots — if they lose the dogs.

RELATED: Editorial: Require injury reports for racing greyhounds

Efforts at “decoupling” the two issues, championed by lawmakers from Okaloosa to Palm Beach counties over the years have died during the legislative session as Florida struggles with its “gambling-versus-family” image.

But animal rights groups may have finally found a way to tip the scales in their favor. Everyday folks really do care passionately about dogs.

“Floridians are deeply concerned about the humane issues including confinement, greyhound deaths and injuries,” said Carey M. Theil, executive director of GREY2K USA, told POLITICO Florida. “By contrast, roughly two-thirds of Florida voters are not moved at all by opposition arguments, including job claims. We gain support when it’s clear this is an animal welfare issue.”

Although commercial greyhound racing is banned in 40 states, Florida has been a particularly tough nut to crack with a majority of the nation’s 18 operational tracks located in the Sunshine State.

If the poll numbers hold up, the amendment would easily clear the 60 percent voter-approval threshold to become law in Florida.

Patrons at the Paddock Dining Room at the Palm Beach Kennel Club. (Photo by David Spencer/The Palm Beach Post)

That’s not likely to happen without a fight as breeders and kennel operators like Palm Beach Kennel Club, who insist that they take good care of their animals, call the proposed amendment a job-killer and “a backdoor way of expanding gambling” in the state.

The CRC, to avoid voters getting “ballot fatigue” from considering too many amendments, is also looking at combining disparate proposals on the ballot. This could be a good or bad thing depending on what the greyhound racing ban is coupled with, i.e. oil drilling, school board term limits or nursing homes.

Regardless, it’s looking as though voters will get a chance to vote on it. Take our poll here and tell us how you would vote:

Letter: Get some perspective on real dog lovers

 

dogHere’s a reply to “Dogs are nuisance in many public spaces,” May 29: Sure they are, but with all the animal mistreatment and abuse, maybe we can understand a little of the problem.

Some people have only a dog or cat as their companion, and they really love these animals. Instead of writing a letter, may I suggest you read “So God Made a Dog.” It’s not really religious, just explains how we dog lovers feel. It might make you smile.

I do agree that you also have rights as a non-pet owner, and those rights should be respected by pet owners. People should control their animals and pick up after them, and not bring them into places where they don’t belong.

PATRICIA GUSTAINUS, BOCA RATON

>>READ MORE: Readers React: Do dogs have a place in our restaurants and stores?

Readers React: Do dogs have a place in our restaurants and stores?

dogs-1160399_960_720Over the holiday weekend, I strolled into a moderate to high-end women’s clothing store wondering if there were any Memorial Day deals to be had in this store I could normally never afford. Browsing through the racks, there was a woman ahead of me pushing a large covered baby carriage decorated with pink flowers, with cubby space to hold her Starbucks coffee (who drinks coffee when it was that hot outside?!) and under storage for her purse and bags filled with shopping treasures.

The baby was whimpering a little. Was it about to cry, let out a shrill scream that would cause other shoppers to recoil just a little? Maybe it was playing with a toy that was causing it to “ooh” and “ahh.” As I made my way passed the woman and her baby in the expensive carriage, I realized it wasn’t a baby at all.

It was a Cocker Spaniel. A Cocker Spaniel wearing a flower collar and a red, white and blue ribbon on her head. A Cocker Spaniel was what I heard whimpering.

I shouldn’t have seen a baby carriage and assumed there was a baby inside. My bad.

I stopped at Publix recently and as I was searching the aisles, a woman passed me with a beautiful white Maltese sitting in the front part of her cart.

A Maltese in the meat section of Publix.

It was the clearly the Dog Days of Summer.

Still not the weirdest thing I’ve seen since moving to Florida, where bringing your dog with you everywhere seems perfectly normal. I was in a local mall recently where a couple was shopping with their capuchin service monkey (the kind like Marcel on ‘Friends’ or the ‘Outbreak’ monkey, which might have actually been the same monkey). I’ve never encountered a service monkey before so I stopped to talk with the couple to learn about the work the monkey does. They explained they were socially training the monkey and she would eventually go to help someone with limited mobility with every day tasks like drinking water, turning on lights, picking up objects, etc.F9EE86CF-DE99-407E-B0E9-8FC7082840AC75521984-6905-42A7-A1C4-8F2A69DEAD80

But back to the dogs.

Palm Beach Post reader Jack Bennett of Boynton Beach said he’s had enough with people bringing their dogs in public.

“It seems that you can’t go anywhere without having to be confronted with somebody’s ‘baby,’ i.e., their dog. I can’t tell you how many times I go to restaurants and bars where I have to put up with some dog sniffing me, licking me, begging or just plain invading my space,” Bennett wrote.

The social media response was strongly divided.

But it was Bill Brown Meyers who probably had the right assessment of the situation:

So what do you think? Do you take Fido with you everywhere, or leave him at home? Take the poll and join the conversation in the comments below or here on Facebook:

Letter: Why do the rest of us have to deal with your dog?

Via Dogster
Via Dogster

When did the dog become our new king? It seems that you can’t go anywhere without having to be confronted with somebody’s “baby,” i.e., their dog. I can’t tell you how many times I go to restaurants and bars where I have to put up with some dog sniffing me, licking me, begging or just plain invading my space.

And amazingly, most owners don’t see that Fido is being a nuisance. They just smile and beam at how their dog is just so friendly. But just because you think your animal is some kind of wonder pet doesn’t mean it’s true. Most dogs are just plain, well, stupid. They don’t care about you; they just want to be a dog.

And I’m not talking about legitimate service dogs. They really do earn their pay. But even that’s becoming a joke. How many times have you seen somebody with a “service dog” that is clearly only there as a prop and not for any real service? It’s not just restaurants, either. Now it’s grocery stores, the mall, the green market, etc.

No place is “sacred” anymore.

Whenever I see places that allow dogs, I steer clear. I don’t go out to be annoyed, and there are still places where you can dine and not be mauled by “man’s best friend.” But who knows how long that will last? And now, the dog lovers are after the beaches. I’m sure it’s only a matter of time before they go to the dogs, too.

Please save us from the dogs, but mostly, save us from their owners. If your dog is so important to you, great. Stay home and chase cars together.

JACK BENNETT, BOYNTON BEACH

Letters Debate: Allow dogs on Delray Beach?

dog-787067_960_720A little bit of Delray Beach died on May 10, when city commissioners voted 3-2 against the Friends of Delray Dog Beach’s request for a dog-beach trial. It would have allowed residents to bring their dogs to a limited section of beach a few days a week for a few hours. Just as other South Florida communities have allowed for years.

Hewing to pressure from the powerful Beach Property Owners Association, the commissioners denied the recommendation that their own city staff made in January.

It’s ironic, since the condo dwellers of the BPOA in attendance complained that too many of their members were gone for the summer and couldn’t be at the meeting. Really? Snowbirds who are gone seven or more months of the year — and would be the least likely to be affected by the trial — prevailed over the full-time resident, dog-owning public.

HARVEY STARIN, DELRAY BEACH

 

 

“We’re lucky to be alive” — that’s what Brian Ganey said after a police officer was forced to shoot a dog after trying pepper spray and a stun gun to protect Ganey and himself at a Starbucks on Atlantic Avenue in Delray Beach in 2007.

Dogs, unlike infants, who are not always obedient, either, in certain situations do attack human beings and have the ability to inflict serious injury.

Atlantic Dunes Park, the proposed site for a dog beach, is packed with sunbathers, and its two blocks of public parking would act like a magnet — attracting hundreds of dog owners from surrounding areas. It also would require dawn-to-dusk, seven-day police and code-enforcement staffing, even to attempt to safely provide a dog beach.

Dog use, for many other reasons, too, is not an appropriate use for Delray Beach’s award-winning, human-populated beaches.

JIM SMITH, DELRAY BEACH