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Judge Throws Dog Racing Ban Off November Ballot, Calling It “Outright Trickeration”

| August 2, 2018

dog racing ban

Dog days, unabated. (NSF)

A circuit judge on Wednesday knocked a greyhound-racing ban off the November ballot, calling the proposed constitutional amendment misleading and “outright trickeration.”

“Contrary to the words presented for consideration by the voters, the amendment would not end dog racing, nor would it eliminate wagering on dog racing,” Leon County Circuit Judge Karen Gievers wrote in her order.

“In short, proposed Amendment 13 is misleading and inaccurate and incomplete, while adding up to a ‘hide the ball,’ ‘fly a false flag’ and outright ‘trickeration,’ ” she wrote.

Supporters of the proposed constitutional amendment quickly said they will appeal the ruling.

The amendment was one of eight ballot measures placed on the Nov. 6 general-election ballot by the state Constitution Revision Commission, which meets every 20 years and has the unique authority to present proposed constitutional changes directly to voters.

The proposal sought to ban commercial greyhound racing in the state after Dec. 31, 2020. It was sponsored by Sen. Tom Lee, R-Thonotosassa, a member of the constitutional panel.

But Gievers said the ballot title and summary for the amendment were “clearly and conclusively defective.”

Gievers said the ballot information failed to inform voters that the actual amendment language would establish the “humane treatment of animals” as a “fundamental value” in the Constitution. She also said the language failed to describe the amendment’s impact on existing constitutional provisions that allowed slot machines at dog tracks in Broward and Miami-Dade counties contingent on live racing at the facilities.

“If the CRC (Constitution Revision Commission) wanted Florida voters to be able to rethink the relationship between live animal racing and the operation of slot machines, or to be able to adopt as a constitutional fundamental value the humane treatment of animals, the CRC could have included the appropriate language in the ballot and summary,” the judge wrote.

Gievers’ order also supported an argument raised by the Florida Greyhound Association, a group that represents dog owners, breeders and trainers, that the amendment would not actually ban dog-race wagering since it would allow betting at Florida tracks on races broadcast from outside the state.

Supporters of Amendment 13 quickly organized a conference call with reporters, saying they intend to appeal Gievers’ ruling and that they might try to get an expedited hearing from the Florida Supreme Court.

“We want the people to finally make a judgment on this cruel activity, and that’s why we are confident that this misguided judgment will not stand,” Christine Dorchak, president and general counsel of Grey2K USA, said.

Dorchak called the judge’s ruling “defective.”

Gievers’ finding that the amendment does not inform voters that dog racing would continue outside of Florida is “completely nonsensical,” Dorchak said.

“Clearly voters of Florida can only vote on what happens in their own state,” she said.

She also rejected the judge’s contention that the ballot title and summary “hides the ball” regarding the full language of the proposal.

Supporters of the amendment also pointed out that Gievers’ rulings in other high-profile cases have frequently been overturned.

“I don’t think anyone’s here to throw stones, but this is really a nearly 30-page diatribe. It’s not the kind of ruling we would expect to see from a court in Florida,” Dorchak said.

Dorchak also said the language put on the ballot by the Constitution Revision Commission “was written to be clear and neutral.”

“The judge is saying that’s not good enough, we had to add more language that I think probably would confuse voters,” she said.

Wednesday’s legal blow came on the heels of an announcement last week that the Doris Day Animal League was donating $1.5 million to the campaign to end dog racing in Florida.

“We’re confident we will succeed in November and get this passed for the dogs,” said Kate MacFall, co-chairwoman of the Committee to Protect Dogs, a group backing Amendment 13.

The proposed dog-racing ban was one of 13 state constitutional amendments on the Nov. 6 ballot. Eight of the amendments were advanced by the Constitution Revision Commission, with four of those measures, including the racing ban, being contested in court.

To be enacted, each amendment must win support from at least 60 percent of the voters.

–Dara Kam and Lloyd Dunkleberger, News Service of Florida

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16 Responses for “Judge Throws Dog Racing Ban Off November Ballot, Calling It “Outright Trickeration””

  1. David T Schaefer says:

    I am 100% in favor of banning this cruel activity in this state. Maybe this bill needs some tweaking ……

  2. Anonymous says:

    Good! It should have been thrown out, people need to mind their own business.

  3. Arlene says:

    So, the Judge does not like the language that is in the Amendment. Not appropriate, so she says. So let’s change the language, and get it back for voting in November,and stop dog racing in Florida once and for all. Period. For the sake of the dogs. Isn’t that the bottom line?

  4. Dave says:

    Stop using animals for your own entertainment, Stop using animals to do jobs you cant. These are living things ,not put here to do what you please. No racing greyhounds, No Police dogs.

  5. Born and Raised Here says:

    There is nothing wrong with this sport. This type of dog is breeded for speed and racing, just like certain horses, and falcons. Damn, stop tryin’ to make a mountain out of a mole hill.

  6. JustMe says:

    Racing this dogs is total cruelty, even though it is off the ballot in November it will be back on another ballot, and that time it will be banned in the State of Florida, as the saying goes it isn’t over until the fat lady sings.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I enjoy the dog races . I’m happy about this…. I enjoy seeing the animals at the zoo…… should we also close all of those ?

  8. palmcoaster says:

    This amendment is to stop the cruelty to Greyhounds for racing entertainment!!So lets approve it and pass it!

  9. Uh huh says:

    Okay judge and how much do you or your significant other drop down on dog racing? I buy her “language” rebuke only “thismuch.”

  10. Born and Raised Here says:

    Maybe we should ban the lottery, how many people play this game and can’t honestly afford it ? I would never play a game unless I have some kind of control of it. So many people play the lottery and take food off the table for there family, or think it’s gong to assure there retirement.

  11. Anonymous says:

    Palmcoaster do you eat any kind of animal meat? If you do that seems to me to be much more cruel than dog racing. An animal must die to provide meat for you to eat. We had better ban all animal products as well. Geez, gimme a break.

  12. SurferBoy says:

    This sport should be banned immediately!!! Cruelty to this poor dogs the way they’re treated.

  13. Keep Flagler Beautiful says:

    To “Born and Raised”: I guess you don’t know about the way unwanted greyhound puppies are thrown into mass graves and buried alive. A greyhound breeder who had a change of heart confessed that to me. Or are you aware that racing dogs are pumped full of steroids, raced until their hearts nearly burst, then when they’re no longer winners, they’re dumped on rescues. In the meantime, they live a lonely existence in cages until they’re let out to run in races. My friend adopted two discarded greyhounds who ended up being the sweetest companions ever, but both died of stomach cancer. I don’t think it was a coincidence. They spent a lifetime being fed cheap dog food and being shot up with steroids. Greyhound racing is animal abuse. It should be banned. Period.

  14. Trailer Bob says:

    OK, I get the arguments for dog racing, and some of the analogies…most of which are apples to oranges though. But being a dog lover, I highly doubt these race dogs are having a happy life. Mostly caged, running almost to death, and all so people can bet on them? One person here added police dogs to the list, which is ignorant, as I have known many police and their dogs and they all had wonderful lives. They live at home with the officers families, are taken care of better than most pets, and love what they do. The only difference between my babied German Shepherd Dogs is that they don’t work for the police. I have been to multiple funerals for police dogs and all the owners cried like babies at them. German Shepherd Dogs need to have a job and need to be disciplined. At around 325 lbs per square inch of jaw pressure they need to be.

  15. Dave says:

    Anonymous I agree, we should shut down the zoos also. A zoo is no place to cage and keep these animals just for our own pleasure, and also yes about the animal meat! There is no reason we as human should be eating other living animals

  16. Frankie Colombo says:

    PLEASE everyone support

    It’s the ONLY way to truly get justice!

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