Florida dog track operators are now required to report dog deaths to state officials within 18 hours, and the numbers are staggering.
Between May 31 and Dec. 31, 2013, 74 dogs died on race track property, according to a death reports review by the Herald-Times.
A 3-year-old fawn greyhound named Penrose Jake died in the middle of a race last August. It was his eighth race of the day, according to his death report. He had run 127 races total, 42 of them in his final year.
A law passed in 2010, that didn’t take effect until last spring, makes reporting dogtrack deaths mandatory.
The state says it will take appropriate action if necessary. The Department of Business and Professional Regulation is not currenly prepared to take action against perceived abuses.
“The department has gone over and above what is expected to try to communicate with the licensees,” said DBPR spokeswoman Tajiana Ancora-Brown. “After we feel we have exhausted those efforts, there will be action taken to comply with the rule.”
Florida is still the only state that doesn’t require dog tracks to report injuries.
GREY2K, the world’s largest greyhound protection organization, says reporting injures is key to cutting down on preventable harm and euthanasia.
“In the states where we have passed greyhound injury reporting laws, the number of dogs euthanized has declined significantly,” said GREY2K Carey Theil, executive director of GREY2K. “In Massachusetts the number of greyhounds that were killed dropped by 43 percent in the first year after passage of an injury reporting law.”
The Florida Greyhound Association is against reducing the number of races, citing a $50 million loss to the state’s economy.
Ann Church, vice president for state affairs for the ASPCA, says the group is working to end all greyhound racing in the U.S. She said it’s ridiculous to cite racing’s boost to the economy.
“It’s outrageous that it has taken this long to get to this point,” Church said. “The difference between now and 10 years ago is [that] the profit has gone out of it and racetracks now see no benefit to run the races so they want out of it as well.”
Theil says the association has long been against detailed reporting of the health of race dogs.
“They do not want the public to have information about the way their industry operates because at some level, they understand if the public has information there will be a lot of public opposition to them,” Theil said. “The industry is very powerful.”