ACTION ALERT

The Florida Constitutional Revision Commission (CRC) is considering Prop. 67 – an amendment to the Florida Constitution that would phase out greyhound racing in our state by December 31, 2019Prop. 67 will be discussed and debated by the CRC Executive Committee this month. It is critical that members of the committee hear from you.
Please tell them you SUPPORT Prop. 67 to phase out greyhound racing!

What You Can Do
Time is of the essence: Please call or email the members of the Executive Committee of the Florida Constitutional Revision Commission TODAY and urge them to Vote YES on Prop 67 to phase out greyhound racing in Florida.

Executive Committee Members

CHAIR Commissioner Darlene Jordan, Darlene.Jordan@flcrc.gov 
Phone: (561) 331-1701
VICE CHAIR: Commissioner Chris Sprowls, Chris.Sprowls@flcrc.gov
Phone: (727) 793-2810
Commissioner Pam Bondi, Pam.Bondi@flcrc.gov
Phone: (850) 414-3990
Commissioner Jose Felix  Diaz, Jose.Diaz@flcrc.gov
Commissioner Don Gaetz, Don.Gaetz@flcrc.gov
Commissioner Belinda Keiser, Belinda.Keiser@flcrc.gov 
Phone: (954) 609-5265
Commissioner Chris Nocco, Chris.Nocco@flcrc.gov 
Phone: (727) 847-5878
Commissioner Pam Stewart, Pam.Stewart@flcrc.gov
Phone: (850) 245-0505
Commissioner Jacqui Thurlow-Lippisch, Jacqui.Lippisch@flcrc.gov
Phone: (772) 218-0842
 

Here is a sample email message:

Dear Commissioner:

As a Florida resident, I urge you to vote “YES” on Prop 67 General Provisions. Prop 67 would phase out greyhound racing in Florida by December 31, 2019.   Greyhound racing is illegal in 40 states.  Florida is home to 12 of the 18 tracks still operating in the United States.  Approximately 8,000 greyhounds endure lives of confinement at Florida tracks.  For 20 to 23 hours a day, these dogs are kept in cages barely large enough for them to stand up or turn around.  On average, a greyhound dies at a Florida racetrack every three days. Greyhound racing is a dying industry. Since 1990, the amount wagered n greyhound racing has declined 74% and tax revenue from greyhound racing has dropped by 98%.  In fact, according to a study commissioned by the Florida legislature, the state is losing between $1 million and $3.3 million annually because regulatory costs exceed revenues collected by the state.  Please vote “YES” on Prop. 67 to phase out greyhound racing.


IT'S NOW OR NEVER! Your voice is needed to stop Florida dog racing

There was a major advance for the greyhounds when the Executive Committee of the Constitutional Revision Commission voted for a proposal to end dog racing! As a result, we are closer than ever to ending dog racing in Florida. However, we will not be done until the full Commission approves the measure.

In the next phase, the full Constitution Revision Commission (CRC) will hold five public hearings around the state. At these hearings, they will take public testimony on all pending proposals, including Proposal 67 to phase out greyhound racing.

Greyhound breeders are already organizing for these hearings, and plan to have many speakers defend the cruelty of dog racing. We can’t let them get away with this. It’s absolutely crucial that you attend one of these public hearings, and ask Commissioners to Vote Yes on Proposal 67! Please also ask a friend to join you. The Greyhounds need as many voices as possible. It’s now or never!

To speak, you simply need to show up and fill out an appearance form. When you are called, you will be given a few moments to tell Commissioners why they should support Proposal 67. If you have a rescued greyhound, be sure to tell them about your four-legged friend and bring a photo if you have one! (Please don’t bring your greyhound to the hearing). Also, in talking to Commissioners, you can use our Proposal 67 Fact Sheet as a guide.

TuesdayFebruary 27 in Pensacola
1:00-7:00 PM ET
University of West Florida
Conference Center & Ballroom
11000 University Parkway, Building 22
Pensacola, FL 32514
TuesdayMarch 13 in St. Petersburg
1:00-7:00 PM ET
University of South Florida – St. Petersburg
University Student Center
200 6th Ave S
St. Petersburg, FL 33701

Once these hearings are complete, the CRC will take final action on Proposal 67. If we succeed, voters will then decide the fate of greyhound racing this November. Please be sure to attend the public hearing closest to you, and help us give the Greyhounds a voice. Together, we can end this cruelty for good.


SUPPORT HB 473 (Leek & Brodeur)/SB 952 (Steube): Ponce’s Law

THE ISSUE
HB 473/SB 952 “Ponce’s Law” is named for a dog named Ponce, who, according to media reports, was beaten to death in Ponce Inlet, Florida in 2017.[1] The incident resulted in strong public sentiment that Florida’s animal cruelty law should be strengthened to ensure that such cases are taken seriously.

Experts agree that proper intervention in animal cruelty cases can protect both people and animals. According to the National District Attorneys Association: “The Link between violence to people and violence to animals is well documented by research, both nationally and internationally. In its simplest form: violence to animals is a predictor that the abuser may become violent to people….”[2]  Clarifying a judge’s ability prohibit animal cruelty offenders from having contact with animals can have a significant impact on protecting animals and people in our communities.

EXISTING LAW
F.S.S. 828.12 (2)(a) prohibits aggravated animal cruelty: “A person who intentionally commits an act to any animal, or a person who owns or has the custody or control of any animal and fails to act, which results in the cruel death, or excessive or repeated infliction of unnecessary pain or suffering, or causes the same to be done, commits aggravated animal cruelty, a felony of the third degree.” Currently, aggravated animal cruelty is classified under the state’s sentencing guidelines (F.S.S. 921.0022) as a level 3 violation (16 points).

F.S.S. 828.073 Animals Found in Distress allows a court to enjoin the custody or possession of an animal if a court determines that an owner is unable to properly care for the animal.

THE PROPOSAL
Ponce’s Law clarifies that judges may prohibit those convicted of animal cruelty from having contact with animals as a sentencing condition: “In addition to other penalties prescribed by law, the court may issue an order prohibiting a person who is convicted of a violation of this section from owning, possessing, keeping, harboring, having any contact, or having custody or control over any animal for a period of time determined by the court.”

HB 473/SB 952 also reclassifies the sentencing level for violations of aggravated animal cruelty in the Criminal Punishment Code from a level 3 to a level 5 violation, which provides more appropriate judicial discretion in sentencing those who commit this serious crime.

SUPPORT
ASPCA (American Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals)
Florida Assn. of Animal Welfare Organizations
Humane Society of the United States
The Animal Law Section of The Florida Bar
Florida Prosecuting Attorneys Association
Florida Sheriffs Association
Florida Police Association
Smart Justice Alliance
Miami-Dade County
Volusia County

An October 2017 Poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling & Strategies found that 84% of registered Florida voters support clarifying that judges can require someone convicted of animal cruelty to have no contact with animals during their probation.

OPPOSITION
No known opposition.
[1]  https://www.clickorlando.com/news/ponce-inlet-man-arrested-after-beating-puppy-to-death-police-say
[2] http://www.ndaa.org/pdf/The%20Link%20Monograph-2014.pdf

Jen Hobgood, Ph.D.
Director, State Legislation, Southeast Region jen.hobgood@aspca.org
850.445.5245


SUPPORT HB 823 (Cruz, Gruters) / SB 1576 (Steube): Lost or Stray Dogs or Cats

THE ISSUE
In 2017, Hurricane Irma resulted in hundreds of lost or stray dogs and cats across Florida, putting an added strain on already beleaguered Florida families and overburdened animal shelters in the storm’s aftermath.[1]

In recent years, several owned family pets have been euthanized accidentally in Florida shelters, including a 17-year-old beloved Labrador retriever in Manatee County[2] and a case in Escambia County that resulted in a lawsuit against the county.[3]

Many animal shelters in Florida already utilize the reasonable policies and procedures outlined in HB 823 /SB 1576. However, like hurricanes and wildfires, lost pets don’t recognize county lines on a map. Providing minimum statutory safeguards for owners of lost pets is necessary to elevate and standardize these practices across our state and to ensure that pet owners are afforded the opportunity to quickly and reliably claim their lost pets.

EXISTING LAW
Local ordinances often set minimum stray hold periods deemed appropriate to the community, but Florida currently has no statewide requirements for animal shelters or humane organizations with respect to owned lost or stray dogs or cats.

THE PROPOSAL
HB 823/SB 1576 will help animal shelters of all sizes reunite lost pets with their owners by requiring that shelters and humane organizations that accept lost or stray dogs and cats develop reasonable policies and procedures to quickly and reliably return lost pets to their families.

The reasonable policy and procedure criteria outlined in HB 823/SB 1576 include the following:

  • screening for identification, such as tags and microchips, upon intake;
  • a process for matching pets coming into the shelter with reports of lost pets made to the shelter by owners;
  • public notice of stray dogs and cats received by the shelter, provided at the shelter or on the Internet;
  • reasonable efforts to notify identified pet owners;
  • public notice of shelter hours, location, and return-to-owner process;
  • access for owners to claim lost pets outside of normal business hours (no increase in total operating hours required);
  • direct return-to-owner protocol for returning lost dogs or cats to owners when owners have been identified by an officer in the field;
  • temporary extension of local stray hold periods when an emergency is declared, if deemed appropriate by local government.

Each policy and procedural safeguard in HB 823/SB 1576 provides broad discretion and flexibility for both larger and smaller governmental and non-profit shelters to implement community-appropriate, reasonable minimum standards for returning lost pets to their owners.

SUPPORT
ASPCA (American Association for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, Sponsor)
Florida Assn. of Animal Welfare Organizations
The Animal Law Section of The Florida Bar
The Humane Society of the United States
Miami-Dade County

An October 2017 poll by Mason-Dixon Polling and Strategies found that 77% of registered Florida voters support requiring shelters that accept lost or stray dogs and cats to develop reasonable policies and procedures to ensure that lost pets are quickly and reliably returned to their families.

[1] Ryan, Patti. Sept. 15, 2017. “As Irma Howled, Hundreds of Tampa Bay Area Cats and Dogs Got Lost.”  Tampa Bay Times. Accessed online 13 December 2017 at http://www.tampabay.com/news/humaninterest/as-irma-howled-hundreds-of-tampa-bay-area-cats-and-dogs-got-lost/2337541 .
Garcia-Navarro. Sept. 12, 2017   “Miami Animal Shelter Swells with Lost Pets in Wake of Hurricane Irma.” National Public Radio. “All Things Considered. Accessed online 13 December 2017 at: http://www.npr.org/2017/09/12/550492776/miami-animal-shelter-swells-with-lost-pets-in-wake-of-hurricane-irma Cohen, Howard. Sept. 13, 2017. “Pets Displaced by Irma need a place to stay. So 100 other dogs and cats hit the road.” Miami Herald. Accessed online 13 December at http://www.miamiherald.com/news/weather/hurricane/article173102131.html . Weather.com. Sept. 9 2017   “Helping Lost Pets from Irma Find Their Way Back Home.” weather.com. Accessed online 13 Dec. 2017 at: https://weather.com/storms/hurricane/news/irma-lost-pets/2017 Alvarez, Johanna A. Sept. 19 2017. “If you lost your pet during Hurricane I rma, here’s what you should do.” Miami Herald.  Accessed online 13 December 2017 at: http://www.miamiherald.com/news/weather/hurricane/article174186976.htmlAnderson, Jasmine. Sept. 15, 2017. “South Florida family looking for dog they lost while fleeing Irma.” ABC3 WEAR TV Pensacola. Accessed online 13 Dec.2017 at http://weartv.com/news/local/south-florida-family-looking-for-dog-they-lost-while-fleeing-irma .

[2] Aronson, Claire. “His lost best friend was found and taken to animal shelter—and killed the same day” Bradenton Herald. Accessed online 13 December 2017 at http://www.bradenton.com/news/local/article124559479.html Story reprinted in the Miami-Herald and retold in the Washington Post at https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/animalia/wp/2017/01/23/whats-a-no-kill-animal-shelter-the-answer-is-more-complicated-than-it-seems/?utm_term=.8e2a9b2d71c7.
Thompson, Rhema. Sept. 4, 2013. “Pet mistakenly euthanized at Florida animal shelter.” USA Today. Accessed online 13 Dec. 2017 https://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/09/04/pet-killed-animal-shelter/2761701/

[3] Robinson, Kevin. Aug. 17, 2015. “Woman Sues Escambia over Mistakenly Euthanized Dog.” Pensacola News Journal. Accessed online 13 December 2017 at http://www.pnj.com/story/news/local/escambia-county/2015/08/17/woman-sues-escambia-mistakenly-euthanized-dog/31868803/ .

Jen Hobgood, Ph.D.
Director, State Legislation, Southeast Region jen.hobgood@aspca.org
850.445.5245