On November 7, voters in Longwood, Florida will elect a new city Commission. It’s an important moment for this community, which must decide whether it wants a government that represents the people, or a government that is beholden to a single special interest.
Simply put, Sanford Orlando Kennel Club is trying to buy the Longwood City Commission. The greyhound industry is responsible for roughly 20% of the campaign contributions for two Commission candidates, Richard Drummond and Matt Morgan. The Kennel Club is displaying signs for both candidates, even though it claims to have not endorsed either. Most notably Drummond is an employee of the track, although this relationship is not mentioned on his official campaign website.
Track support for these two candidates is part of a larger dog track effort to capture and control the Longwood Commission. Sanford Orlando Kennel Club is also working to defeat sitting Commissioners John Maingot and Mark Weller, and prevent the election of candidate Mike Dodane. Maingot and Weller are distinguished public servants with a combined fifteen years of experience as Commissioners. Dodane is successful businessman who has lived in the community for decades, and is active with good groups like Habitat for Humanity and the Boy Scouts. He also happens to be a supporter of our work to pass animal welfare reforms for greyhounds and phase out commercial dog racing.
I’m certain the dog track wants to own the City Commission for a few specific reasons. First, it wants the Commission to give a green light to the expansion of poker gambling at the track, a push that has been previously rejected. It also wants to repeal a Seminole County greyhound protection ordinance that was approved last year. That important humane measure requires greyhound trainers to report greyhound injuries to the public, requires reporting on the fate of all dogs that leave the track, and eliminates a special interest loophole that exempted greyhound kennels from local licensing and inspection provisions. The greyhound industry fought this humane proposal tooth and nail, and has already filed a lawsuit in an attempt to invalidate it.
It’s easy to understand why the Kennel Club dislikes this greyhound protection ordinance. This is a low end track where dogs are sent when they are no longer able to compete elsewhere, and for years, greyhound injuries have been its dirty little secret. Since May, when injuries became public knowledge for the first time, 22 greyhound injuries have been reported at Sanford Orlando Kennel Club including 16 dogs that suffered broken bones and two dogs that died. For example, a two-year-old greyhound named BGR K Pickler died on May 17 after she was “bumped into the rail” and suffered a “large, deep laceration on the left hip/upper thigh.” Her thigh muscle was “completely severed” and she was euthanized.
These injuries aren’t the only animal welfare problems that have been documented at Sanford Orlando Kennel Club. According to state records, 38 greyhounds have died at the track over the past four years. Roughly 700 greyhounds endure lives of confinement at the track, kept in small cages barely large enough to stand up or turn around in for up to 23 hours each day.
There have also been five severe cases of animal neglect documented at the Kennel Club over the last decade. Dogs have been found in filthy conditions, multiple dogs have been forced to live in small cages, and injured dogs have been denied veterinary care. A greyhound at the track tested positive forcocaine after a race in 2015, and just months ago a trainer had his license revoked for greyhound drug violations.
In a few weeks voters will have a simple choice. Do they want a Longwood City Commission that works for the community, or a Longwood City Commission that does the bidding of a dog track that is cruel and inhumane?
About GREY2K USA
Formed in February of 2001, GREY2K USA is the largest greyhound protection organization in the United States with more than 150,000 supporters. As a non-profit 501(c)4 organization, the group works to pass stronger greyhound protection laws and end the cruelty of dog racing on both national and international levels. GREY2K USA also promotes the rescue and adoption of greyhounds across the globe. For more information, go towww.GREY2KUSA.org or visit GREY2K USA on Facebook or Twitter.
Carey M. Theil