This OpEd was submitted to Florida News Online on October 4. As it’s unlikely to be published in their forum, I am publishing it here in the hope of reaching voters. -Camille
This opinion is in response to former Lieutenant Governor Jeff Kottcamp’s opinion entitled “Voters Beware! Extreme Animal Rights Groups are Behind Amendment 13,” published in your paper on October 1. This article was a blatant attempt to confuse readers and encourage them to vote contrary to their conscience. If one supports animal cruelty, then they will want to follow Mr. Kottcamp’s advice and vote No on Amendment 13. However, if voters want to protect greyhounds and reject animal cruelty, then they must vote Yes.
In his article, Jeff Kottcamp failed to disclose that he is the attorney of record for the Florida Greyhound Association – the industry profiting from racing greyhounds – and that, in and of itself, should give any dog lover pause. Rather than discuss his own financial interest in this arena, the industry’s attorney chooses to focus on the fact that the Humane Society of the United States supports Amendment 13. He continues to label the animal welfare organization as an “extremist” animal rights group in very much the same way that one would have been labeled a “communist” in the McCarthy era. This is a propaganda tool that is effectively used to frighten the America public.
In the interest of full disclosure, I’m an animal rights activist and author. I have frequently been labeled an extremist because of my passionate protection of animals so I understand the reasons for gratuitously tossing this label around in media. I have no association with greyhound racing, however, other than having seen the heartbreaking stories of the lucky few dogs rescued after they cease being profitable running machines.
In conjunction with the Florida Greyhound Association and its lawyers, a front group calling themselves Support Greyhounds has emerged to confuse animal lovers with the same arguments advanced by Mr. Kottcamp. The industry claims that rescue groups oppose Amendment 13 because it makes no provisions for the dogs that would be retired from racing through 2020. Rescue groups exist to rescue animals from neglect, abuse, and danger. If Greyhound Racing did not create a continuous flow of dogs in desperate need of being rescued, these groups would not exist. It defies logic to suggest that someone devoted to giving these dogs a second chance would want their exploitation to continue. Every rescue worker with whom I am associated adamantly supports Amendment 13.
One only needs to Google “greyhound racing dogs in Florida” and add the words “abuse” or “starvation” or “injuries” or “heart attacks” or “death” to see a far more comprehensive list of the atrocities which Amendment 13 seeks to end than I could ever enumerate here. Don’t be confused by industry propaganda. Please vote with your conscience and stand up for the dogs that need your voice.
On November 6, vote Yes on Amendment 13.
Camille A. Marino
Activist & Author, #uncensored: inside the animal liberation movement