Tuesday, September 15, 2015

Vet Missing in Action When Greyhounds Suffer Injuries

Hamici was allegedly absent for Atascocita Tofu's injury
Under Florida state rules, greyhound tracks are required to hire a veterinarian who must "observe the condition of all racing animals immediately prior to, during, and after a race." This provision is intended to ensure the health and welfare of all racing dogs. Of course rules are only as good as their enforcement.

Consider the case of Dr. Hakim Hamici, the primary track veterinarian at Naples Fort Myers Greyhound Track. Since 2013, Dr. Hamici has apparently been absent on at least five occasions when a serious greyhound injury occurred:

  • On February 22, 2015, Hamici was absent when a dog named B.L. Rumble collapsed and died after a schooling race. A trainer tried to call Hamici on his cell phone after the dog collapsed, but the call "went directly to voice mail."
  • On December 12, 2013, Hamici was absent when a greyhound named Koothrappali was "badly injured" during a race and had to be carried off the track.

These repeated regulatory failures call the current greyhound vet law into question. Rather than require tracks to employ private veterinarians, other states like Iowa provide state vets who are present during every race. Mandating tracks to hire private vets creates an obvious conflict of interest. It's also a burden on private businesses that are already being forced to conduct races they are losing money on.

Add this to the long list of reforms that Florida should pass to help greyhounds. The dogs need independent regulation from state veterinarians. In the meantime, any vets who fail in their oversight responsibilities should be severely penalized.