A group supporting the constitutional amendment to end greyhound racing in Florida wants greyhound dog racers to publicly reject a member of their group charged with 11 counts of animal cruelty.
The Yes on 13 campaign – the group that wants to ban dog racing – said Jesse James Hodges, accused of animal cruelty in Louisiana, had joined the official “No on 13” Facebook group, which required administrative approval to join.
Hodges was arrested and charged when 11 of his dogs showed “obvious signs of being neglected” with “ribs and backbones showing and skin clinging,” according to a police report. The dogs were kept on chains without adequate shelter, or in a cage built around a tree.
Dog racing ban advocates also said Hodges “appears to be linked to a website used by dog fighters,” and said the main photo on his Facebook page depicts two young puppies with a severed pig head.
The Yes on 13 campaign said Hodges posted a “message of solidarity” with the greyhound racing industry on Facebook where Hodges said he “come(s) as a friend” and asked for help fighting animal protection groups. A screenshot of the post shows one person calling Hodges a “hound brother.”
Jennifer Newcome, administrator of the No on 13 Facebook group and chairman of the Committee to Support Greyhounds (a group which supports greyhound racing), said Hodges has since been removed from the Facebook group.
“As soon as we realized he had had those charges pending, we immediately removed him from our group,” Newcome said. “We don’t support any kind of animal abuse whatsoever.”
Voters may still not get to decide whether to end Florida greyhound racing in November. A Tallahassee judge kicked the measure off the ballot in early August saying it misled voters and its intention was not clear. The decision was appealed, and legal arguments are set for Wednesday before the Florida Supreme Court.