No on all of the other amendments | Editorial, Oct. 1
Amend Constitution to save greyhounds
For more than a century, the Humane Society of Tampa Bay has been dedicated to ending animal homelessness and providing care and comfort for companion animals in need. We're proud of this legacy and, as one of Florida's leading animal welfare organizations, are prepared to speak out on contentious issues that involve the well-being of animals. This is why we are helping lead the fight to pass Amendment 13, which will phase out greyhound racing.
Greyhounds are gentle dogs who deserve protection. Unfortunately, the racing industry treats them as commodities and puts profit ahead of animal welfare. No matter what you may hear from the other side about how much they love these dogs, actions speak louder than words; forcing dogs to live in a cage for 20 or more hours a day, and constantly exposing them to risk of injury and death is simply not acceptable. Since the state began tracking greyhound deaths in 2013, nearly 500 deaths have been reported. On average, a racing greyhound dies in Florida every three days. Greyhound racing proponents will stop at nothing to ensure their interests are protected. Perhaps the most outrageous scare tactic being circulated is the false claim that Amendment 13 will imperil dogs. In reality, the amendment is an opportunity to help thousands of greyhounds find loving homes. It includes a 26-month phase-out period, and there are hundreds of legitimate shelters and rescue groups across the country, including the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, who stand ready to take these dogs and find them loving homes.
We will not be deterred from speaking on behalf of animals, and neither should you. Animal welfare is a core value that binds us together as a compassionate community. Let's unite for these gentle dogs and vote yes on Amendment 13.
Sherry L. Silk
The writer is chief executive officer of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay.
Blindness Awareness Month
Help for visually impaired kids
October is Blindness Awareness Month, which this year came right after the Texas Board of Education's sad decision to remove Helen Keller from their school curriculum. I was born with a rare eye condition called Peters Anomaly, which causes low vision. As a kid who is legally blind, I have always admired Helen Keller for her courage and ability to break barriers. Even though she wasn't the first person to face discrimination because of a disability, she was a pioneer for blind and visually impaired people.
Like my idol, I have not let my visual impairment stop me. When I was 9 years old in 2015, I started a campaign called "Fund the Gap" after I learned that some blind and visually impaired kids between the ages of 6 and 13 don't receive state funding to help pay for expensive equipment and training. I went to the Capitol and asked the Florida Legislature to start a children's program for blind and visually impaired kids in my age group. I'm thankful that Gov. Rick Scott approved $1.25 million in state funding but more than $8 million is what we really need to help all Florida kids with visual impairments who don't have access to equipment or support like Braille lessons and help with daily living skills.
This Blindness Awareness Month, please think about how you can help make the world a more understanding place that includes and helps all kinds of people, especially kids. If enough of us speak up for good — to help "fund the gap" or learn about Helen Keller — we can break even more barriers.
Paloma Rambana, Tallahassee
The writer is a 13-year-old lobbyist, advocate and author.
NextGen America says it registered 50,000 Floridians to vote | TampaBay.com, Oct. 9
Vote to honor their sacrifice
Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. sacrificed his life, and other civil rights workers both black and white died as well struggling to achieve equal civil rights for all races, including the right to vote. Please do not let those sacrifices be wasted. Please vote.
Carol Marich, Zephyrhills