Florida has banned greyhound racing, lending a massive victory to animal rights activists nationwide. Now thousands of greyhounds are in need of homes.
Amendment 13, which voters approved by an overwhelming 69 percent, will close Florida’s 11 greyhound racetracks by January 2021.
The amendment was spearheaded by the Committee to Protect Dogs through the “Yes on 13” campaign. Members of the committee include the Humane Society of the United States, GREY2K USA and the Doris Day Animal League. Following the vote, the coalition released a public statement featured in The Miami Herald.
“Tonight, in a historic vote, Florida voters have delivered a knock-out blow to a cruel industry that has been hurting and killing dogs for nearly a century,” it said. “This is a small step in turning the page on a relic of old economy, but a giant step for animal protection nationwide.”
Animal welfare organizations argue that greyhound racing is a cruel sport, but track owners and trainers disagree. Terry Lohrman, president of the Indianapolis chapter of Greyhound Pets of America, united with 100 greyhound adoption groups to oppose the ban.
“If the dogs are not treated well, how will they race on the track?” Lohrman said. “They have to be healthy and well-balanced dogs, and they are only doing what they love. They love to run and chase and were bred for hundreds of years to be hunting dogs. That’s what they do.”
Lohrman said that the Indianapolis chapter of Greyhound Pets of America receives between 10 and 12 retired racers every three months. She expects to see those numbers spike.
Rescue organizations are preparing for an influx of greyhounds. It is predicted that at least 6,000 dogs will be displaced once Florida’s racing tracks close.
Dennis Tyler, co-chairmen of the Greyhound Adoption Action Alliance, said that while thousands of greyhounds are retiring, many will continue to race.
“When the ban takes place, they’re not all going to be pets,” Tyler said. “I’m assuming 1,500 to 2,000 will go to race somewhere else.”
But for retiring greyhounds, the future seems uncertain. Lohrman’s organization is actively trying to match foster greyhounds with potential adopters. Right now, her chapter’s primary need is funding and foster families.
Individuals interested in helping are encouraged to reach out to local rescue organizations and adoption agencies. Here are a couple ways you can help:
- Donate money or dog-related items (food should be high quality to help the greyhounds transition)
- Step up as a foster parent. House a rescue for roughly four to eight weeks