What about the dogs?
By Christopher Straka, GAR Treasurer As many may have read, on November 6, 2018, Amendment 13 to the Florida constitution was approved by the voters in that state.
What does this mean and why is it important?
Amendment 13 to the Florida constitution effectively ends Greyhound racing in Florida. Wagering on racing will no longer be allowed after 12/31/2020. Tracks may cease racing as soon as 1/1/2019 and continue their other gaming operations (poker rooms, simulcasting). This is important because of the 18 regularly operating tracks in North America, 11 of them are in Florida.
What about all the dogs?!
This is the biggest question we have been asked, and rightfully so. The very important thing to understand that as of today, 11/17/18, there is no immediate crisis, and thankfully there shouldn’t be one anytime soon. Here’s why:
Of the 11 tracks in Florida, four of the seasonal tracks MAY not reopen, and there are not any dogs there. (Pensacola, Ebro, Hollywood, Melbourne). Five of the tracks have committed to “business as usual” until 12/31/2020 (Daytona Beach, Sanford Orlando, Palm Beach Kennel Club, Jacksonville, Derby Lane). The two remaining seasonal tracks, Sarasota and Naples, have committed to running at least one more season. They will reopen for live racing in December and close in May 2019, or sometime thereafter.
What is important to remember is that these tracks have always been seasonal tracks, and they close at the end of their season every year and the dogs are either moved to other tracks or petted out. Again, this happens every year. There are still other tracks in the country that these dogs can move to. Yes, there will be a bump in available dogs as the number of track options for these dogs is fewer.
**These track opening and closure dates are subject to change.
That leaves us with the five tracks that have committed to staying open until 12/31/2020, over two years away. On the surface, this may seem like an overwhelming problem. Once again, there are three options for these dogs, as in any track closure—they are returned to their owners, they are petted out into a responsible adoption group, or they move on to continue their racing career at another track. Yes, at this time their will be a larger number of immediate retirees, but there is also a large adoption network, and with two years of runway leading up to the ultimate closures, breeding will slow down, and there will not be as many available dogs to race to begin with.
What about younger pups that are still at farms? Are they at risk?
It takes 16-18 months for dogs to be "track ready." Pups that are at farms now will still have the opportunity to race at Florida tracks or other tracks in the country. Breedings will be expected to naturally slow down.
I’ve read that there are 15,000 (or 10,000 or 8,000 or 12,000) dogs that need homes now
This couldn’t be further from the truth. Right now, and until the middle of next year, it is pretty much business as usual. There are NOT any dogs that are at risk at this point.
How can I help now?
If you are involved with an adoption group, continue to help as you have been. To prepare for what will be an uptick in dogs, every group needs what they have always needed, money, foster homes, volunteers. If you can’t foster or volunteer, please donate money generously to your local adoption group or to GPA-National at www.greyhoundpets.org. Be absolutely sure that you are donating to a legitimate greyhound adoption group. A list can be found at www.ngagreyhounds.com/adopt. Do not give to any group promising to merely “help” greyhounds or to any other GoFundMe fundraiser that is not specifically tied to one of the groups named on the NGA's website. This will still be a major undertaking, and funds are and will be desperately needed.
I heard that several adoption groups supported a “NO” vote on this amendment. Is that true?
Yes, 102 Greyhound adoption groups supported a “NO” vote. While this may have been seen as a nod in support of greyhound racing, it was the concern that the language in the amendment gave absolutely no plan, financial or otherwise, to the care of the dogs that will be forced into retirement. In other words, the animal rights extremists who wrote and supported this amendment provided absolutely no game plan for the dogs. Furthermore, the voters in Florida, given the vague language that appeared on the ballot, did not understand this. In other words, the amendment was written and left for others to pick up the pieces.
Will all the dogs be safe and accounted for?
Without a doubt, yes. The National Greyhound Association (NGA) and GPA National are coordinating the track closures and well-being of all the dogs. The hands-on people, the trainers, owners and kennel workers, continue to ensure the safety and welfare of their dogs, and will until each one is moved to another track to continue racing, or to a responsible Greyhound adoption group. Updated 11/17/18