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One more election result: Colossal dog rescue coming up

I didn’t hear pundits mentioning it on election night, but Florida v*ters approved an amendment to end greyhound racing in their state as of 2020.

Dog racing is a dying sport, anyhow. But Florida’s new law may finish it off; there are only a few tracks left in the country and with Florida out of the game, the critical mass to sustain breeding and racing programs may no longer be there.

To that, dog lovers mostly say, “Good riddance.” But passage of the law creates a problem: In the next two years, some 15,000 racing greyhounds will need foster and adoptive homes, as well as volunteer transport.

Greyhound Pets of America (GPA), formed in 1987 expressly to rehome retired racing hounds, will bear the main burden of coordinating the rescue. A statement currently at the top of their website says this is doable and is already in process:

Glendale, AZ- Greyhound Pets of America (GPA) National President Rory Goree announced today that GPA is working closely with the greyhound racing community and adoption groups across the country to ensure that all greyhounds currently racing in Florida are either adopted or returned to their owners in 2020, when live racing ends in the state. Goree criticized animal extremists who are hyping hysteria and misleading Floridians by suggesting that the passage of Amendment 13, a measure that will end live greyhound racing in Florida in two years, has created an immediate crisis in greyhound adoption. Nearly all Florida tracks have confirmed that they plan to continue to offer live racing until 2020 as allowed under Amendment 13.

“There is no immediate urgency to find homes for the canine athletes who will be dislocated in 2020,” Goree said. “GPA has been working in the field of greyhound adoption for decades, and we know how to prepare for this planned transition out of live racing. When the time comes, all greyhounds will be adopted or returned to their owners,” he said.

Still, even with its two-year timeline, this is probably the largest dog rescue operation in history. Word is quickly circulating among all-breed rescue groups (RW, who gave me the heads-up on this story, works with Irish Wolfhounds.) GPA already takes donations on its website, but also plans to set up a GoFundMe (not yet announced).

If you work in animal rescue or animal welfare, please spread the word. If you’ve ever wanted to adopt a greyhound, your opportunities in the next several years will be monumental. If you’d like to enter the heartwarming and heartbreaking field of dog foster care, think about this for your future. If you can volunteer to transport adoptable greyhounds out of Florida, that’ll be useful, too. If you want to donate to the effort, follow the GPA link. Even if you don’t do anything now (and I expect GPA is probably inundated with inquiries and offers of help just this minute), if you’re a dog person, please keep these 15,000 canine souls in mind and help when the opportunity presents itself.


  1. chad
    chad November 17, 2018 12:44 pm

    It’s not only active dogs, but those in training. I don’t think they are included in the 15,000 number.
    Unfortunately I’ve got all the dogs I can handle right now. But my old faithful will probably pass before 2020, so maybe…
    Good thing my sister is a veterinarian!

  2. Shel
    Shel November 17, 2018 1:01 pm

    The constitutional amendment system in FL is a farce. On the ballot, there is a brief summary, often misleading, of each amendment. The full texts can be found here:

    It’s a marvelous way to slip things by unknowing voters. Also passed was an amendment that in effect will restore voting rights to about 1.5 million felons. I don’t know the percentages of what crimes were committed by them, but historically felons vote for Democrats and certainly for gun control.

  3. chad
    chad November 17, 2018 1:33 pm

    So very true. Many of the amendments were bundled monstrosities that had to be researched thoroughly. You can imagine how many voters bothered.
    I’ve lived in Florida all my long life and love it still. It’s just getting harder to deal with the politics.

  4. Pat
    Pat November 17, 2018 1:41 pm

    I’ve often wondered what happens to greyhounds after retirement; we never hear about follow-up.

    They are bred for running, and if put in practically any foster home, there will not be enough room for them to run. I wonder if they grow fat, or maybe stiff with arthritis or simple non-use. I’m sure they are fed differently than they were fed while running, and what kind of strain does that put on the system?

    (I wonder about hunting dogs as well, especially the hounds and terriers, though they probably stay in the same family as pets.)

  5. Claire
    Claire November 17, 2018 4:17 pm

    Thanks, Shel and Chad. If it’s any comfort, even states like WA — where an initiative is technically required to deal with one subject only, and to deal with it showing strikeouts and underlines where existing language is being changed — politicians and advocacy groups STILL pull “hidden word” cr*p and get away with it.

    If you read the language of the GPA’s statement, you’ll see that even they are pretty frosted with the people who pulled this one off. I agree the implications could be terrible and go way beyond greyhound racing.

  6. Claire
    Claire November 17, 2018 4:20 pm

    Pat — FWIW, I’ve never seen a fat pet greyhound and I’ve seen quite a few of them.

    As I understand it, greyhounds don’t have any huge, uncommon need to run; they just have an inclination for it. You can keep a greyhound as a nice, placid housepet. What you can’t do it take it for an off-leash walk. At least not if you expect to see it again any time soon.

    Definitely have seen some chubby old hunting dogs, though. Some of those breeds tend to put on weight.

  7. Joel
    Joel November 18, 2018 5:29 am

    Somewhat off-topic question for anyone who knows: how smart/stupid is the average greyhound? Because I’ve read statements that range from “about the same as any other breed” to “stupidest thing on four legs.” I’ve also heard that retired racing dogs can be hard to live with. Having never even met one I have no knowledge. I know that once there was a rich-lady fad for pet greyhounds but it seems safe to assume those weren’t retired racers.

    Follow-up question: How inhumane is dog racing really? Anti-cruelty groups have tried to shut down sled racing for forever but if they ever succeed they’ll break the hearts of a lot of sled dogs.

  8. Ruth
    Ruth November 18, 2018 7:04 am

    The “stupidest thing on four legs” is probably the result of someone trying to off leash one. They WILL chase. They can’t help it. With early enough training you MIGHT be able to get around that, but only might. Otherwise, yah, they’re a pretty average breed, smarts wise.

    As for inhumane racing…..I have zero doubt that there are racing stables out there who mistreat their dogs. It seems to be a human nature problem. But in general? A mistreated dog isn’t going to race as well as one in healthy condition, at least over the long term. ALOT of the cries of mistreatment stem from the fact that the dogs are kept in kennels instead of someone’s couch (god forbid that you convince your dog to do anything other than doze on the couch!), along with deliberate misinformation from AR groups.

  9. Shel
    Shel November 18, 2018 8:17 am

    I guess the biggest problem with dog racing, likely with horse racing too, is what to do with the unsuccessful dogs. A friend who formerly worked as a veterinary tech has told me that dogs would be brought in to be euthanized, often ten at a time.

    I started thinking about it, and I only knew about the site I referenced above with the full text of the Florida amendments because there were a couple of pamphlets (one in English, one in Spanish) containing those texts lying on a table as I was standing in line waiting to vote. On the cover of each was a URL which enabled me later to find the same thing on the ‘net. Out of curiosity, I dug up my sample ballot (which hasn’t yet made it to the recycling center). On the ballot it simply states “For more information please visit” and gives a generic site for my county. I went to the site. One click took me to the amendment titles, the next to a summary description of a given amendment, and a third to the full text of that amendment. While the information certainly is available, it seems inconvenient to get to and totally inappropriate for the average voter to be making the decision.

  10. Desertrat 1
    Desertrat 1 November 18, 2018 12:54 pm

    Back during my Florida years, what I liked about dog racing was that the dogs don’t cheat.

    Jai Alai was known to be fixed. Many a jockey held up a horse. But the dogs ran as hard as they could, all the time.

  11. downeasthillbilly
    downeasthillbilly November 19, 2018 5:56 am

    A word of caution – as noted above, greyhounds WILL chase. It’s what they were bred for. If you have other animals, especially cats, DO NOT get greyhounds. We adopted two dogs. The rescue facility certified them as “cat-friendly,” but in the house only. Let them out and they will kill. Within 3 months they had killed one of our three cats, and were in the hunt for the others. In the house. Back to the rescue.

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