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.