This article is written by Jen Krebs of GREY2K USA. GREY2K USA is responsible for closing many greyhound racing tracks across the country. It’s a wonderful and important nonprofit.
Racing greyhounds in Florida, and nationwide, may soon get some wonderful news. The Florida legislature is considering two bills–House Bill 1145 and Senate Bill 1594–that would allow dog tracks in the state to terminate live dog racing and continue operating their poker rooms and/or slot machines. This legislation is known as ‘decoupling’ or ‘de-linkage’.
For years, dog tracks in Florida have been required to meet a minimum number of live racing days in order to operate other more profitable forms of gambling. But public interest in greyhound racing has significantly decreased, and dog racing now represents less than one percent of all wagers made annually. The financial woes and the many recent closures of dog tracks across the U.S. are proof that without the life support of other gambling revenue, greyhound racing is a dying industry.
In the face of these irrefutable facts and the pending decoupling legislation in Florida, greyhound breeders are now resorting to scare tactics regarding what will happen to racing greyhounds when dog tracks close, in a desperate effort to defend this cruel sport.
The reality is that any greyhounds displaced by decoupling legislation would need transitional assistance anyway, in a year or two when their racing careers ended.
Twenty-five dog tracks have closed or ended live racing since 2001, in Oregon, Connecticut, Colorado, Wisconsin, Kansas, Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island. In each of these cases, adoption groups mobilized and found homes for all of the dogs that were displaced.
Greyhound adoption groups have been preparing for a possible influx of dogs from Florida tracks for over a year. They have created a specific plan, called the United Pathfinder Project, to address this issue. This plan has been shared with hundreds of adoption groups across the country, to make them aware that they may need to help Florida greyhounds.
Additionally, mainstream animal protection groups, including GREY2K USA, the Humane Society of the United States and the American Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals are committed to helping any dogs displaced by the passage of decoupling legislation in Florida.
Finally, not all Florida tracks will take the option and stop holding greyhound races. For the tracks that do, many are seasonal. These seasonal tracks will end their season, just as they do now, but will simply not bring greyhound racing back again.
One thing is certain-as long as dog racing exists, greyhounds will die.
The end of dog racing means that these gentle dogs will no longer be injured and killed on the track. Thousands of dogs will no longer live confined for twenty or more hours per day in cages barely large enough for them to stand up or turn around.
As of this writing, there are twenty-three operational tracks remaining in just seven states–Arizona, Texas, Iowa, West Virginia, Arkansas, Alabama and Florida.
Greyhound advocates continue to work to put this cruel industry out of business, and until greyhound racing is phased out in every state, the work of adoption groups remain vital.
The end of dog racing will mean that future generations of greyhounds won’t have to bear the suffering of so many in the past.