Tampa greyhound rescue: Fears misguided about fate of discarded racing dogs

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Voters gave greyhound racing a fatal blow earlier this month, voting to end the sport across the Sunshine State.

Dogs across the state will take their final laps on December 31, 2020.  It’s a win for animal advocates, but a blow to the industry and everyone involved in dog racing.

Across Florida, there are 11 live greyhound racetracks, as many as 8,000 racing canines, and thousands more on farms being trained to enter the industry.

"Most of them do get adopted out, but you still have an awful lot of dogs that are living in cages, that are getting hurt, that are getting injured," said Kelly Faircloth with Greyhound Rescue and Adoptions of Tampa.

Faircloth's greyhound adoption group has been anti-racing since she founded it in 1993.

Now that the sport is being outlawed, Faircloth says she's been slammed with applications. While there is a deadline looming she says there won't be a sudden flood of retired racers to become pets.

"There has been no indication whatsoever that there's going to be thousands of dogs who need a home in the next eight weeks," Faircloth said.

Most likely, there will be a gradual shut down of the industry over the next two years.

"We're all kinda anxious to see what's gonna happen now," said National Greyhound Association executive director, Jim Gartland.

Gartland tells us the future for breeders, track operators and trainers is less clear. He says many of them will be forced to scale back or shut down.

"That's my biggest concern, first and foremost the people and the animals in this industry that will lose their livelihoods, lose their jobs, the people at the racetracks, the people who take care of the dogs, the people who work at the racetracks themselves, the significant loss of income to the state of Florida," Gartland said.

State lawmakers promising Wednesday they won't do anything to block Amendment 13 and the other measures passed by voters.

"We have to do it right,” State Senator Bill Galvano said. “We're not going to slow walk it, but we have to make sure that it's done right and implemented correctly."

For some tracks, losing live racing could mean more revenue. Right now, if facilities want to operate poker rooms and take simulcast racing bets, they must offer live dog races.  Amendment 13 allows tracks to keep those side business without dogs running there.