Amendment 13 to the Florida constitution passed 69-31 in Tuesday’s midterm elections, effectively banning greyhound racing throughout the state.
While it is a victory for animal rights, many dog lovers are concerned about what will become of the nearly 15,000 greyhounds involved in the Florida racing industry.
According to SBNation, rescue groups across the country are “working tirelessly” to ensure the dogs find forever homes by the time the law comes into effect in 2020. The problem is the sheer volume of animals that will be in need of placement in the coming years.
Florida is home to 11 of the country’s 17 remaining dog racing tracks. ESPN’s John Barr estimates there are approximately 8,000 dogs actively racing at these tracks, and another 7,000 in training. The law allows for the industry to shut down slowly in order to alleviate some of the stress of rehoming the dogs, but a massive coordinated effort will be required to ensure no dogs fall between the cracks.
The popularity of greyhound racing has greatly decreased in recent decades. It was a $3.5 billion industry in 1991, and brings in an estimated $500 million today.
This waning interest is due in part to the reported abuse of the dogs involved. A 2015 report compiled by the greyhound advocacy group GREY2K USA and the ASPCA detailed the druggings, untreated injuries, and neglectful living conditions suffered by racing dogs. For the years 2008-2015, they found that 11,722 greyhounds were injured, and at least 909 died.
On the issue of animal cruelty in the racing industry, the ASPCA writes:
“Racing Greyhounds routinely experience terrible injuries on the track such as broken legs, cardiac arrest, spinal cord paralysis and broken necks. They suffer off the track as well: Dogs caught up in this cruel industry spend most of their lives stacked in warehouse-style kennels for 20 or more hours a day, or are kept outdoors in dirt pens with minimal shelter.”
Once they are no longer considered fit to race, the dogs are either killed, sent to breeding facilities, or passed off on rescue groups to be rehomed.
Florida is considered the “epicenter” of the U.S. dog racing industry, meaning Amendment 13 could put American racing out of business for good. As the state’s 11 tracks are dismantled, rescue groups will need public support. You can help by fostering, adopting, donating, or spreading the word across social media.
The following organizations are devoted to ensuring Florida’s racing dogs live out their retirement in peace and love.
More than 40 states have banned greyhound racing, but it is still legal in Alabama, Arkansas, Iowa, Texas and West Virginia. Find out how you can help put an end to this industry in the U.S. and abroad.
Featured Image via Facebook/GREY2KUSA
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