During the this month’s election, Florida voters had a chance to ban the controversial practice of betting on dog races within their state by voting in favor of Amendment 13. The amendment was approved with a considerable majority (with over 5.3 million being in favor, making up 69 percent of the total votes), and plans are now underway to eliminate canine racing altogether in Florida before the start of 2021. But, an unintended result of the ban is that thousands of dogs may be left homeless unless adopters intervene in a big way.
It is estimated that between 5,000 to 7,000 dogs will be affected by the new amendment. While this is mostly good news for those who have been concerned about the toll that racing takes on the minds and bodies of the dogs, as well as the status of their living conditions, adoption organizations are now scrambling to prepare for a massive influx of incoming greyhounds in need over the next couple of years.
However, some of those in charge of the re-homing efforts are very optimistic about the situation, despite the large number of dogs that will need homes and the urgency with which those homes will be needed. “There are groups already mobilizing in other states,” Kate MacFall, director of the Humane Society of the United States—Florida, told USA Today. “We see this as an incredible opportunity to find homes.” Speaking about the greyhounds themselves, MacFall said that they will make “amazing pets, [being] so gentle and sweet,” adding that they are they “really are gentle giants.”
MacFall’s confidence in her organization’s ability to rehome the dogs has likely been bolstered by the massive number of calls they have received from people who want to take in the affected greyhounds and provide them with forever homes. But, while things are looking up for the dogs, there is still concern that the increase in dogs looking for homes, when combined with increases coming from other states that are also planning to ban betting on canine racing in the near future, may put too much of a strain on pet adoption organizations around the country that lack the facilities or the funds to care for the additional dogs.
“This will be a burden. We're mobilizing now,” explained Brooke Stumpf, president of the GreytHounds greyhound rescue organization in Eastern Michigan. “We'll do the best we can. Some of these dogs might end up at shelters, and they're not all no-kill. That's the scary part.”
Stumpf stated that GreytHounds will be taking in more dogs than normal because of the approval of Amendment 13 (200 dogs in a year as opposed to the usual 50 to 100), but it will still be a drop in the bucket compared to the thousands of dogs that will need homes.
But, if even a tiny portion of those 5.3 million who voted to end canine racing in Florida step up to provide families for these dogs, then this story is sure to have a happy ending. Here’s hoping that those voters will retain their passion to improve the lives of greyhounds and welcome one into their homes.