Passage of Amendment 13 shuts down Florida Greyhound racing by 2020

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For years, Sally Buuck fostered dozens of former racing Greyhounds.

“When they came to us,” Buuck said, “they were full of ticks and fleas and worms.”

The condition she and others claim they found these tall slender animals in was disturbing.

“The legs that were broken,” Buuck said. “The tails that had been. They call it ‘happy tail’ because it would hit the inside of the crate.”

Florida records show that on average, two of the state’s approximate 8,000 racing dogs die of injury or illness weekly while supporters of the Greyhound racing industry said injured dogs have quality veterinary treatment.

“I think the dogs are abused,” Charlie Keller said, a poker player. “I think it’s all about money.”

Greyhounds that compete in races. Photo via WINK News
Greyhounds that compete in races. Photo via WINK News.

Still, for over 80 years, dog racing has been a staple in Florida. Recent figures from the Florida Division of Pari-Mutuel Wagering show between 2012 to 2017, over $1.2 billion was wagered on Greyhound races at Florida’s tracks. The state carries the most tracks in the nation.

“That upset me a lot,” Jocelito Rousseau said. “I think it’ll put a dent on Florida gambling.”

Historically, Greyhound racing often was the attraction that brought people to the poker tables. But the sport was losing interest and the state has been losing money since the 1990s.

“This place is sustained on the poker playing now,” Charlie Keller said. “Not many people are interested in the dogs like they used to be.”

Now with Amendment 13 passing on Tuesday, all 12 tracks must be shut down by 2020.

“Now they take it away,” Jocelito Rousseau said, “I think it’ll upset a lot of people.”

Naples Fort Myers Greyhound Racing and Poker will continue providing gambling. But jobs will be lost and thousands of dogs could be up for adoption.

But helping these animals, such as the powerful Greyhounds, has some in Florida optimistic about the future.

“Our home is always open,” Sally Bucck said.

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