Greyhound racing to end at midnight
TALLAHASSEE, Fla. (CAPITOL NEWS SERVICE) - At midnight, the nearly century-old tradition of racing greyhounds in Florida will come to an end.
The battle over greyhound racing was hard fought on both sides for decades.
The first greyhound track was built in Florida in 1922, but dog racing wasn’t officially made legal until 1931.
“It was approved by the Legislature during the Great Depression as a fundraising tool for the state,” said Jack Cory, a lobbyist representing the Florida Greyhound Association.
Florida remained the hub for greyhound racing for nearly a century, but animal rights groups spent decades pushing lawmakers to end the practice.
“We strove to educate them about it. We wanted them to know that a dog died every three days in Florida. We wanted to let them know that dogs were drugged,” said Christine Dorchak, President of Grey2K USA Worldwide, which was one of the main groups that lobbied to end greyhound racing in Florida.
Anti-racing advocates didn’t find success until the Constitution Revision Commission met in 2018 and put the question before voters.
The Protect Dogs: Yes on 13 Campaign ensued.
And to the dismay of the racing industry, 69 percent of voters approved the amendment.
“It’s a sad commentary when the constitution is used by out of state radical groups to hurt the economy of the State of Florida,” said Cory.
Anti-racing advocates now have their sights set on West Virginia.
“The trend is definitely with the greyhounds. We’re very hopeful that the cruelty of dog racing is going to end, not just in this country, but across the globe,” said Dorchak.
As for the dogs, greyhound industry advocates estimate two thirds will be adopted out, while the rest will likely go on to continue racing in the four states where tracks still to operate.
The final greyhound race will be run at Derby Lane, the oldest existing track in Florida founded in 1925.
It’s scheduled for 11:59 PM, just one minute before the ban takes effect.