By Rachel Giordano
Have you ever rescued a greyhound? If not, you’re missing out on a gentle companion that could change both of your lives for the better.
Florida’s recent election allowed voters to decide if greyhound racing should be banned.
The voters spoke.
Greyhound racing in Florida will be phased out by Dec 31, 2020.
So what does this mean? It means that commercial dog racing will no longer be in operation. It also means that other forms of gambling at these dog tracks will not be affected (slots and card games).
Some may argue that this should not have been on the ballot because it will cost the state a substantial amount of money, even though there has been a decline in revenue. For me, I am thrilled it was on the ballot (and passed) because I have rescued greyhounds, and I know the tales behind the tails.
When I lived in Florence, AL, I vacationed here along the panhandle, more specifically, Destin. The people I traveled with at the time loved going to the Ebro Greyhound Racing Park and Poker Room in Ebro, FL. I didn’t care about the racing part but loved going to pet the greyhounds. They usually had a couple out that you could go visit.
Granted, this was many years ago (old geezer) and I wasn’t sure how I felt about greyhounds being used as racing dogs for entertainment. I did not know how they were treated, and they all looked a little malnourished.
One good thing I can say about this particular track is that they promoted adoption. Because of my few visits to the park, I became involved with greyhound adoption.
After careful consideration, I adopted my first greyhound back in 1997. Her racing name was Laurel, but I quickly changed it to Maggie. She was a black, beautiful girl with a gentle disposition and loving personality.
She wasn’t a good racer and was only two-years-old when I adopted her. The reasoning for this was because she did not make her owners any money. So, instead of allowing her to be euthanized, I made her a member of my family. I didn’t care that her teeth were in horrible shape due to the high protein foods she was fed at the track; I loved her all the same.
She lived to the age of seven, sadly passing away from kidney failure while I held her in my arms. Putting her down was one of the hardest things I have ever had to do, but it was comforting knowing that I gave her a chance at life—a life of being spoiled, plenty of hugs and kisses, long walks and a big backyard to run in.
More importantly, no racing.
Some argue that greyhounds enjoy their racing lifestyle. Obviously I am not a greyhound, so I wouldn’t know.
What I do know is that Maggie did not have to be in a kennel for 23 hours a day, and she did not have to chase a fake rabbit that she never had a chance to catch, risking injury in the process.
Before Maggie passed, I adopted a big, beautiful 4-year-old gray boy named Maverick. Maverick was a sure fire bet back in his heyday; he made his owners money in the many races he won, as well as the people that bet on him. However, when Maverick tore his right shoulder muscle during a race, he was no longer any use to his owners, so he was put up for adoption.
He could have easily been put down, but thanks to the greyhound adoption program, I was able to adopt him and give him a loving home. He also gained a sister to share his retired racing life with.
There is a slogan that refers to retired greyhounds as “couch potatoes.” Maverick eased into his role as a retired racer as easily as a puppy eases into a warm blanket. He had a big backyard where he could run his laps. Afterward, he curled up in his favorite oversized leather chair.
He was not put into a crate with little to no interaction.
Maverick sadly passed at the age of nine, but he fully enjoyed his retired life. I take comfort in that.
Declining revenue and concerns of animal cruelty have caused 40 states to ban the sport. Florida was one of the last states to hold out, along with Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Iowa, Texas and West Virginia. However, Florida is home to twelve of the tracks in the U.S., so this amendment passing was a huge victory for those that oppose it.
Scare tactics were used leading up to the election; those against the ban claimed that 8,000 greyhounds would be euthanized because they will have nowhere else to go. When Massachusetts banned the sport in January of 2010, there was a record for adoptions in the state (according to state records).
I say to you all: There are plenty of adoption programs out there that will take these dogs in. Do not let these people scare you. The adoption process ensures that they greyhounds are placed in the right homes, so you can rest assured that your new best friend is a perfect fit.
I cannot recommend adopting a greyhound enough. They are so sweet and gentle, and training them is a breeze. They are already kennel trained, so all that is required is weaning them out of their kennels and into your home.
If you would like more information about greyhound adoption, you can visit: www.adopt-a-greyhound.org.
Adopt a greyhound and make a fast friend!