“Since Amendment 13 passed, we’ve had over 100 applications from all over the United States, as well as South Africa and Mexico,” said Mary Ann Grzybowski, president of Greyhound Pet Adoption Florida/Southeast, a nonprofit that finds homes for retired race greyhounds.
That would normally be considered great news for a greyhound adoption organization. However, the ban doesn’t take effect until Jan. 1, 2021, and the greyhounds aren’t being retired yet.
“We don’t expect the first influx of dogs until May or June when the tracks close for the season,” Grzybowski said.
Even then, there might not be a very large influx of dogs looking for new homes because there will still be two more racing seasons before Florida, home to 11 out of 17 greyhound racetracks around the country, bans the sport. And when the ban kicks in, many greyhound owners might take their dogs to other states.
However, there’s no doubt that there could be a large influx of greyhounds looking for homes over the next two years, and greyhound adoption organizations, many of which opposed the Florida ban, are getting ready.
Dennis Tyler, president of Greyhound Pet Adoption of Central Florida, said his organization is reaching out to adoption groups around the country to see what they need in order to be able to take in more dogs when the time comes.
Funds will be needed for general upkeep of the dogs, including food, shelter and care. But money will also be needed for veterinary and transportation costs. Greyhounds are not spayed or neutered before they retire. And safely transporting dogs can cost about $100 each. In what could be a mass exodus of more than 3,000 dogs, these costs add up. One organization involved in rescue efforts estimates the cost to hover around $1,500 per dog.
“People are asking what they can do for adoption now, and that would be to support your local adoption group, whether it’s here in Florida or in New Jersey or wherever,” Tyler said. “Because they’re gonna need funds for when this does go down.”
Over the past 40 years, as more states have put restrictions or outright bans on the sport, greyhound racing has becomes less common in the United States.
In the 1980s, there were more than 50 racetracks across the country, compared to 17 today. And when Florida enacts its ban, that number will be down to six.
The decrease in the number of tracks over the years has led to a decrease in the number of greyhounds getting bred.
Tyler, who has found homes for thousands of greyhounds over the years, estimates that 40,000 greyhounds were bred each year during the 1980s. By 2008, that number was cut in half to 20,000. And this year, between 6,000 and 7,000 greyhounds were bred.
The smaller number of greyhounds compared to years past should make it easier to find homes. But adoption organizations also have another positive: They had to deal with this problem recently.
In 2016, Arizona and Colorado banned greyhound racing and hundreds of dogs were in need of new homes.
Jean Williams, president of Arizona Greyhound Rescue, said her organization was able to find homes for the more than 40 dogs it received that year. And she expects to do the same with dogs from Florida.
Later this month, the organization will receive at least 10 greyhounds from Florida, she said. And over the next year, as tracks begin to close around Florida, they expect more inquiries from trainers looking for a home for their greyhounds.
As greyhound racing in the United States winds down, adoption agencies might be busier than the breeders and trainers. But they’re aiming to be ready for the challenge.
“We’ll find homes for the dogs,” Grzybowski said. “We always do.”