Florida dog tracks must close by the end of the year after a 2018 ballot measure to end dog racing in the state received overwhelming support from voters, with nearly 70 percent voting to end the cruel practice. The Greyhound tracks have until the end of 2020 to phase out racing, but COVID-19 has effectively moved up that timeline.

With most non-essential businesses shuttered during the pandemic to keep the spread of the virus in check, racetracks have been forced to close. It is anticipated that many of those tracks will not reopen. As a result, Greyhound rescues in Florida are scrambling as they find themselves with 1,500 Greyhounds that are now in need of permanent adoptive homes. Until rescues can find the right forever homes for these dogs, they are also looking for volunteer foster families able to take the dogs in temporarily. A volunteer-run non-profit called Awesome Greyhound Adoptions is leading the work. (Learn more about their rescue organization and see dogs that are available for adoption at awesomegreyhoundadoptions.org.)

Alamo is just one of the former racing greyhounds looking for his forever home though the rescue organization Awesome Greyhound Adoptions.

Animal advocates have long lobbied for the banning of commercial Greyhound racing. Greyhounds that are bred for commercial racing live very limited lives on racetracks. Among the most vocal supporters of ending greyhound racing was the Humane Society of The United States, who has reported thousands of injuries to racing Greyhounds. According to investigative reporting, racing Greyhounds spend 20 to 23 hours a day confined to crates with only carpet scraps and shredded paper for bedding and are let out only for training or racing.

While some tracks have already said they are permanently closed because of COVID-19, others in the state of Florida anticipate reopening for dog racing as soon as it is safe for them to do so and intend to remain open until the end of the year when they legally must close.

“All of the tracks are closed at this time,” Jack Cory with Public Affairs Consultants, a group representing the Florida Greyhound Association, told local Florida news at the end of March. “Daytona has announced that they will be closing permanently. The other tracks, we believe, will try to re-open.”

Local rescue groups knew that dogs would be entering rescue by the end of the year as tracks closed, but COVID-19 has left them needing to find placements much sooner. It is estimated that by the end of the year when Greyhound racing in the state of Florida must end, there could be upwards of 5,000 Greyhounds in need of adoptive homes and families.

Want to Help?

Awesome Greyhound Adoptions, whose work has been going viral since the start of COVID-19, is looking for adoptive and foster homes for the retired racers. They also offer the option on their website, awesomegreyhoundadoptions.org, to sponsor a dog or support with donations of supplies.

Interested in Adopting?

Former racing Greyhounds can make great  family pets and are often lovingly referred to as 45 MPH couch potatoes. Although these dogs are fantastic athletes, they are just as famous for being great, affectionate pets. There aren’t a lot of good things about COVID-19 and the impact it is having on the world, but one small bright light is that these Greyhounds are getting an early retirement. Thanks to the work of rescue workers, retirement for a racing greyhound means the opportunity to find the first loving home they will have known.