TALLAHASSEE, Fla. – Taxes on Greyhound racing in Florida put about $3 million in the state treasury each year. Some are pushing to end the sport, and thousands of jobs and millions of dollars are at stake.
Lee Devon is a spirited champion Greyhound. She lives at a Madison County breeding farm with a hundred other dogs who are being trained for racing.
"She runs every Monday and Thursday morning," said Greyhound breeder Ron Gurley, "about 30 seconds."
State reports show 70 dogs died last year. Animal activists are pushing lawmakers to end dog racing.
"They're dying for an activity that no one's betting on," said Grey2K USA Executive Director Carey Theil.
Gene Gurley, who has been a dog breeder since 1961, counters that it doesn't make sense for him to mistreat his dogs.
"For us, to get a dog to the race track, we've got $2,200 in that dog and we want him to do the very best he can," said Gene Gurley.
Jack Cory, who represents the breeders in front of lawmakers, said the 70 dogs who died make up less than 1 percent of all the dogs that raced in Florida. He blames tracks for the majority of deaths and injuries.
"One Greyhound dying prematurely is too many," said Cory. "However, of that 70, 50 percent of those were track injuries, and we have put forth the safety plan that could have stopped the majority of those 50 percent. Fix the track surface, maintain it to a standard."
State lawmakers are being asked by dog tracks to be able to stop racing dogs and simply offer card games. That would mean there'd be no place for these dogs to go.
Florida currently has 12 active dog tracks, producing about $3 million in tax revenue each year.
The Madison County greyhound farm is also rehabbing 15 dogs who were injured at tracks. Most will spend two months walking in a fenced area at their own pace, then begin walking a 20-minute mile under supervision until they heal.