Florida dog tracks close due to coronavirus, some greyhounds need homes

All tracks in state will be forced closed by end of year after vote to end dog racing

VIDEO: Under legislation that was passed, dog tracks around the state were given months before they had to shut down, but now because of the coronavirus the dog tracks closed earlier than expected.

JACKSONVILLE, Fla. – Dog tracks in the state have been scheduled to close permanently by the end of the year after a vote back in 2018 to stop dog racing in Florida.

After the legislation was passed, the six tracks in Florida had months before shutting their doors for good, but because of the coronavirus, dog tracks are closed.

Some plan to reopen before the year’s end.

According to Jack Cory with Public Affairs Consultants, a group representing the Florida Greyhound Association, more than 40 greyhounds were shipped out overnight to New England in need of homes, but there are still more than 950 racing dogs in Jacksonville.

“All of the tracks are closed at this time. Daytona has announced that they will be closing permanently. The other tracks, we believe, will try to re-open. Some of the more responsible operators like St. Petersburg are providing $2,500 a week in cash allowance to the kennel operators to take care of the greyhounds,” Cory told News4Jax.

The Florida Greyhound Association is made up of the greyhound owners, kennel operators and farmers. Cory said he’s personally asked Best Bet Orange Park to follow in St. Petersburg’s footsteps to ensure the animals are taken care of properly.

“Because of the current crisis, it was stepped up. These animals were going to be put up for adoption anyhow in the coming months, but obviously with Best Bet closing abruptly that’s caused everything to be accelerated,” Cory said.

News4Jax spoke with Carolee Ellison, the lead trainer at Awesome Greyhound Adoptions based in Boynton Beach, whose organization took in some of those dogs.

“We were anticipating having a little bit more time to prepare for the dogs to place them, but now all of a sudden we have 1,500 dogs that are looking for a place to go,” Ellison said.

Ellison said she expects more tracks to follow, meaning the more than 5,000 dogs in the state will be permanently off the tracks and in need of a forever home by December or earlier.

An intake is about $500 to get each dog spayed, neutered, medications and food.

Awesome Greyhound Adoptions is looking for foster homes, but wants families based from Vero Beach to Fort Lauderdale since it said it requires home visits. There are other ways for the Northeast Florida community to help.

"They have to be walked three or four times a day, they have to be fed twice a day, they have to be watered constantly so it’s a major issue," Cory said. "That’s why were asking the track to assist us."

News4Jax has reached out to the agency representing Best Bet, but they declined to comment.

People can adopt and foster retired racing greyhounds by visiting Greyhounds as Pets of Northeast Florida.