As soon as the news broke that Floridians had voted to end greyhound racing, local adoption groups were flooded with calls and applications from across the country. It seemed everyone wanted to bring home an ex-racer.
But apparently forgotten in the panic over the fate of Florida's thousands of racing greyhounds was an important detail: The ban won't go into effect until the end of 2020. Tracks across the Sunshine State are allowed to keep running dogs for two more years.
For now, many adoption groups say they haven't yet seen a sudden influx of greyhounds. Trainers say they'll wind things down over the next two years by not replacing dogs as they retire. And breeding facilities have reportedly been whelping fewer and fewer puppies.
There is, however, one group of former racing greyhounds that need homes immediately. More than 500 dogs were abandoned last summer after government officials closed down the Canidrome, a notorious racetrack in the Chinese territory of Macau.
Animal rights groups, which say the track kept dogs in shoddy conditions and euthanized underperformers, have been leading the effort to find new homes. At least 40 dogs have arrived here in South Florida, where local rescue organizations are working to adopt them out.
"They're finally now really playing with toys and really getting a personality," says Sonia Stratemann, who runs Elite Greyhound Adoptions out of her home in Loxahatchee Grove. "It's really sad — they just lived in solitary confinement and were leash-walked with muzzles."
Of the 35
Another local adoption group, Sunrise-based Friends of Greyhounds, has taken in five former Canidrome dogs since December and has two left.
"We would love to find them homes," says Michelle Weaver, who estimates she's placed 2,400 greyhounds since 2001.
Adoption groups say former racers make great pets. Though they can run as fast as 45 miles per hour, they're not the hyperactive, constantly sprinting dogs many people imagine. They're more like giant couch potatoes. They're generally gentle and friendly and thrive on human companionship.
"If you want to go spend a day at the beach or go out walking, they want to do that," Stratemann says. "If you want to hang out and watch Netflix all day, they're happy to do that. They just really want to be with you."
Elite Greyhound Adoptions and Friends of Greyhounds have their own application processes, so check out their websites or contact them directly if you're interested in a Macau greyhound.
In the meantime, as the end of racing looms in Florida, the National Greyhound Association says it is partnering with Greyhound Pets of America to place dogs in adoptive homes or at tracks in states where racing remains legal. The NGA, which registers racing greyhounds, insists it will work only with adoption groups that fought the Florida ban.
Below is a list of those groups at the association's website.
Greyhound Support Transport. Transport services for adoption-bound greyhounds. email@example.com; 305-753-1985.
Awesome Greyhound Adoptions. Supports the Southeast Florida area, including Palm Beach, Martin, Broward, and St. Lucie Counties. 226 SE First Ave., Boyton Beach; 561-737-1941; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greyhounds as Pets of Northeast Florida. 2600 W. Fifth St., Jacksonville; 904-388-6034; greyhoundpetsjax.org.
ACT Greyhounds. Transports to Eastern U.S. and Canada. 1564 S. Lyons Ct., Oviedo; 407-365-7283; email@example.com.
Sun State Greyhound Adoption. Miami and Fort Lauderdale areas: Crystal Carroll, 503-756-4285; firstname.lastname@example.org. Tampa Bay and Naples areas: Sharon Dippel, 813-263-3427; email@example.com.
Greyhound Pets of America Emerald Coast. P.O. Box 64, Gonzales; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greyhound Pets of America Greater Orlando. 1260 S. Ronald Reagan Way; Longwood; 407-332-4754; greyhoundpetsorlando.org.
Greyhound Pets of America Tampa Bay. P.O. Box 8071, Madeira Beach; 727-595-7852; email@example.com.
Greyed A Greyhound Assistance and Placement Services. 561-385-3755; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Greyhouse Pets of America Gainesville. Ann-Marie Brown, 352-318-0156; email@example.com.
God's Greys. 7259 Hiawassee Oak Dr., Orlando; 407-578-7496; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Box to the Wire Greyhound Adoption. Ladonna Miller, 386-401-9473; email@example.com.
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Bay Area Greyhound Adoptions. 13014 N. Dale Mabry Hwy., #180, Tampa; 813-272-2332; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Adoptable Greyhounds of Florida. Educating the public about the care and love given to the racing greyhound. 2916 Wyola Ave., North Port; email@example.com.
Greyhound Pet Adoption FL SE, Inc. 7047 Belvedere Rd., West Palm Beach; firstname.lastname@example.org.
Running the Rail. email@example.com.