When Tracks Close, Where Do Greyhounds Go?
At the Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound Track in Bonita Springs, the dogs ran their last races on Sunday May 3. A greyhound racing ban was passed by an overwhelming majority in the November 2018 election. Greyhound racing is now active in just three states: Iowa, Texas and West Virginia, and it is being actively phased out in Arkansas.
Barbara Masi is President and Founder of Awesome Greyhound Adoptions in Boynton Beach, which is one of the groups overseeing the adoptions from the Bonita Springs track. The coronavirus pandemic has caused the sudden closure of several other tracks in Florida too, but the greyhound adoption network—the “Greyhound Nation,” she calls it, is stepping up.
"They are coming off the track quickly," she said. "We are placing them quickly. We do not euthanize any of them. They’re all taken care of."
Karen Feldman of North Ft Myers is a longtime greyhound owner. She now lives with her 7th and 8th greyhound. They’re very easy to love, she says, and nowhere near as active as many people think.
"They’re very laid-back," said Feldman. "People will say, don’t you need a big yard? They need about 5 minutes of exercise a day. What you need is a big couch, you need a good-sized bed. Because they will want to join you. They really do think they are lap dogs."
They’re also great, Masi says, at being service dogs. She is part of a program called Hounds & Heroes, which donates greyhounds that can aid veterans.
"The tallness makes them good for veterans with mobility assistance and they are so intuitive, they can help with night terrors. They can help with a lot of issues that veterans do have," Masi said.
So as the Florida tracks close, the greyhounds move on to new homes and new jobs.