Dog races continue for now, but change is coming to Florida institution

MGN Online

Big changes eventually lie ahead at a Palm Beach County institution after Florida voters overwhelmingly approved a ban on betting on dog racing.

The Palm Beach Kennel Club said it’s business as usual for now, but the days of racing greyhounds at the facility are numbered.

Amendment 13 passed with 69 percent of the vote on Tuesday, easily surpassing the required 60 percent threshold.

The measure requires a phase-out of betting on dog racing by the beginning of 2021.

The ballot language said other gaming activities can go on. The Kennel Club has also offered poker and simulcasting from other parimutuel venues for years.

But those who own and train the greyhounds will be impacted.

“The dog men will need to find other employment,” said Sonia Stratemann, whose Loxahatchee Groves adoption group used to work with the greyhound owners at the Palm Beach Kennel Club.

Stratemann explained the Kennel Club does not directly own the dogs.

So what happens to all the greyhounds when racing eventually goes away?

Amendment 13 opponents said there are 8,000 greyhounds at the state’s facilities.

That’s a lot, but Stratemann says because of the dogs’ short racing life, thousands of greyhounds need to be adopted every year anyway.

Stratemann backed Amendment 13.

“It’s amazing the support,” she said. “You know, local groups here, non-greyhound specific groups— everybody has been wanting to help. We have offers from so many rescuers out of our state.”

Barbara Masi heads another local greyhound adoption organization. She opposed Amendment 13, but said the volunteer groups will now need donations to make sure they can find homes for the dogs.

The Kennel Club’s assured it would work to find homes for every greyhound.

The club also said it planned to proceed with its current racing schedule and would do everything possible to protect employees jobs.

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