These Racing Greyhounds Were Left in Irma’s Path

As if you needed another reason to believe that greyhound racing is unspeakably cruel and inhumane, dogs right in the path of Hurricane Irma were left without an evacuation plan in Florida.

Even as evacuees fled the area with their beloved pets in tow, hundreds of dogs were left sheltering in place — a grave reminder that the lives of exploited greyhounds can be inhumane and short.

Thankfully, Florida’s greyhound racing industry is on the wane, with gambling takes from the state’s 12 tracks rapidly shrinking.

But there’s a problem: An obscurely structured Florida law forces companies that want to run poker rooms to do so on the site of a so-called “pari-mutuel” facility, like a horse or dog racing track. Even if operators want to get out of the track business, they’re trapped, and the law further requires them to run at least 100 live races every year, so no getting around it with a periodic token “race” that satisfies the letter of the law.

Animal advocates have been hoping Florida will pass a “decoupling” bill that would allow companies to close tracks while maintaining other gambling facilities. In the meantime, Florida has a shockingly poorly regulated racing industry; according to Grey2K USA, tracks aren’t even required to report injuries, and there are thousands of dogs trapped in kennels across the state.

As Florida prepared for Hurricane Irma, several race tracks sat right in the storm’s path. Initially, forecasts feared Irma would be a Category Five when it made landfall, making evacuation imperative in these areas. Storms of that severity cause extensive damage, but at least six kennels decided to “shelter in place,” with some holding as many as 1,000 dogs.

Statewide, Grey2K estimates that there are around 8,000 greyhounds held at racing facilities, illustrating the scope of the industry in the sunshine state.

Those dogs were left to their own devices because they had no disaster plan. Despite Florida’s exposure to hurricanes, track operators and dog owners hadn’t thought ahead. This kind of evacuation planning is critical for humans as well as animals — they can’t exactly drive themselves out of town, after all.

During Hurricane Harvey, Tall Tails Animal Rescue flooded, despite the fact that the shelter was out of the evacuation zone. Luckily, rescue workers arrived in time and helped the stranded animals. But imagine rescuing 1,000 panicked greyhounds from crowded conditions in the midst of a storm.

Fortunately, Irma lost some of her punch by the time she hit Florida, or this could be a very different story — a tragedy of flooded kennels and thousands of dead dogs.

Greyhounds shouldn’t be racing in the first place, and declining profits from the practice make it clear that some tracks wouldn’t mind getting out of the business. But Florida’s bizarre and regressive law puts the pressure on gambling operators to keep tormenting dogs in the name of entertainment.

It’s clear that Florida needs to pass legislation to decouple racing and gambling. The next step, of course, is to ban dog — and horse — racing across the state. Thousands of dogs shouldn’t shiver in cramped kennels when they deserve to be curled up in a warm, loving home.

Take Action!

Sign this Care2 petition and urge world leaders to put an end to cruel dog racing.

Photo credit: Kalle Gustafsson

69 comments

Kate Kenner
Kate Kenner4 days ago

If they cared about the dogs enough they wouldn't be racing them. They don't care-to them the dogs only mean money and that is the only reason I would think they would have had a plan. That is a lot of greyhounds to rescue. Bravo to the rescuers who cared for the owners- a term I use sparingly.

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Jennifer H
Jennifer H5 days ago

Not surprised considering they are known to dump them in the desert to die. Racing must be stopped.

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Marija M
Marija M6 days ago

tks

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Reggie G
Reggie Gross8 days ago

Sorry, there was a plan for the greyhounds in Florida during hurricane Irma. The safest option was for greyhounds and greyhound trainers to remain in their reinforced concrete block kennels for the duration. They are all well above any expected storm surge levels, and are built to withstand hurricane force winds. For Grey2k to suggest that greyhounds should have been moved is nothing short of abuse. Shame on Grey2k (Greed2k).

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Glennis W
Glennis W8 days ago

All animals should have been sheltered. . Thank you for caring and sharing

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Glennis W
Glennis W8 days ago

Deplorable and despicable . Thank you for caring and sharing

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Cruel Justice
Cruel J9 days ago

Lolita and the dolphins at SeaQuarium were left too. We are a despicable species.

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HEIKKI R
HEIKKI R9 days ago

THANK YOU

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Winn A
Winn A10 days ago

Agree with Cathy B

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ellie d
Ellie M10 days ago

ty

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