SARASOTA, Fla — Voters spoke loud and clear in November when 69 percent said they wanted greyhound racing banned. Animal advocates came out in force saying the dogs were being mistreated. Kennel owners say voters were misled.
Racetracks can keep racing greyhounds until the end of next year, but one area greyhound racing track isn’t waiting until then.
After 75 years, the Sarasota Kennel Club will end greyhound racing this weekend.
“I’ll miss it a lot and all the memories I had with my father and mother here. For 34 years I’ve been coming here,” says Jack O’Brian. By chance, he is vacationing in Sarasota the same weekend the track will close for good.
“It’s going to be sad, a lot of people will lose their jobs,” says Thomas Bowersox, director of racing. He has worked at the Sarasota Kennel Club for nearly 60 years. “It’s something we didn’t want to see happen, but it’s the wish of the people and here we are.”
Bowersox says 100 people will be without a job when greyhound racing ends this Saturday.
Kennel owner and trainer Debra Lynn and her 100 dogs will head to the panhandle and race there until the last day it’s legal: New Year’s Eve 2020.
Linn says, “It makes me angry people assume we don’t take care of them. These are what feeds us, why not take care of them? They only run their best when you do give them good care.”
State inspectors check dogs before every race including weight and their identifying tattoo.
When their racing days are over, some greyhounds will go race in other states and others like 2-year-old Hay Maker will be adopted.
“Very sweet dog,” says Linn. Hay Maker already has a home waiting for him.
As for her future, Linn doesn’t know.
“I don’t know what I’ll do with my life. I’m 50 years old and been doing this for 32 years. This is all I know, this is it.”
And those who love to see them race will have to watch on TV.
O’Brian says, “It’ll be sad to see it close. “Nice to know I was here the final day.”
Sarasota Kennel Club will renovate the Miss Whirl Club building and continue showing live simulcast of greyhound and horse racing, and its One Eye Jack Poker room will remain open. They will open a new facility near the interstate in two years.
The Sarasota Kennel Club property is under contract. The new owner plans to build an assisted living facility with services for Alzheimer patients and veterans.
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