On Thursday night, Bug Brush was the last dog to cross the finish line first at the greyhound contests in Florida. The race was held at Palm Beach Kennel Club in West Palm where at midnight on Christmas Eve the greyhound champion formally brought closure to the sport in Florida for good.
Florida’s Last Greyhound Champion Parades with “My Way” by Frank Sinatra
Florida was the state with the largest greyhound racing base and the biggest fandom for the sport. However, in 2018 the state voted and approved Amendment 13, which prohibits greyhound races in Florida, starting from 2021. Only four tracks for dog racing in three states remain active — West Virginia, Iowa, and Arkansas.
Tracks in Texas and Alabama also closed down. Another Florida track, Derby Lane in St. Petersburg also closed on Sunday. Iowa and Arkansas have also declared that the greyhound racing may have run its course for them as well.
In the 1980s there were more than 60 dog tracks across the U.S. However, in the past couple of years, there has been a serious decline and perhaps dog racing is “no longer for this world” according to the president of Palm Beach Kennel Club, Patrick Rooney Jr., whose family owns the track since 1969.
The last $10 000 Long Championship in Florida ended on Christmas Eve. Frank Sinatra’s “My Way” played as the final run came to an end and Bug Brush became the last winner at West Palm Beach track with 88 years of racing history.
Jim Gartland, the executive director of the National Greyhound Association, stated that there may come a time when greyhounds won’t race in America. He also said that although he hates to admit it he sees the possibility of that happening as early as in the next five or ten years.
Animal Rights Activists against Dog Racing
Co-founder of the anti-racing group GREY2K, Christine Dorchak stated that there are now 41 states with laws against the sport and her group is aiming for federal legislation against dog racing.
For a long time, animal rights activists have been opposing greyhound racing due to the lifestyle of the dogs, stating they suffer from having to live in cramped spaces and inhumane working conditions. According to Rooney any business involved with animals is going to have the struggle to survive due to society’s new standards. He referred to horse racing and rodeos as the next in line to go extinct.
Even without the animal activism, the sport has seen a major decline over the past decade. Last year dog tracks made over $135.9 million which is a 29% decline from the previous year when it was 191.5 million. This was its eighth consecutive year of decline in wages.