The final day of races at the Sarasota Kennel Club.

If you did not already know, the state of Florida and its voters decided to abolish live greyhound racing by the end of the year 2020. However, the Sarasota Kennel Club is stopping the races a year early. Sadly, this means that greyhound racing comes to an end in Sarasota, Florida


No more races. No more barking dogs as they are led from the kennels to the race track. No more bugle calls.


“Swifty,” the mechanical rabbit that leads the dogs to the finish line, will be gone, too. And with that so will the bevy of bettors who shout out loud for the dog they bet.


This may have been what led thousands of folks to the Sarasota Kennel Club on Saturday, May 4th, 2019. It was a final chance to place one last bet on the dogs and take in the end of a tradition since 1929.


“We’ve been packing everything up and transferring dogs to adoption groups and transferring racers to new destinations,” said kennel owner and trainer Debra Linn. 

“It’s boiling down to this is the end of my life. I don’t’ know what I will do,” she continued. 


Why are They Closing

Amendment 13, that banned live greyhound racing in Florida, passed last fall with nearly 70% of Florida voter support. Tracks can keep greyhounds racing until the end of 2020, but with the end of their season and the availability of dogs running out, Sarasota decided this will be their final run.


“I’ve been here most of my life and it’s kind of a sad deal, but I guess it was the wish of the people. So here we are. There’s not much we can do when the people vote,” said Thomas Bowersox, the director of racing.


Bowersox said the club has been around for 75 years. They’ll still have televised racing, but once live racing is finished, many of their staff will be out of a job.


“I’m sure it’ll be close to 100 that’ll lose their jobs, positions,” he said. 


What Animal Activists are Saying

Animal advocates came out in full force supporting the amendment. Sherry Silk, the president of the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, said dogs were mistreated.


“Do the dogs like to run? Of course, they do. They’re greyhounds. A lot of dogs like to run. They are not a pet. They are not well cared for. They are forced to run in the heat and in any terrible weather conditions,” she said. 


Linn said that’s not the truth.


“They’re well taken care of. A dog that’s not taken care of will not race,” she insisted. “I think the Florida people meant well. I think the activists kind of went over their good hearts and ruined it for everybody,” Linn offered.


The Sarasota Kennel Club will still be open with the poker room and televised races. This is the just first of more closings in the state. It was a good run Sarasota. You stayed around for a really long time. Everyone in the racing community tips their hat to you.


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