Greyhound breeders on pins and needles

    Greyhound breeders on pins and needles

    Greyhound breeders invited voters to visit kennels at dog tracks and see firsthand how the dogs are treated, but the state blocked the visits.

    Instead we visited a greyhound farm in rural north Florida.

    The prospect of being out of business has dog breeders on pins and needles.

    Seven days a week, 365 days a year, the Gurley family is up and at work before dawn. They’ve been breeding Greyhounds since 1961.

    Twice a week, they take a dozen or more dogs to a nearby practice track.

    Here, the dogs are eager to chase a lure.

    Rob Gurley says he knows all of his dogs’s names.

    Five of the dogs running this day are in rehab.

    Gurley watches as they run one by one down a short stretch of track.

    “You can watch them this way, and for the most part see if something is wrong or not,” said Gurley.

    This year, voters will decide whether Greyhound racing is banned in Florida.

    Supporters of Amendment 13 call it a cruel business.

    “On average, a dog dies at a Flordia track every three days,” said Kate MacFall with Yes on 13. "We know they are confined, these are words from the industry, between 20 and 23 hours a day.”

    The Gurley’s say there’s nothing cruel about what they do.

    "That’s one of our big jobs here is to rehab the dogs,” said Gurley.

    Gene Gurley says it makes no sense to treat the animals with anything but love and respect.

    “If you were raising corn, if you don’t fertilize it, weed it, water it, you’re not going to make much corn,” said Gurley. "And it’s the same principle on anything like this.”

    Right now, there are about 130 dogs here.

    Usually there would be more, but they’ve stopped breeding until they know what happens November 6.

    The amendment gives track owners until 2020 to phase out the sport, but the amendment also says there’s no penalty for stopping dog racing January 1.

    In Florida, as many as 8,000 dogs could be out of work.

    Breeders say there is not viable plan to find them homes.

    Yes on 13 counters that just as many dogs will need a new home is racing remains because the racing life of a dog is two to three years.

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