Greyhound racing in Florida officially ends tonight

Greyhound racing in Florida is coming to an end.

According to the Tampa Bay Times, the very last race in the state will happen at Palm Beach Kennel Club on New Year’s Eve at 11:59 p.m.

Earlier this year, many of Florida's greyhound racing tracks shut down sooner than expected due to the coronavirus pandemic, leaving many greyhounds needing homes quickly. 

Mitch Cohen with the Sanford Orlando Kennel Club told FOX 35 back in March that about 475 of those greyhounds were at his facility. 

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The organization Awesome Greyhound Adoptions put out a call on Facebook for people to step up and foster some of the dogs until they can find permanent homes. 

Back in 2018, Florida voters approved an amendment that will phase out live greyhound races statewide by 2021. Nine Florida racing tracks have already ended the practice. The two remaining tracks reportedly have about 1,200 dogs. 

A judge rejected a challenge to the ban earlier this year. A lawsuit filed by the industry group Support Working Animals, Inc., and individual plaintiffs raised a series of issues under the U.S. Constitution, including that the ballot measure, known as Amendment 13, has led to an improper "taking" of property without adequate compensation.

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However, Chief U.S. District Judge Mark Walker dismissed the lawsuit in a 55-page ruling.

"Through Amendment 13, Florida has prohibited plaintiffs’ property from being used in a particular manner that the state has determined to be contrary to the health, morals, or safety of the community," Walker wrote. "Whether Amendment 13’s purpose was to protect the health and welfare of racing dogs or to prohibit wagering on dog races, Amendment 13 is a legitimate exercise of Florida’s police power."

Florida will join the majority of the country outlawing dog racing as it has become less popular over the years and concern about the animal's welfare has grown.

To inquire about adopting a greyhound, you can contact one of the following rescues: 

The News Service of Florida contributed to this report