The last Daytona greyhound was adopted on May 15 thanks to a group effort.
The greyhounds are all gone.
If that sounds ominous, it’s just the opposite.
On March 20 the Daytona Beach Racing & Card Club suspended dog racing and immediately set about the task of finding 570 greyhounds new homes.
Mission accomplished, according to Fred Guzman, who is president of the gambling facility.
“During our planning, we had a worst-case scenario that it would take us six to seven months to adopt the greyhounds out,” Guzman said. “Thankfully, it didn’t turn out that way.”
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The last Daytona greyhound was adopted on May 15 thanks to a group effort by Guzman’s team, led by operations director Michael Stringer, and several dog placement agencies, including the local chapter of Box to the Wire Greyhound Adoption Inc.
Guzman’s plan was to make these dogs available to homes across the country.
“We took a national approach to this,” he said. “We reached out to national groups such as the Greyhound Pets of America and the National Greyhound Association.
“The thought was they had the connections nationwide to coordinate our efforts to adopt the greyhounds out. The greyhounds were sent to California, Arizona, Massachusetts and other places across the country.”
In addition to caring for all the animals after dog racing abruptly ended, Guzman said his parent company Delaware North made the commitment to find each dog a safe home, including picking up the tab on travel expenses.
“Our local group here, Box to the Wire, played a pivotal role, too,” Guzman said. “They had their own connections, along with the kennels, which helped move some greyhounds out. It was a team effort between all these groups. Everybody worked well together to get this done.”
LaDonna Hampton heads the local chapter of Box to the Wire.
In a text exchange, Hampton said she was “quite proud” of the quick adoptions.
“It was done very quickly and I am quite proud of the way Greyhound Nation as whole came together to make sure all of the Daytona greyhounds got moved to other groups and into their adoptive homes,” she said.
“It wasn't just us here in the frontline. It was kennel owners, haulers, adoption group volunteers, farm owners; just a huge collective network of greyhound-loving people who made this possible.”
Greyhound racing is Florida will cease to exist on Jan. 1, 2021. Florida voters passed an amendment in 2018 outlawing dog racing.
Daytona Beach was home to greyhound racing for 72 years and Guzman said the club will embrace that history for years to come. Guzman said three dog tracks (Jacksonville, Tampa and West Palm Beach) have remained open in Florida.
Guzman said his company is looking at different options to repurpose the Daytona greyhound track.
“All of our plans were halted because of the COVID-19 pandemic,” he said. “We are committed to the community and we’d love to do something else with the property.”
The Racing & Card Club continues to offer simulcast wagering on greyhounds, harness and thoroughbred racing, plus jai alai.
“And, we have our poker room,” Guzman added. Poker is also offered in Orange City. Both facilities reopened on Monday after a mandatory statewide shutdown of businesses to slow the spread of coronavirus.
Hampton said the Box to the Wire organization will stay active to help find the next round of greyhounds find good homes.
“We are still doing adoptions as we acquire dogs from other tracks in need of placement,” she said. “We will also always be here for our adopters. So long as the greyhound exists as a breed, we will be here to help with home placements.”
Guzman said he is happy all the dogs that were under his care have new homes.
“It’s a relief for me to know that all of our greyhounds are sitting comfortably in someone’s couch,” he said. “We always believed we took good care of them and are happy to know they will have a good life in retirement.”
This story originally published to news-journalonline.com, and was shared to other Florida newspapers in the USA TODAY Network - Florida.