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Here’s how you can help former racing dogs that need to be adopted in Florida

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As many as 15,000 dogs could need homes

Greyhound Racing In Australia Photo by Vince Caligiuri/Getty Images

An amendment to the state constitution in Florida will outlaw greyhound racing by the year 2020, leading to thousands of animals needing homes. Amendment 13 passed 69-31 on Tuesday night as part of the midterms elections, easily beating the 60 percent threshold needed to turn it into law. Now groups are working tirelessly to ensure racing dogs are able to find forever homes by the time the law comes into effect.

Florida is the nation’s biggest hotbed for greyhound racing, housing 11 of the country’s 17 remaining tracks. Estimates provided by ESPN’s John Barr indicate there are 8,000 active racing dogs in the state, as well as another 7,000 currently in training. These animals won’t all be released at once, as racetracks will wind down operations over the next year, but the massive influx of animals needing to be adopted will take a coordinated effort to ensure none are neglected in the shift.

Greyhound racing’s popularity has waned in recent years. In the early 1990s it was estimated that dog tracks brought in an $3.5 billion a year, which has fallen to $500 million today. The decrease in popularity is in part due to the often barbaric treatment of animals. Florida resident and amendment 13 advocate Sonia Stratemann has adopted over 2,000 animals since 2003, hundreds of which suffered broken bones, chronic pain, and evidence of mistreatment. In an ESPN report, she outlined one incident in which she saved a dog that suffered a broken leg that was laying on the track without any attention, because it was the owner’s intention to kill the animal.

“We saw the bone sticking out of the skin,” Stratemann says, recalling the first time she saw Bart at the veterinarian. “They didn’t treat him with anything because they were taking him in to kill him.”

The process of winding down the tracks and finding animals homes will take some time. However, if you’re interested in adopting a greyhound there are numerous organizations operating inside Florida you can contact.