Coronavirus pandemic shuts the door permanently at Florida dog track

Coronavirus pandemic shuts the door permanently at Florida dog track

Greyhounds race by at the Sanford Orlando Kennel Club in Longwood, FL on Thursday, July 26, 2018. (Photo by Scott McIntyre For The Washington Post via Getty Images) LONGWOOD, Fla. – There was supposed to be ceremony. The last of the dogs would trickle out to happily live new lives with adoption agencies and new owners. There was supposed to be tears. Owners would sweep the dust and dirt from empty kennels and turn off the lights. For the very last time. Those who worked at Sanford Orlando Kennel Club knew the end was coming. Floridians voted overwhelmingly in 2018 to ban the sport of greyhound racing, and all 11 of the state’s tracks were on a path to closure. For years dog trainers, handlers and owners had battled anti-racing activists. They lost. And they made plans for how they would leave the only life they had ever known. But a new enemy appeared, and it would make that inevitable end come more swiftly. And most of all, without ceremony. Even Florida’s most rough-and-tumble, who stood day after day in the beating sun and pounding rain, who lived with dirt under their nails, couldn’t escape the virus. RELATED: Hundreds of greyhounds looking for homes after coronavirus shuts down Florida dog tracks The COVID-19 pandemic forced the state to prohibit crowds and gatherings of any kind. That meant gamblers could no longer congregate at the track’s restaurant for cheeseburgers, fries or cheesesteaks. The word got out in late March. Sanford Orlando Kennel Club had planned to stay open until June, but the track would have to close by March 28. When that Saturday came, it didn’t seem like the end. The sun was high, and the sky was blue. The conditions were good, a perfect day for a race. The […]

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