BONITA SPRINGS, Fla. - Could live dog racing see its final lap in Florida? A bill making its way through the State House and Senate would put the choice in the hands of track owners.
"Winston" the greyhound's laid back lifestyle is a far cry from his fast-paced, championship racing days.
"He has a happy life," owner Jeffrey Davis said. "That's what they deserve. They deserve a happy life."
Jeffrey and Nadine Davis of Homeward Bound Greyhounds rescued "Winston" and another former racer. Their eyes are now on Tallahassee, fingers crossed, that Senate Bill 1594 and House Bill 1145 pass through to the finish line.
"This is the first time that we've ever heard of the tracks and the rescue groups like us on the same page," Davis said. "They would like to reduce the racing because it's not profitable for them. And of course, we'd like to reduce the racing because we don't like what the dogs are subjected to."
The bill's sponsor said since 1990, state taxes collected for live greyhound racing declined by 96%. The state currently mandates track owners run a certain number of races to maintain card rooms. Passage would give them the choice to eliminate racing, but continue other forms of gambling. The Naples-Fort Myers Greyhound track is in favor of the bill, and if passed, would not eliminate racing, but decrease it by about 75% - a relief to visitors who would be disappointed to see the races go.
"The dog racing gives people a chance to make money," Mauricio Pabon said,
"If they didn't have it here, nobody would come," Tim Zubryky said."It would chop tourism down."
Opponents of the bill worry it could cause job loss and an increase in other types of gambling. If passed, it would go into effect in July.