Derby Lane has highest number of greyhound deaths in the state

By Melissa Eichman, Reporter
Last Updated: Saturday, August 06, 2016, 11:48 AM EDT

To some, greyhound racing is a way of life: place the bets, watch the dogs race and hope for a win.

  • Derby Lane has highest number of greyhound deaths
  • 49 greyhounds have died at the track since 2013
  • Advocates are trying to get legislation passed to protect the dogs

Greg Morse loves the breed so much, he works with them as a helper at Derby Lane. He even adopted five greyhounds from the track.

“They’re gracious, elegant when they run," said Morse. "They’re just like poetry in motion."

But not all dogs finish their races, some get hurt or even die.

Carey Theil is a greyhound advocate with Grey2K USA and is pushing for legislation to protect the dogs.

"This is one of the dog industry's dirty little secrets, every three days a dog is dying at a Florida race track," said Theil.

State records show Derby Lane has the highest number of deaths of any Florida track. The track in St. Petersburg is the second largest track in the state. There have been 49 deaths at Derby Lane since Florida started keeping records in 2013. Five dogs died in a ten-day period in March of 2016. Daytona Beach Kennel Club, the largest track in the state had the second most deaths, reporting at least 40 since 2013.

Derby Lane issued this statement via email:

“Only a very small of percentage of greyhounds are injured. An even smaller percentage are actually lost due to injuries that cut short the career of these beautiful athletes. Greyhounds are not forced to run, they love to run. Derby Lane is one of the safest tracks in the country, and we strive to maintain it so these athletes can do what they love.”

Video from Mac’s Keira’s race shows her hitting the rail, flipping and falling. The one-year-old broke her leg and was euthanized. Her death, like all greyhound deaths in Florida must be reported, that prompts an investigation. Theil is concerned about the lack of consequences.

Morse stands up for the racing community, saying the dogs are treated like family.

“Unfortunate circumstances that some of them do get hurt and it kills me,” said Morse. “I’ll cry for three or four days if a dog gets hurt and it happens that you have to euthanize it, they’re my family.”

"From our perspective this is an industry that's cruel and inhumane," said Theil.

The dogs are family to some and in the middle of a sport where the payoff is still up for debate.