Published 9/9 by WPBF News
More than 6,000 dogs may be in need of a home after an amendment passed in Florida banning greyhound racing. But families looking to adopt outside the state now have a free ticket to get their new fur baby brought to their doorstep.
"We have had so many people reach out, offering to actually transport," Elite Greyhound Adoptions President Sonia Stratemann told WPBF 25 News.
Stratemann has helped more than 2,300 dogs find homes over the years. Many of them still have the scars or injuries they got while on the track.
"This guy broke his leg racing at Palm Beach and the trainer dumped him off at a blood bank," Stratemann said. "He was there for two years living in solitary."
Since Florida residents voted to pass Amendment 13, Stratemann has received more than 100 calls from people interested in adopting a retired hound. Many of the calls came from individuals living outside the state.
"Mass breeding will stop. Injuries will stop. Confinement will stop. It's amazing," Stratemann said. "I never thought this day would come."
There are many transportation services that will take the hounds to rescues. Victory Lap Greyhound Transportation, or VLAP, based in Pennsylvania, is one of them. President and founder Lisa Paulson created the volunteer program to shuttle former racing dogs to their new adoptive families anywhere in the country. The program is called A Ticket Home.
"As animal lovers, we, the community, need to come together to help. This can't be done by any one individual," Paulson said. "There are a lot of dogs that will need to be transported throughout the country. This is a huge task and it will involve the help and dedication of many."
VLAP's bus has been outfitted with 14 crates that can haul up to 26 hounds and four passengers.
All greyhounds are transported in a fully insured, climate-controlled environment and they are under constant supervision of volunteers, all of whom are trained in canine CPR and first aid.
The shuttle bus has traveled over 20,000 miles, assisted 14 adoption groups and hauled over 250 dogs since 2017.
Now that the racing ban has passed, Paulson said she expects transportation requests to go up significantly.
"I think it's the best thing that ever happened for these dogs," Stratemann said. "They finally can get off the track, out of the crates unto couches. It's incredible."
The ban does not immediately go into effect, and tracks across the state have until 2020 to phase out dog racing.
For more information about Victory Lap Greyhound Transport’s commitment to the hounds, click here.
To purchase “A Ticket Home," click here.