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While controversy surrounds Florida greyhound racing, the sport is quietly fading away


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  • Photo by Jeremy Reper

McAllister, as was reported, was once referred to as a "patriarch" of the industry by a Derby Lane executive. But because of this cocaine-related scandal, McAllister's license has been permanently revoked.

At the Sanford Orlando Kennel Club in Longwood, no one is complaining about losing money from the races they put on, because they're different from other racing outlets – they don't just put on the greyhound races because they have to, but actively want to do so. They don't do other gambling and they take pride in how they say they take care of their dogs.

Kennel Club general manager Mitch Cohen is eager to dispel what he says are common myths about his industry.

"The perception is totally wrong," he says. "We have a no-kill policy, no putting down the dogs. We have a 100 percent adoption rate."

He says they have recently upgraded their facilities as well to make it safer for the dogs, such as adding a safety lure to make sure the dogs don't collide. The lure is typically a stuffed animal with a mechanical arm pulling it around the track, enticing the dogs to follow it and continue around the track.

Cohen repeatedly stresses that the dog racing he practices at the Kennel Club is "100 percent safe and responsible." He says if a dog is hurt, they do their best to make sure the dog gets proper care and surgery if needed, picking up a "large portion" of the bill with the trainers.

  • Photo by Jeremy Reper

"We treat these dogs like family," Cohen says.

And after the dog is adopted, Cohen says they're usually very happy.

"They turn into big couch potatoes when they're done," he says.

He dismisses some attacks from anti-racing organizations against his Kennel Club, saying they may not understand what goes on there in regards to ensuring the dogs are taken care of.

And when it came to the dogs themselves, Cohen speaks of them with a misty-eyed reverence.

"When a retired greyhound comes back after they've been gone, and they hear a lure, their ears perk up," he says. "They want to be with their old friends back on the track."