By Jennifer Cullen - GPA/EC
North Florida has always had its share of greyhounds.
Northwest Florida is promoted by our tourism department as 'The Other Florida' and is quite different than the southern areas of the state. In fact, we were hailed asthe 'Redneck Riviera' for years in newspapers by our adjacent states. As that implies, the tourist crowd up here is a bit different than Palm Beach
or the Magic Kingdom! But, like the rest of the state, we share greyhound racing. As in tourism, our perspective of greyhound racing is a bit different too. Ebro was known as a puppy track for years and there are still some people who prefer to break in pups here before sending them to other tracks. But primarily, the tracks through N FL have become the grade-off tracks, taking in dogs who fail to make the competition elsewhere.
Some are very young pups that fail to school well and others are racing
veterans,coming in from Tri-State, Wheeling, Daytona, the Gulf, Southland and
many other tracks. There is a wide range of diversity and ability...and a
lot of dogs grading off.
Our group, GPA/EC was originally two separate entities. GPA/EC was started in Pensacola and focused on the PE track. Another group, Valentine Adoption was formed by myself and the assistance of a trainer at Ebro. We focused on Ebro dogs. In 2002, we combined efforts. The consolidation seemed to put the best use of resources to work for both tracks. Immediately, we were able to see the efforts pay off and the now expanded GPA/EC immediately went to work to haul dogs out with our own equipment and drivers and continue with local
In 2004, several things happened. We could see that we were expanding and
the number of dogs that we hauled out to adoption groups was increasing-this
was a good thing. Local adoption was up,more members were becoming involved.
Things looked very promising.
And then Ivan struck.
Suddenly, PE and many other tracks were facing a different twist on getting dogs to adoption groups. We were all coping with adoptions and trying to get our lives back to normal after the storms. RaceForAdoption stepped in and offered the t-shirt drive which boosted funds for our hauls. Before Ivan, we felt we had a comfortable level of funds and could handle the day to day operations of adoption - any extra medical care needed, the insurance, gas, maintenance of our GPA van and hauler. Post-Ivan, without RaceForAdoption, we couldn't have made all
the trips and taken in the extra dogs that were left without a job due to the storm.
We have closed out 2004 but we are still trying to get the last dogs that are at Pensacola into groups. Pensacola has started schooling and is set to reopen soon, Ebro has begun its 2005 meet. During 2004, we spent approx. $30,000 in hauling expenses alone. We have an on-going boarding contract so
that we can take dogs from Pensacola and house them during their surgeries or injury recuperation. Both of these expenses are not recoverable in our adoption fee, we depend on donations to keep these projects going.