In 1993, Lee Forzly was at the top of her game.
In a moment that would define her career, Lee watched as her greyhound Robin’s Unicorn snagged second place at the Biscayne Marathon. Right after the race, she scooped the dog into her arms, tears in her eyes.
No one could touch her. Lee says that in her prime, Robin’s Unicorn was the second best racing dog in the world. She insists, however, that her dog was robbed of the No. 1 rank due to typical racing politics.
Lee raised around 3,000 greyhounds throughout Florida during her 10-year career in the industry.
A visit to a track in Orlando with her mom in the early 1980s introduced Lee, now 80, to the world of greyhound racing.
“She wanted me to go to the track with her, and I was obsessed with it,” she says. “I was wondering: why do not all greyhounds make the track?”
This curiosity led Lee to take a deep dive into all things greyhound. Her years of success are marked by the numerous trophies, plaques and photographs scattered throughout her garage-turned-office.
Though Lee has been out of the greyhound business for nearly 10 years, she still supports the sport, particularly as Amendment 13 threatens the future of greyhound racing in the midterm election.
Lee, a registered Republican and resident of LaCrosse for 22 years, plans to vote ‘no’ on the amendment, which calls for a statewide ban on greyhound racing. A ‘yes’ vote would support ban. If Amendment 13 passes with the required 60 percent supermajority vote, it would allow for a 26-month phase out period for greyhound racing.
Lee says no one has provided a clear explanation as to what will happen to the nearly 7,000 greyhounds in Florida’s industry if racing is phased out.
“If they wanted to abolish greyhound racing… OK, OK,” she says. “But, what are you going to do with the animals?”
Lee says she will be voting ‘no’ because she believes there has been no guarantee that the dogs won’t be used for research or shipped out of the country.
The number of greyhounds currently in the circuit tends to fluctuate, says Carey Theil, executive director of GREY2K Worldwide, a greyhound protection organization. He says there are currently about 5,500 greyhounds racing because four of the 13 tracks in Florida aren’t operational.
“There’s overwhelming support for greyhound adoption,” he says. “Adoption agencies are preparing for the end of greyhound racing.”
Larry Torino, a former greyhound trainer, believes it’s in the dogs’ best interest to put them in homes and plans to vote ‘yes’ on Amendment 13.
“The life and lifestyle of a greyhound is better served as a companion in a family environment from day one,” he says.
Torino’s ‘yes’ vote, however, won’t be an easy one.
“Many good people whose lives have evolved around racing greyhounds, be it breeding, rearing and training at the farm level or racing level, and who are an asset and caring will be displaced and their livelihood in shambles unless each has some business interest or skill to fall back on,” he says.
Torino worked with Lee and trained over 100 greyhounds for her over a two-year period. They disagree on Amendment 13, but respect one another.
Lee remembers everything about her dogs’ racing styles and their unique personalities. She says she loved each and every dog as if it were her own child.
“The whole secret is, I don’t know whether they needed me or I needed them,” she said.