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Florida’s Minimum Wage Hike, Miami Seaquarium Animal Deaths, Hounds & Heroes

A photo of a veteran kissing a greyhound
Courtesy of Hounds & Heroes
Hounds & Heroes is a non-profit organization in Boynton Beach that has taken on the task of re-training greyhound racing dogs and giving them an opportunity to become service dogs for veterans.

On this, Wednesday, September 29, episode of Sundial. 

Florida’s Minimum Wage Hike 

The minimum wage in Florida will go up to $10 an hour, starting Thursday.

It will continue to rise over the years until it reaches $15 by 2026, according to the constitutional amendment approved by voters statewide last November.

WLRN is committed to providing South Florida with trusted news and information. As the pandemic continues, our mission is as vital as ever. Your support makes it possible. Please donate today. Thank you.

In the latest episode of WLRN’s podcast Tallahassee Takeover, reporter Danny Rivero explains how we got here: Years ago, state lawmakers wanted to block cities from setting their own minimum wage … and their plan backfired.

Find more about the podcast series here.

Florida’s Minimum Wage Hike
People protest for a $15 minimum wage in New York City in 2017.

Miami Seaquarium Animal Deaths 

Five bottlenose dolphins and one sea lion died at the Miami Seaquarium between 2019 and 2020.

“The deaths were highly unusual even compared with other larger marine parks in the country,” said Miami Herald reporter Adriana Brasileiro.

Marine parks like the Seaquarium are not required to make this data public but they are required to notify the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, which is responsible for managing the inventory of captive marine mammals in the country.

The information became available only after PETA, or People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals, requested the information and published it. They’re asking for answers and have said the deaths of these animals reflect the conditions they are kept in.

“The infrastructure at the Seaquarium is not the best out there when compared with other parks,” said Brasileiro.

Animal rights activists are calling for the release of all the creatures being held at the marine park.

Read more of Brasileiro’s reporting here.

Miami Seaquarium Animal Deaths

Hounds & Heroes 

Greyhound racing came to a halt in Florida at the beginning of this year.

Now, some of those retired dogs are getting a second opportunity — serving veterans.

Hounds & Heroes is a non-profit organization in Boynton Beach that has taken on the task of re-training these dogs, to take them from the track and into the homes of those who could use their help.

They start with allowing the dog to choose its handler, not the other way around. Then, they ask the veteran to make a wishlist of things they want their dog to help them with.

“For example, nightmare mitigation, with PTSD. Well, are you going to come up swinging with your hands or do you come up kicking? That makes a difference because we're going to train the dog to mitigate those nightmares, but if you come up swinging, we'll teach the dog to wake you at your feet — that way the dog doesn't get hurt,” said Andrew Laney, a volunteer dog trainer with the organization and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

Laney is on his second service greyhound dog, named Nascar. The first one he had was named Captain, and died of cancer.

“We now have 12 dogs in training that are ready to be matched up to veterans and we need more applications from veterans. And also we donate the dog. We do not charge you anything,” said Barbara Masi, who is the founder and president of Hounds & Heroes.

Hounds & Heroes
Andrew Laney is a volunteer dog trainer with Hounds & Heroes and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran.

Leslie Ovalle Atkinson is the former lead producer behind Sundial. As a multimedia producer, she also worked on visual and digital storytelling.