| Move likely to
save dogs, majority of which came from Australia, from death or inhumane
Authorities in Macau, the
worlds largest gambling hub, will care for more than 600 greyhounds after
their owner renounced them ahead of the closure of Chinas only dog-racing
track on Saturday.
The move is likely to save former Australian racing
dogs, which were exported to Macau in huge numbers and faced an uncertain fate
when the track closes.
The Macau Canidrome has been the subject of a
long dispute between government officials in the Chinese territory, animal
rights activists and one of the enclaves most well-known businesswomen,
Angela Leong, the fourth wife of billionaire gaming magnate Stanley Ho.
Leong, a long-standing Macau politician and executive director of Yat
Yuen, the company that operated the Canidrome Club, has been criticised by
animal rights groups.
The track is notorious for its cruel conditions
and high death rates. Rescue groups say dogs are kept in poor conditions in a
concrete compound, often in scorching temperatures while suffering skin
conditions and untreated injuries.
Yat Yuen has repeatedly rejected
cruelty claims and declined requests for comment.
The Macau government
said late on Thursday that Yat Yuen had failed to provide a responsible
solution for the dogs despite knowing since early 2016 that the companys
lease would expire.
Yat Yuen has been delaying the handling and
placement of the greyhound dogs. The care of the dogs has been in an uncertain
state, causing public anxiety and social problems, the government said on
The government said the company would be punished under
the Animal Protection Act and that authorities would ensure the greyhounds
received adequate care. It did not elaborate on the condition of the dogs.
Exporting dogs to Macau was banned by greyhound industry body
Greyhounds Australasia in 2013, after significant concerns were raised about
animal welfare standards.
But the Australian government has continued
to issue permits for dogs to be exported to Macau, despite the industrys
Guardian Australia reported earlier this year that the
government had approved the export of 590 greyhounds to Macau in the two years
after the territory was blacklisted by the racing industry.
operating in Australia have turned profits from buying up unwanted racing dogs
in Australia and selling them to Macau to continue racing. Late last year three
Australians were found to have shipped 96 dogs to the Canidrome track.
The Macau-based animal welfare group Anima has spoken out about the
number of Australian dogs at the track and expressed concern about their fate
after the track closed. It said Australia had traditionally been the chief
supplier of greyhounds to the Canidrome.
In the 54 years of this
around 360 greyhounds per year were bought mainly in New South
Wales, and only eight were placed for adoptions in all these 54 years
after 2012, when we began to fight them, the Anima president, Albano
Martins, told Guardian Australia earlier this year.
Anima had joined
other animal rights groups to save the remaining dogs before the Canidrome
closed. They feared the dogs would be killed or sent to underground tracks in
mainland China, where greyhound racing is illegal.
The closure of the
dog track marks the end of yet another of the often grubby old-time gambling
businesses that long defined Macau before the arrival of luxury casinos.
Martins, who has been a key figure in fighting for the greyhounds
release, said his organisation was ready to assist the government to help find
homes for the dogs.
If I was the government, I should not be
happy with that irresponsible decision taken for saving money, he said.
This only means what we have said for so long the Canidrome just
cares for money.