The operator of the city’s former greyhound racetrack – Macau (Yat Yuen) Canidrome Co. Ltd. – and local animal protection group Anima have inked a deal for the relocation of the racing dogs left behind at the Fai Chi Kei racetrack.
Under the agreement, Yat Yuen will rent a vacant building in Pac On in Taipa for the setting-up of an “international” greyhound adoption centre – where the company plans to move the dogs left behind at the racetrack – which will then be operated by Anima.
The greyhound relocation plan, jointly announced by the two entities at a hotel in Taipa on Friday, will only be able to go ahead after getting the green light from the government.
The Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM) said in a statement last Friday night that it considered a greyhound relocation proposal submitted by Yat Yuen on Thursday – which proposes to relocate the dogs left behind at the Fai Chi Kei racetrack to a vacant building on a privately-owned plot of land in Pac On – to be “feasible after a preliminary examination” of the proposal.
Yat Yuen’s proposal to relocate the greyhounds to Pac On was first revealed in an IACM statement last Thursday, according to which Yat Yuen has applied to take back the greyhounds left at the racetrack’s kennels so that it can relocate the dogs.
Yat Yuen had not relocated the majority of its greyhounds before the official closure of the Fai Chi Kei racetrack on July 20 and simply left them there. Consequently, the bureau was forced to intervene in the matter, taking over the racetrack’s kennels and looking after the greyhounds. Several local animal protection groups have been assisting the bureau in taking care of the canines.
The bureau has said that 533 greyhounds were left behind at the racetrack’s kennels.
After the bureau confirmed at midnight on July 20 the abandonment of the greyhounds by Yat Yuen, it ordered the company to take back the dogs within seven working days. Otherwise the company would have been officially regarded as having abandoned the dogs and it would also have been fined between 20,000 and 100,000 patacas for each abandoned dog, according to the Animal Protection Law.
According to last Thursday’s IACM statement, Yat Yuen says in its relocation plan that the building in Pac On will still need to be renovated before the greyhounds can be suitably housed there. In its application, the company says that it is, therefore, asking the bureau to give it an additional 60 days before taking back the greyhounds left at the Fai Chi Kei racetrack, the statement said. The company pledged that it will take back “all the greyhounds” and house them in the building in Pac On when its renovation is completed, the statement said.
According to last Friday’s IACM statement, the bureau has told Yat Yuen that it must meet a raft of requirements – which aim to ensure that the greyhounds will be properly taken care of in the new shelter – to be permitted the 60-day extension it has requested.
Last Friday’s IACM statement said that the bureau ordered Yat Yuen last Friday to reply by today as to whether it agrees with the bureau’s requirements so that the 60-day extension can be approved.
During a press conference jointly hosted by the two entities last Friday at Regency Art Hotel in Taipa, Anima President Albano Martins said that the greyhounds to be housed in the future Pac On shelter – International Centre for the Re-homing of Greyhounds (Macau) – cannot be adopted by people from the mainland as it still does not have an animal protection law.
During the press conference, lawmaker-cum-gaming executive Angela Leong On Kei, the executive director of Yat Yuen, claimed that her company had never changed its promise to look after the greyhounds for the rest of their life. She said that her company’s plan to set up the adoption centre was an act to fulfil its promise and a matter of “social responsibility”.
During the press conference, some details about the setting-up and facilities of the greyhound adoption centre were released by a Yat Yuen media representative.
According to the media representative, Yat Yuen will rent a building with an outdoor area at Largo de Pac On for the setting-up of the centre. It will be set up in line with the international standards for taking care of greyhounds, which, according to the media representative, will have better conditions than the Fai Chi Kei racetrack kennels.
The media representative said that Yat Yuen would need at least 60 days to renovate the building so that the shelter can be set up in line with the international standards.
Leong pledged that Yat Yuen will cover all the costs for the operation of the greyhound adoption centre by Anima. Leong also said that she has always “loved” the Canidrome’s greyhounds, pledging that her company will look after unadopted greyhounds for their lifetime.
Leong said that Yat Yuen only announced the location for the relocation of the greyhounds now as her company needed time to study different greyhound relocation proposals suggested by various animal protection groups in and outside Macau. She stressed that her company had been constantly studying the feasibility of the various proposals.
Leong also said she believed that there is no other venue in the world that has over 500 greyhounds except the Canidrome’s racetrack.
Leong said that during the past three years Yat Yuen did not import any greyhounds. She also said that during the period some 300 dogs in the Fai Chi Kei racetrack could no longer race and that her company had been looking after them at the racetrack.
Leong said that “hundreds of empty words are less meaningful than just one concrete action.”
According to government-owned broadcaster TDM’s Portuguese-language radio channel, it will cost about 25 million patacas to run the Pac On shelter.
Radio Macau quoted Martins as saying that Anima will manage the shelter for two years, after which it would continue as an animal shelter. Martins also said the monthly rental amounted to 800,000 patacas a month.
The radio station also said that Leong promised to set up a greyhound protection fund and to set up a joint association with Anima to run the shelter, a three-storey abandoned factory building on a 4,000-square-metre plot of land.
During the press conference, Martins repeatedly expressed gratitude to Leong for her company’s efforts to house the retired greyhounds. He also urged civil society not to criticise Leong for [her perceived failure to properly handle the relocation of the dogs]. He said Leong had tried her best for the fate of the greyhounds.