The government Wednesday stopped Macao (Yat Yuen) Canidrome’s plan to start moving its over 500 greyhounds next to an old people’s home with about 80 residents in Co-loane, saying in a statement that the “temporary facility to house greyhounds” had failed to meet the necessary environmental criteria.
Yat Yuen had reportedly planned to move up to 200 greyhounds to the facility yesterday. The planned relocation of over 500 dogs to a place adjacent to a home for the aged has been criticised by family members of the home’s residents for its perceived lack of respect for the elderly.
According to the statement by the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM), its officials did a site inspection of the facility in Coloane on Tuesday with officials from the Lands, Public Works and Transport Bureau (DSSOPT) and Environmental Protection Bureau (DSPA).
“Yat Yuen temporarily housing greyhounds on a plot of land next to an old people’s home could affect the daily routine of the home’s residents,” the statement said, pointing out that therefore IACM officials carried out an initial evaluation of the facility and its impact on the nearby environment.
The statement said that the IACM officials had initially planned to allow a batch of the 530 greyhounds to move into the facility – where four dogs would share a shipping container as their kennels -yesterday, for an initial assessment of the post-relocation situation.
“[On Tuesday], related departments did a site visit, during which DSPA officials provided some technical opinions regarding the noise and pollution prevention measures used on the site,” the statement said, adding, “The IACM does not see the facility meeting the [required] criteria and therefore decided to cancel the arrangement to move some of the greyhounds there today [yesterday].”
The statement added that IACM had previously requested Yat Yuen set up its greyhound facility in line with legal requirements, especially on certain environmental hygiene and noise issues that must meet the required criteria, before it gave the company a 60-day extension period to let the greyhounds stay in their kennels at the ex-Canidrome in Fai Chi Kei, which officially closed down on July 20.
Yat Yuen then was granted another six-day extension due to damage caused by last month’s Super Typhoon Mangkhut.
“If Yat Yuen fails to make improvements based on the technical opinions from related departments by the deadline [Saturday] and take back their greyhounds [from the ex-Canidrome kennels], the bureau will take legal action in line with the ‘Animal Protection Law’,” the IACM statement said.
IACM President Jose Tavares told reporters on the sidelines of a press conference at Government Headquarters yesterday that if Yat Yuen cannot improve the noise prevention measure, his bureau was ready to continue to look after the greyhounds at the ex-Canidrome, with Yat Yuen having to pay a fine of 20,000 patacas to 100,000 patacas per greyhound.
“The dogs won’t be abandoned, we have some preparations for the worse,” Tavares said.
The arrangement of housing over 500 greyhounds next to the Asilo Vila Madalena retirement home in Coloane has raised noise and hygiene concerns.
Backed by its residents and family members, the Canossian-run home has petitioned several bureaus and Chief Executive Fernando Chui Sai On, begging them to scrap the project.
The home’s director, Sister Ip Pui King, said in a statement yesterday that they saw workers installing what looked like tarpaulins on top of the shipping containers for apparent noise insulation purposes.
“But the elderly here are still very worried, asking how that would be of any help. We can still hear the construction noise when workers are working on the site now, [if it can’t block out that noise] how could it block out the dogs’ noise?” the statement said.
The government had told Yat Yuen two years ago that the racetrack would have to close in July this year. The dog-racing company is headed by gaming executive-cum-legislator Angela Leong On Kei, the fourth wife of nonagenarian gaming mogul Stanley Ho Hung Sun.
Two other greyhound relocation plans previously announced by Leong came to nothing. Leong and local animal rights group Anima are trying to find adopters for the greyhounds overseas.