The operator of the city’s greyhound racetrack – Macau (Yat Yuen) Canidrome Co. Ltd. – said on its website Wednesday that “it is not an easy task” to find new “suitable” homes for the about 600 greyhounds or to arrange for them to be adopted.
The company said that during the past several weeks it has handed the city’s various animal protection organisations over 1,000 application forms for greyhound adoptions, adding that it has so far only received back one application form. The company went on to quote official statistics as saying that some 200 dogs were adopted in Macau annually on average in recent years.
The website also said that the company, as “a responsible employer needing to ensure the employment of its staff”, needed to continue its dog-racing business rather than simply stopping it two years ago – when the government told the company to vacate the racetrack within two years – and using “the two-year time” to arrange for all the dogs to be adopted or relocated.
The Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM) said in a statement on Monday that it was studying a proposal submitted by the racetrack operator last week about its relocation plan for the dogs.
According to previous local media reports, the racetrack houses about 650 greyhounds. Local animal protection society ANIMA has offered to ship the greyhounds to a canine shelter in Portugal.
According to the Monday statement, the racetrack company submitted the proposal last Friday, which includes adoptions and also relocating the greyhounds to somewhere outside Macau “in collaboration with organisations on the mainland”.
In July 2016, the government told the racetrack operator to vacate the property in Fai Chi Kei, a public land concession, within two years. The company’s concession to run greyhound racing will expire on July 20. The company is headed by gaming executive-cum-lawmaker Angela Leong On Kei, the number-four wife of retired nonagenarian gaming mogul Stanley Ho Hung Sun.
According to the proposal submitted last Friday, the company wants to use the Fai Chi Kei racetrack for three additional months, so that it can relocate the dogs, including moving some of them to available spaces in the stables at the Taipa horse-racing venue run by the Macau Jockey Club (MJC), which Leong also heads, and housing them there temporarily, according to the Monday statement.
The racetrack operator initially submitted its greyhound relocation plan on May 31 as required by the government. The proposal included the possibility of adoptions and moving the greyhounds to “foreign” countries. But the company stated in the proposal that it would need one year to handle the relocation. In response, the government then told the racetrack operator that it would not accept the request, according to previous local media reports.
In response, the government then told the company to submit another proposal by last Friday.
IACM President Jose Fonseca Tavares told reporters last week that the government thought that both options mentioned in the first relocation plan proposal – adoptions and moving the greyhounds to “foreign” countries – were “feasible”.
The company said on its website yesterday that it did not have the intention to delay vacating the Fai Chi Kei racetrack when it requested the government to allow it to use the property for an additional one year or three months to get the greyhounds’ relocation off the ground, adding that it made the request after “taking various factors into consideration”.
The website said that as the government has still not come up with its final development plan for the plot where the racetrack is located, the company, therefore, wants the government to allow it to continue to use the property for a while, so that it can better handle the dogs’ relocation.
The website noted that the company has extensive experience in taking care of retired racing greyhounds, adding that it would be better for the dogs to wait for adoption in the Fai Chi Kei racetrack that “they are familiar with”. The website said that this arrangement would allow the dogs to keep “physically and mentally” healthy.
The company also said on its website that it plans to hold an event from June 17 to 24 at the racetrack for the retired racing greyhounds to be adopted, in conjunction with the city’s various animal protection groups and enthusiasts.