Animal rights | Gov’t support last hurdle in race to save greyhounds

Albano Martins

Enlisting the coercive power of the government to force the Macau (Yat Yuen) Canidrome to surrender their racing greyhounds is now the final hurdle for Anima (Macau) in securing the animals’ safe retirement.

Following confirmation last week from Portugal’s Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development that the country is open to accepting some 650 greyhounds from the Canidrome, Anima (Macau) president Albano Martins said all that remains is to secure the help of the MSAR government.

The animal rights activist was in Portugal last month, where he met a government minister to discuss a special exemption to animal import regulations. Usually, it is only possible to import a maximum of seven animals at a time, he told the Times, which would make it too costly to arrange the transportation of 650 dogs.

“I was told before that Portugal would not permit [the import of] so many animals […] but on January 11, I received a letter from the cabinet of the Minister of Agriculture, Forestry and Rural Development explaining the conditions for [their import],” Martins told the Times yesterday.

“The answer was very clear: once blood tests, vaccines and certificates are [arranged], there will be no obstruction to their import.”

“Now all we need is for the Canidrome to release the dogs. This will become likely if the Canidrome is forced to [release them] by the government,” he said. “We will try to convince the Secretary for Economy and Finance to ask the Canidrome not to kill the animals.”

The Canidrome facility has been under pressure since it came to light in 2015 that around 30 injured greyhounds were euthanized there each month. Activists blame the state of Macau’s racing track, which they consider inappropriate and harmful to the animals.

The reports, which led to the Macau Canidrome being labeled the worst greyhound-racing center worldwide, soon prompted an international campaign to close the facility, led by local group Anima (Macau).

Martins told the Times yesterday that the Canidrome has been forced to reduce the number of races it holds each week in order to keep the facility operational until the end of its concession period in 2018.

Following an Anima (Macau) campaign last year to obstruct the import of greyhounds to the MSAR, Martins said the facility has been forced to hold fewer races in order to maintain the number and strength of the dogs it currently manages.

With the Canidrome’s ability to import greyhounds severed last year in a major victory for Anima (Macau), Albano Martins claims that fewer races are being held at the facility.
*Data according to figures provided by Anima (Macau).

“If they raced the greyhounds today like they used to [in 2015 and before] with those death rates, then they would run out of dogs before their concessionaire ends in 2018 […] and by the terms of their contract, they need to hold at least 12 races per day,” the animal rights activist explained.

“So they need to reduce the number of days per week [that races are held].”

Martins said a source had told them that “the Canidrome will soon reduce the number of racing days to just two per week.”

Martins also said he welcomes sponsors to help provide funding and accommodation for the dogs, prior to their certification and transportation to Portugal. He said that there are some European organizations that may help with this project, but that finding space for the animals will remain a challenge.

Borba could be greyhound retirement home

Albano Martins revealed this week that he has obtained permission to have the greyhounds sent to Borba, Portugal. After meeting with a Portuguese government minister and a local mayor, Martins said that the favored location for the animals is a site in Portugal’s Borba municipality, located in the District of Évora, which will be converted into a greyhound sanctuary with an area of up to 50 hectares. While they are still considering other potential sites, the association wants the arrangements for the greyhounds finalized before the end of the Canidrome’s government concession in 2018.


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