Greyhound advocates and animal lovers around the world turned their attention to Macau this week to once again decry the treatment of greyhounds at the Canidrome, after animal welfare organization Anima Macau challenged company representatives to a public debate over the merits of keeping the racing track open.
The treatment of greyhounds on what international observers are calling “the world’s deadliest greyhound racetrack” is an issue that has drawn considerable attention from Europe.
A group known as Stop Exportation of Greyhounds from Ireland to China is campaigning to prevent Irish greyhounds from being sent to the Canidrome. As many as 800 greyhounds are suspected to be housed there and more than 30 are killed each month.
It recently emerged that exports of Irish greyhounds are beginning to fill the gap in the market created by the fact that Qantas and Cathay Pacific airlines decided not to freight the animals to Hong Kong.
The reception from Europe has been overwhelmingly in favor of the Canidrome’s closure. An article from the Times uploaded yesterday to the website was flooded with comments from around the world, calling for “an end to this needless cruelty” and shaming the Canidrome for not agreeing to participate in the debate.
Simultaneous protests were held in Dublin yesterday and outside the Embassy of Ireland in London, organized by the Campaign for the Abolition of Cruel Sports, while a second group, the Irish Council Against Blood Sports, conducted a separate lunchtime demonstration outside Ireland’s Department of Agriculture.
Over the weekend, protests will be held in other European countries, including Italy and Germany.
A petition hosted on www.change.org, calling for the closure of the complex, also picked up momentum this week and has now collected over 355,000 signatures as of last night.
The petition, which is led by local Anima Macau President Albano Martins, will be presented to the Department of Agriculture in Dublin during an additional demonstration planned for June 2 in the Irish capital.
Activists and columnists from Ireland’s media have denounced the silence from the government on the issue and the seeming unwillingness of the Department of Agriculture to intervene in recent weeks.
Martins’s claim is that as Macau’s economy is largely dependent on tourism, the government pays a great deal of attention to how external visitors view the MSAR. He has therefore called for international condemnation of the Canidrome in hopes that it will pressure the MSAR government into not renewing the license of the facility – a decision on which is expected to be made later this year.
“Macau’s leaders care a lot about how the rest of the world sees them,” writes Martins on the petition. “If the world speaks up against the Canidrome’s outdated and barbaric treatment of these animals, Macau’s government has to listen.”
“Our strategy with all the international organizations is to block [imports from] outside because the government does not block inside [domestic legislation],” he added at a press conference on Tuesday.
The government has made no indication that it will not renew the Canidrome’s license. In recent years it has supported the complex through granting tax cuts, which the facility’s critics say is the only financial means of keeping the Canidrome economically viable. Daniel Beitler