Anima petitions for global greyhound adoption campaign

Billy Chan, Albano Martins (center) and Francisco José Leandro (right)

Animal rights group Anima (Macau) has appealed to organizations around the world to volunteer for the adoption of some 650 greyhounds once the Macau (Yat Yuen) Canidrome closes its doors.

The appeal, co-signed by the presidents of other greyhound activist groups, namely GREY2K USA Worldwide and Pet Levrieri, is calling on groups involved in animal protection and rehoming to step up and save hundreds of greyhounds.

“The Macau greyhounds are just one step away from safety and freedom, but in order [for that] to happen, this step requires a special and concrete commitment on the part of everyone who loves animals,” it reads.

Last year, international observers described the dog racing facility as “the world’s deadliest greyhound racetrack,” due to the abnormally high number of euthanized dogs. However, as the closure of the Canidrome became incrementally more likely, activists changed their tone from condemnation to appeal.

Association president Albano Martins said that the appeal is “asking organizations around the world to accept [Macau’s] dogs if they are given to us [from the Canidrome]. We have to be practical: we have no space for new animals.”

“We have so many animals here at Anima,” he continued. “The last thing I want is to take on more animals… but we cannot close our [hearts to them].”

His plan is to solicit international organizations to join a global greyhound adoption campaign.

Anima is seeking homes for approximately 650 greyhounds.

The local association is currently responsible for almost 400 dogs in the territory, and a further 377 outside of the MSAR, according to a report released at the end of last year.

“Technically, we are capable of sending all of the dogs all over the world,” said Martins, who claimed that organizations in France, Italy and the U.K. have already agreed to adopt 100, 60 and 60 dogs respectively. “We believe that we can do that [arrange 650 adoptions]. However, doing that all together [on the same day] is impossible, because we don’t have space [to accommodate them].”

The ideal solution, Martins said, is to allow Anima to use the Canidrome facility on a short-term, temporary basis, once the races at the facility cease.

Pressuring the Canidrome to release the greyhounds into Anima’s care has been the group’s single biggest priority in the last 12 months. According to some media reports, the managing director of the Canidrome, Angela Leong, has said on previous occasions that the dogs do not belong to the Canidrome company, rather they are owned by private buyers.

However, Martins yesterday contested this idea, claiming that the company is the single biggest greyhound owner. “We have all the names of the dogs at the Canidrome and about 120 are in their name,” he said.

Furthermore, “by the rules of Canidrome, when the owners no longer want the dogs, they are compelled to give the dogs to the Canidrome. So the dogs will [at some stage] go back to the Canidrome.”

The appeal was announced at a press conference yesterday at the Anima (Macau) headquarters, where Martins and other senior members of the group also reviewed the activities and budget of last year.

In 2016, the number of dogs rescued dropped to 190, from 202 in the previous year. On the other hand, 286 cats were rescued by the association last year, compared to 195 in 2015.

Other animals rescued in 2016 included birds (61), rabbits (32), hamsters (18) snakes (17) and turtles/tortoises (9).

In terms of the organization’s balance sheet, revenue last year amounted to almost MOP8 million, up significantly from MOP5.84 million in 2015. Total expenditure last year was about MOP8.73 million, compared with MOP6.96 million in 2015, and is projected to increase marginally to MOP8.8 million for this year.

At the end of 2016, Anima had accrued some MOP2.3 million in outstanding debt, but Martins said yesterday that he is confident that, as in the past, the association will be able to clear its debt.

Separately, Anima board member Francisco José Leandro, publicly thanked the cooperation of the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau at the press conference, saying that the government bureau had been helpful and communicative with the animal rights group.

He also said that, as per the terms of the group’s new Code of Ethics, Anima will avoid political involvement “including demonstrations or lobbying.”

“We want to keep distance from political matters,” he said. “However, we are [prepared] to talk with every association that has the same kind of commitment to the welfare of animals. Dialogue [with these groups] is always possible.”

Martins ‘still free’ after investigation

Commenting on a police investigation into the Anima (Macau) president for sharing a video on social media of animal abuse, Albano Martins said, “I am still free [and] that’s the only thing I know [about the case].” Martins was summoned to answer to authorities earlier this year after he shared a video of a Judiciary Police officer abusing a dog. Allegedly, sharing the video content was illegal because it violated the privacy of the officer in question. “I had to do that [share the video] because it is my job, and I would do the same if given the chance to do it again. I believe that the video did not violate any laws, because the face was not [shown] clear,” said Martins yesterday, on the sidelines of the press conference. “The government saw [the video] and punished the police officer,” he added. “You see everyday in the newspaper that the police are being suspended… so many, so it’s normal.”

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