5,000 back end to dog racing in Macau
More than 5,000 people have signed an online petition calling for an end to greyhound racing in Macau amid an international outcry over the mass death of dogs in the territory.
The petition was started after a Sunday Morning Post investigation last month found that dogs were being put down at the rate of more than one a day at the Macau Canidrome, Asia's only legal dog track.
A total of 383 greyhounds from Australia were put down by injection at the Canidrome last year. In March of this year alone, 45 dogs were destroyed; nearly all were healthy and no more than five years old.
The greyhounds are imported at the age of two or three and kept within the Canidrome to run in the four-times-a-week races, but are usually put down if they fail to finish in the top three for five consecutive races.
Because the Canidrome does not allow retired greyhounds to be taken on as pets and because anti-rabies quarantine restrictions prevent their export to Hong Kong, there is no hope of a life after retirement for the dogs, as there is in other greyhound racing countries.
The Post story has been circulated by animal-welfare groups worldwide and anti-greyhound-racing group Grey2K USA collected 5,200 signatures in an online petition calling for an end to the sport in Macau.
The petition, addressed to the Macau government, quotes figures from the Sunday Morning Post investigation and says Grey2K USA helped draft legislation to stop greyhound racing on the Pacific island of Guam.
It argues: 'As long as greyhound racing continues, greyhounds will suffer. Please help end this terrible cruelty in Macau.'
Hundreds of supporters from around the world added comments to the petition. One of them, Lynn Sajdak, described the sport as 'shameful to Macau'. Another wrote: 'Macau is full of casinos. Why, oh why do they need to gamble on dogs as well?'
The online petition comes after a letter signed by 24 animal-welfare groups in China was sent to Australian Prime Minister Julia Gillard calling for an immediate halt to the export of greyhounds to Macau.
The letter was signed by groups in Beijing, Chengdu, Xian, Dalian, Shandong and Guangzhou, who are also concerned over tentative plans to open dog tracks across China in association with greyhound-racing experts from Ireland.
Helen Stevens, co-ordinator of the UK-based group Greyhound Crusaders, said of the online petition: 'We are delighted with this response, as it shows the wealth of feeling from people across the world for these innocent dogs, whose lives have been cut short for the price of a bet.
'We have written twice to the Macau Canidrome asking for their response to our calls for a closure of the track and have received no reply, so we can only assume it is business as usual for them.
'But while greyhounds are dying every week at the track, caring people across the world will do everything they can to help these innocent dogs whose lives are wretched.'
Sandy Macalister, executive director of the Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals in Hong Kong, said: 'We are encouraged by the number of people who have taken an interest in this issue, but we believe the ones who are most likely to effect change and who have the responsibility to do so are those at the source of supply, in Australia.'
The Macau Canidrome did not respond to phone calls and e-mails from the Sunday Morning Post asking for comment on the controversy.
Revenue last year, in patacas, from dog racing in Macau
- The Canidrome is taxed at a lower rate than the city's casinos