A senior Macau Jockey Club veterinary surgeon who shoots healthy horses says giving them a quick death is better than 'washing my hands' by sending them somewhere with a poor standard of care. Dr Martin Wainscott said he felt bad about killing horses but had no choice. He and the club's five other vets are on rotation to carry out the weekly killings. 'Certainly it is not a pleasurable job to do. We don't like doing it, but it is a job that has to be done, unfortunately. Shooting is more unpleasant for humans, it is more a human problem than a horse problem,' he said. Dr Wainscott, from New Zealand, said his team used bullets to destroy horses because they killed instantly and painlessly. Horses were heavily sedated before being shot, he said. Dr Wainscott conceded the majority of retired racehorses in Macau would be put down even though they were 'generally healthy'. And even though some had injured joints and bones, they could have enjoyed an extended life with suitable management, he said. A horse can live for more than 20 years. But animals as young as four are being put down in Macau once they are abandoned by owners. 'We are very constrained by geographical considerations. Macau just has no open and farming area. The alternative is to send them to China en masse and lose control of them, but we are not prepared to do that. 'You just don't know the conditions there, they could be tied to a tree and left there for the rest of their lives,' he said. 'I would prefer doing what I am doing than washing my hands [of the problem], sending them back to China and telling myself I am not going to think about them any more. It is a difficult situation, but we are doing the best we can. 'We are happy to do whatever we can, but there are responsibilities on the people who own the horses, their horses.' Dr Wainscott said there were very limited facilities in Macau to take care of retired horses. The Jockey Club riding school on Taipa can take care of about 20 and another small riding school on Coloane takes only six. The demand for pleasure riding in Macau is too limited to support another riding school. Last year the club built a home for injured or sick horses that can house up to 40 animals which have the potential to recover. Horse owners can enjoy 50 per cent discounts on horse maintenance fees there. It normally costs an owner $12,000 per month to keep a horse. The club also sends about 30 horses to a riding school in Guangdong province every year and has been making efforts to establish links overseas so that retired horses in Macau can be sent there. However, the progress is slow. Dr Wainscott said: 'We can import horses from places all over the world but unfortunately, those countries control the situation if we want to export horses. Now we have protocols with the EU (European Union) and the United States. 'We are also trying New Zealand and Singapore. Australia, however, has the most rigid importation requirements in the world. We are on the waiting list.' Some staff at the Jockey Club are disgusted by the shootings, but they remain silent. 'Everyone here knows about it, they know it is wrong but they just pretend it does not happen. My colleagues and I are very frustrated, we all love horses,' one source said. 'No one dares speak a word about it, they fear losing their jobs. But it is time the public knows about it. Why can't the Macau Government do something to stop this? You cannot just kill an animal after finishing with it. The club should find a nice place for the retired horses,' the source said. Another source said he had grown used to it. 'Horses owners are not willing to keep these horses. They cannot win races, what can we do?'