It’s time to do right by Macau’s greyhounds

The Macau government has done the right thing to take over about 600 greyhounds as the Canindrome closes. The animals should be retired in dignity and security

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 July, 2018, 8:06am
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 July, 2018, 8:08am

The Macau government has done the right thing to take over about 600 greyhounds from politician and businesswoman Angela Leong On-kei.

As one of Macau’s most powerful public figures, she has sadly failed to meet her responsibility as effective owner of the dogs used for the only racing track in the region.

Macau greyhounds in government care as Angela Leong misses deadline

The contract for Macau’s dog track – held by Leong’s company, Macau (Yat Yuen) Canidrome – is about to end. The last race was held at the end of last month.

There should have been plenty of time for her to settle the animals humanely, despite efforts by many animal welfare activists to put in an adoption programme as well as offers from around the world to shelter those dogs.

The inaction and lack of information have led to fears that the dogs could be sold off to unscrupulous individuals. There was even a plan to ship most of the dogs to Hainan Island, which is being mooted as a possible gaming centre for the mainland where gambling is generally illegal.

The latest move by Macau authorities will help to guarantee the animals’ welfare. It came after intense public pressure and an official ultimatum for Leong’s company to provide a plan on how to settle the animals or face legal action.

The inaction of Leong’s company is inexcusable. The racing contract ends on July 20. Leong and her company officials have had plenty of time beforehand to decide what to do with the dogs.

Angela Leong handed ultimatum over future of greyhounds at Macau’s dog track

Macau authorities say the company may now face legal penalty. In a humane offer, Hong Kong’s Agriculture, Fisheries and ­Conservation Department ­has struck a deal with the Macau authorities to speed up the process for ­Hongkongers who wanted to adopt the greyhounds.

Kind-hearted people and animal welfare groups from around the world have also offered to help.

The plight of the dogs has truly touched many hearts. Macau is right to take over the dogs. Officials there must now provide a safe and humane environment for their temporary shelter and work quickly with experienced animal welfare NGOs to help home the animals.

Given their training, it’s likely there will be unscrupulous people and dodgy companies that might want to get their hands on them. A screening process needs to be put in place.

Those dogs have earned their right to retire in dignity and security. We must now do right by them.