Race to save 650 Macau dogs ‘at risk of being sold for their blood’ goes global

People from around the world offer to take in greyhounds, soon to be rendered homeless by racetrack’s closure, whose blood is sought after for transfusions

PUBLISHED : Thursday, 28 June, 2018, 8:03am
UPDATED : Thursday, 28 June, 2018, 8:03am

A campaign on behalf of hundreds of racing dogs facing an uncertain future with the impending closure of the Macau canidrome went global on Wednesday, as track bosses received a formal list of potential adopters from around the world.

The mass bid to adopt all 650 greyhounds at the track followed a protest over the way officials were handling the closure. Activists have claimed some of the dogs had already been snapped up by unscrupulous middlemen seeking to profit from the value of their blood for transfusions.

The plight of the dogs currently kennelled at Asia’s only dog track – which will effectively become homeless when the last race is run there on July 24 – has brought in offers to adopt from people, charities and rescue organisations in Hong Kong, Europe and the United States, as well as Macau residents.

However, it was far from certain on Wednesday that the mass offer of sanctuary would work. According to animal rights campaigners, the government officials ultimately responsible for the animals’ fate were sticking to their earlier rejection of a plea to let Macau’s only animal rights group take over the kennels and look after the dogs.

Alabano Martins, president of the Society for the Protection of Animals (Anima), delivered a letter, along with the adoption applications, to the executive director of the Macau (Yat Yuen) Canidrome, Stanley Lei Chi-man.

The letter and applications were accepted by staff from the canidrome, which is owned and controlled by Angela Leong On-kei, a lawmaker in Macau’s Legislative Assembly and the fourth wife of retired casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun.

Leong has yet to comment publicly on the latest controversy surrounding the track.

Also on Wednesday, one of the largest veterinary practices in the former Portuguese enclave said it would never be involved in selling blood. It had not been named by activists who made the claims.

Dr Ruan Bester, of the Royal Veterinary Centre (RVC) in Macau, even offered to help any adopters with veterinary formalities.

He said: “I really want to get the message out that it is not RVC that adopted any of the greyhounds. We have not, and don’t have, any intention of adopting or using them for blood transfusions, as is being suggested. We will support people that adopt them with free neutering and dental services, for all 650 of the greyhounds.”

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Greyhound blood can be highly valuable for transfusions, because it has higher levels of red cells than that of other breeds.

Meanwhile, Hong Kong legislator Claudia Mo Man-ching said a number of city residents had offered to adopt the dogs. Mo, of HK First, said she believed the number would swell to as many as 100.

She also quoted Dr So Ping-man, acting director of the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department, as saying the government was discussing with Macau authorities a relaxation of the risk assessments and shortening of the quarantine period for the dogs, if they made the short trip to the city. Dogs imported from Macau are generally subject to a minimum of four months quarantine in Hong Kong.

The department, Mo said, also hoped the quarantine process could take place in Macau as the facilities in Hong Kong are full.

Additional reporting by Jeffie Lam