Macau’s racing greyhounds get speedier path to adoption in Hong Kong as track closure nears

Special measures will allow dogs to be held in quarantine outside city before finishing period at new owner’s home

PUBLISHED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2018, 8:53am
UPDATED : Tuesday, 10 July, 2018, 11:29am

People in Hong Kong who want to adopt greyhounds from the Macau dog racing track, which will close next Saturday, will now find it easier to do so under a deal struck by authorities from both sides.

Special measures have been put in place to speed up the adoption process for the 650 dogs facing an uncertain future from the imminent closure of the Macau Canidrome, the only dog racing facility in Asia.

People who want to bring pets to Hong Kong from overseas normally have to obtain a special permit from the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD). The animal will then be held for 120 days at one of the city’s quarantine centres.

But the queue for a space at the quarantine centres is currently around four to five months, the AFCD said on Monday.

“As the Canidrome Club will close on July 21, the usual practice will become impractical as citizens interested in adopting those dogs will not have enough time to complete the procedures,” a department spokeswoman said.

Under the special measures, the greyhounds must still spend 120 days in quarantine. But the first 90 can be spent in Macau’s pet shops or pet hotels, as long as the dog passes a health check and has been vaccinated against rabies and other infectious diseases. The canines can then spend the last 30 days of the quarantine period with their new owners in Hong Kong.

The AFCD spokeswoman added that this was a one-off arrangement and meant only to help applicants interested in adopting the Macau greyhounds. Applications for the special permit will close on August 31.

Announced on Monday, the arrangement came amid public concern over the fate of the 650 dogs kennelled at the ramshackle dog track, which will close after years of dwindling attendance, declining betting turnover and worries about animal welfare.

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A call had gone out to save about 600 animals, and offers to adopt came from individuals, charities and rescue organisations in Hong Kong, Macau and elsewhere in the world.

Hong Kong legislator Claudia Mo Man-ching, who is following the issue, welcomed the deal. The Council Front lawmaker said she believed “about a dozen” applications had been submitted to the department before the fast track measures were put in place.

Mo expected the number of applications to grow to 100 with the new arrangement.