Businesswoman hits out at red tape after two-year battle to transfer greyhounds from Macau to Hong Kong

Sportswear company executive Kathleen Trainor tells of ‘tortuous’ process to adopt dogs from now defunct Macau canidrome

PUBLISHED : Saturday, 21 July, 2018, 6:59pm
UPDATED : Saturday, 21 July, 2018, 10:51pm

A businesswoman who has waged a two-year battle against red tape to secure the adoption of four greyhound racing dogs from the now defunct Macau canidrome and resettle them in Hong Kong has hit out at Byzantine government bureaucracy in both cities.

Hong Kong sportswear company executive Kathleen Trainor – who has lived and worked in Hong Kong for 25 years – also called on the Agriculture, Fisheries and Conservation Department (AFCD) to extend an August 31 deadline for submitting adoption documentation so that good homes can be secured for more of the hundreds of dogs that still face an uncertain future.

Her call for a deadline extension came just hours after the ramshackle gates of the last legal dog racing track in Asia closed for the last time at midnight on Friday, bringing to an end more than half a century of greyhound racing in the city.

The latest twist in a bitter years-long struggle by animal welfare campaigners, who have consistently accused those who ran the now closed facility of keeping the dogs in “inhumane” conditions and showing scant regard for their future, saw officials in the world’s richest casino hub announce that the company which ran the canidrome would be fined under animal protection laws for abandoning 533 greyhounds on the premises.

Angela Leong handed ultimatum over future of dogs at Macau greyhound track

Officials rejected an argument by lawyers for Macau (Yat Yuen) Canidrome – which is owned by one of Macau’s most powerful women, Angela Leong On-kei – that they were not liable under the law. Leong, who is a prominent lawmaker in the city’s Legislative Assembly and the fourth wife of casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun, has yet to comment on the legal action.

Speaking in Macau on Saturday, Trainor, who has adopted four dogs, one of which she will keep and is seeking homes for the others, said while “a highly confusing” adoption system put together by AFCD officials had a “veneer” of action and care, she suspected it was designed and timed to make it as difficult as possible to adopt and transfer dogs from Macau to Hong Kong.

“I want to make it very clear that throughout this tortuous two-year process there have been individuals at the AFCD, its Macau equivalent and the canidrome who have been wonderful in helping,” Trainor said.

“It is the government bureaucracy and lack of a plan – too little, too late – that got us into these dire straits with the greyhounds. There has been too little information and so much contradictory information, making it so complex for anyone who wanted to actually save and import the dogs into Hong Kong. I have been through it first hand so I know,” she said.

“The bottom line is that the special permit for entry of greyhounds into Hong Kong was announced only on July 9 and all the applications along with rabies test results and others have to been done and submitted to the AFCD by August 31. The timing is just too tight to really give much chance of adopting and importing many greyhounds into Hong Kong. An extension would be fantastic.”

Where will 500 dogs go when the Macau Canidrome closes?

Trainor said her love affair with the breed started almost three decades ago in the United States when her sister-in-law there adopted a greyhound.

“They are such beautiful and sweet creatures. A five-year-old or so greyhound coming out of the racing environment is really like a institutionalised person being released into society, they still have a proper life to live and deserve to live it,” Trainor said, adding that for help on getting through the adoption process people should email the following address: [email protected].

Describing herself as a bit of a wine aficionado, Trainor said she had named the female dog she was keeping “Cognac”.

The AFCD said the import of dogs and cats from Macau was normally subject to a minimum of 120 days of quarantine and the current waiting time was more than 3 months. A risk assessment for a special arrangement to import retired racing greyhounds from Macau was being conducted.