Macau’s racing greyhounds on parade ahead of expected deal to finally secure their future

Animal rights activist says ‘things are going to work out well’ for all 533 greyhounds at the now defunct Macau (Yat Yuen) Canidrome

PUBLISHED : Friday, 27 July, 2018, 7:04am
UPDATED : Friday, 27 July, 2018, 7:04am

They say every dog has its day, and on Thursday hundreds of greyhounds languishing in canine limbo at the now defunct Macau canidrome had theirs.

In the face of sustained pressure and criticism, what was until a few days ago the last legally functioning greyhound racing track in Asia flung open the doors of its much maligned kennels to public scrutiny. It was to all intents and purposes, a dog day afternoon.

The unprecedented act of openness was made possible thanks to an unlikely alliance between government officials in the richest gaming destination on the planet, one of its most powerful women and the animal rights group that had been her most vocal critic.

It came ahead of an expected announcement on Friday that a deal had been reached which would secure a safe and loving home for all 533 greyhounds at the ramshackle Macau (Yat Yuen) Canidrome.

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In baking heat on Thursday, volunteers who had flocked from around Asia to tend to the region’s last “legitimate” racing dogs, paraded their canine charges in front of a media pack only too willing to be thrown a bone.

Chief among the volunteers was Hongkonger Zoe Tang, a board member of Macau’s only animal rights group Anima.

While Tang declined to be drawn on the three-way deal, or who would pay for it, it was clear she was confident that the owner of the canidrome, Angela Leong On-kei – lawmaker, businesswomen and fourth wife of casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun – and officials had come to an agreement which would secure the greyhounds’ future.

“You will have to wait until tomorrow to find out the details but I am happy to believe that things are going to work out well for all these dogs. They deserve it. In the past, yes, we have been unhappy with the way these animals were treated, don’t forget 300 were killed every year when they had passed their racing best,” Tang said.

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“But I think it is safe to say that all 533 dogs which remain out of the 650 we started with, [the rest having been adopted already] will be looked after properly and we hope within a year will find a loving and suitable home.”

Asked about the condition of the dogs, Tang said a significant number had “problems with their teeth” and that would be the something which would be dealt with as soon as possible.

To the untrained eye, a number of the greyhounds looked less that fighting fit and their kennels were at best, spartan.

For fellow volunteer Rumiko Takeuchi, who lives in Macau but is originally from Tokyo, that too is a concern: “I wanted to help and have been coming every few days to look after the dogs. Some of them have problems with their teeth. I hope that can be fixed,” she said.

Thursday’s canine parade came after years of criticism over the way the dogs had been kept and treated. Among the critics was a Hong Kong businesswoman who said at the weekend that she had waged a two-year battle against red tape to secure the adoption of four greyhounds and resettle them in Hong Kong.