Fears over fate of Macau greyhounds return as animal rights activist quits group, saying she could ‘no longer stay quiet’ over situation
Zoe Tang says government-imposed deadline to desex all 523 dogs within 60 days is ‘ridiculously tight’ and some could die
Cracks have begun to appear in a high-profile plan to rehouse more than 500 greyhound racing dogs still languishing in substandard conditions at the now closed Macau canidrome – the last facility of its kind in Asia.
Less than two weeks after an initiative was unveiled to build a purpose-built International Centre for the Rehoming of Greyhounds – devised in an unlikely alliance between animal rights activists and one of the most powerful women in the world’s premier casino hub – fresh doubts have emerged over the future of the dogs.
One of the most prominent champions of the dogs has quit Macau’s only animal rights group, Anima, citing what she described as a “ridiculously tight” deadline imposed by officials in the city that all 523 greyhounds be desexed within a 60-day period.
Zoe Tang, a Hong Kong resident who had been active with the group for six years and at the forefront of the campaign to ensure the dogs’ future, also voiced fears the deadline and the conditions in which the animals were still being kept at the ramshackle canidrome meant some of them could die.
In a separate development, Tang’s former colleague and head of Anima, Albano Martins, said on Monday the group was studying the feasibility of a canine airlift of the 532 greyhounds to the United States and Europe by charter flights.
Tang said: “I am very concerned dogs will die as a result of this ridiculous deadline, that all 532 dogs must be desexed within 60 days. Just one desexing procedure can take up to four hours and some of the dogs suffer from very bad dental problems which need to be fixed.
“Some of the dogs’ teeth are so bad they cannot eat and the conditions in the existing kennels at the canidrome are definitely not ideal.
“I have tried my best to talk to everyone involved and change the situation but I can no longer keep quiet about what is going on.”
Tang released photographs that appeared to show the plight of one dog kept in a kennel at the canidrome, which closed on July 21.
“His nose had been bleeding from July 31 and I asked the government if they could spare a vet to come on August 1 to tend to the sick greyhounds but they said no vets were available as there was not enough staff,” she said.
Martins however put a different spin on Tang’s departure, telling the Macau media he had “dismissed” her.
The dispute and confusion came just days after Martins and canidrome owner Angela Leong On-kei – Macau lawmaker, businesswoman and fourth wife of casino tycoon Stanley Ho Hung-sun – announced plans to create a new centre to look after the dogs while adoptive homes were found for them.
Martins also said: “Everything is going as I expect and that is saying something as in Macau things do not always go as expected.
“We are still working with Angela on the new dogs’ home and I have no big problems with her. The only problem is the government imposition of all animals being desexed in 60 days.”
Neither Leong nor the government had responded to questions on the latest developments by publication time.