The last 10 greyhounds adopted overseas left the kennels of the now defunct dog racetrack in Fai Chi Kei Tuesday, Municipal Affairs Bureau (IAM) President José Maria da Fonseca Tavares said.
According to Tavares, the last 10 greyhounds left the racetrack formerly run by the Macau (Yat Yuen) Canidrome Co. Ltd. in Fai Chi Kei yesterday and were sent to their overseas adopters via Hong Kong.
Taves made the remarks during a press briefing at the racetrack, which closed in July last year.
The 10 greyhounds were placed in separate flight cases and loaded onto five different vans. They were first taken to the airport in Hong Kong for flights to their overseas destinations where they will be collected by rescue centres before being adopted, according to local animal protection society ANIMA.
Tavares pointed out that 307 of the adopted greyhounds went to the US, 70 to the UK, 60 to Italy, 26 to Hong Kong, 15 to France, and five to Germany.
ANIMA President Albano Martins told Portuguese reporters during the joint press briefing that the process of sending the adopted greyhounds overseas had taken about six months.
According to Martin’s Facebook page, the six greyhounds were temporarily moved from the old racetrack to ANIMA’s shelter in Coloane yesterday. The six dogs would first have to recover from various illnesses before they could be sent to their overseas adopters, sources close to ANIMA told The Macau Post Daily.
According to Tavares, another 34 greyhounds were earlier adopted by locals, 23 of which by ANIMA. A total of 19 greyhounds were still staying with local fosters until they can go to their adoptive homes in Australia afterwards, Tavares added.
With ANIMA’s planning and help, the greyhounds’ adoption programme was completed successfully, said Tavares, who expressed his sincere gratitude to all the volunteers who assisted in taking care of the greyhounds at the Yat Yuen kennels.
As all the greyhounds have left the Yat Yuen kennels, the Municipal Affairs Bureau will return the former racetrack and its facilities to the Finance Services Bureau (DFS) today, Tavares said.
Tavares said that from October 7 last year, all the costs of taking care of the greyhounds, such as sending them abroad and feeding them as well as the veterinary services, were to be borne by Yat Yuen.
The company has paid part of the expenditure, Tavares said, stressing that Yat Yuen still needed to pay the remainder borne by government first.
Yat Yuen, which owned the dog-racing concession granted by the government in the early 1960s, moved out of the racetrack on July 20 last year. It left behind its roughly 530 greyhounds in their kennels even though the government had notified the company about the impending closure two years prior to that date.
The then Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM), now renamed Municipal Affairs Bureau, took over the facilities of the racetrack and looked after the greyhounds with the help of ANIMA until yesterday.
Yat Yuen first planned to house the about 500 greyhounds temporarily in a vacant factory in Pac On in Taipa, then in a number of private homes and finally in dozens of shipping containers right next to a retirement home in Coloane. However, none of the temporary relocation projects ever got off the ground because of which the greyhounds had to remain in the kennels of the former racetrack until further notice.
The government late last year took legal action against Yat Yuen for animal abandonment, and according to media reports in January, Yat Yuen paid a 25-million-pataca fine to settle the case.
According to informed sources, Yat Yuen, which is headed by legislator-cum-casino executive Angela Leong On Kei, has borne all the costs of sending the hundreds of greyhounds to their overseas adopters, reportedly reaching millions of patacas.
According to ANIMA figures released Tuesday, 517 greyhounds have been relocated since September 26 last year. A total of 15 greyhound died after the racetrack closed for good.
Meanwhile, Martins told Portuguese media it was not the right time to demand the closure of the Macau Jockey Club, even though he admitted that the Taipa racetrack’s horses are not very well treated. He was quick to add that the days of horse racing in Macau were numbered because he believed that the horse racetrack would become a real-estate development project before long.(Macaunews)