• Macau welcomes the Year of the Dog

    29 May 2018

    In this second sporting edition of the Lighthouse magazine and given this Chinese New Year celebrates the year of the dog, the Macau report turns its gaze towards the Yat Yuen Canidrome, the infamous greyhound racing track, the only stadium of its kind in Asia. Built in 1963 in the north of the peninsular, the Macau Canidrome in its 55 year history has been plagued by accusations of maltreatment of greyhounds, appalling and cruel kennel conditions and summary execution of dogs that underperform. Yet for over half a century this aging concrete monolith has run 12 races everynight, 5 nights a week.

    Waning gambling interest in greyhound racing and pressure from animal rights groups have ensured its twin concrete arched entrance will close for good in July 2018, however concern remains over the fate of the 650 greyhounds that still reside there. Whilst generally pet friendly, the Macau community is too small to take such a large influx of dogs. Indeed, in the 55 years since its inception only 8 dogs have been adopted according to Anima, a Macau animal welfare organization that has been monitoring the Canidrome.

    Anima and other animal rights groups have joined to fight to save the remaining dogs having gathered 50,000 signatures to petition the Macau Government to help secure the dogs’ future by placing them in Anima’s care. Some groups are raising funds in an effort to find new homes for the greyhounds overseas. One questions whether they can be returned to Australia which has been the main supplier of greyhounds to Macau until exports were banned in 2013 owing to high                                                                death rates and poor conditions.

    The company that runs the Canidrome have stated that they will continue to look after the retired athletes. Given the past history however, the animal rights groups remain concerned for the welfare of the dogs believing they will be killed, eaten or sent to illegal underground racing tracks in mainland China. How this issue is addressed will have far reaching consequences as to how Macau is perceived by the rest of the World with regards to the welfare of animals.

    The use of the Canidrome land following its closure is under review by the Macau SAR Government. In April 2017 a MOP1.43 million contract was granted to City Planning & Engineering Consultants Ltd to conduct a study of the development of the Canidrome plot. Whilst not as yet open to public consultation the Government did reveal it proposed to build four schools, one being for children with special needs. The proposals are part of the Government’s ‘Blue Sky’ project which seeks to solve the problem of scarcity of green spaces meaning education facilities in Macau not having access to open areas for sporting activities.

    The year started well with the Lighthouse Macau chapter donating 300,000 HKD to the Asia Pacific fund. The first Lighthouse Macau gathering of 2018 was hosted by Grand Flag Engineering Company Ltd at the Four Seasons and was well attended by the members. The February gathering is to be hosted by Tabar Marble which, as always, promises to be a lively affair.

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