Multi-talented, English actor and comedian, Ricky Gervais, has publicly announced his distain for the treatment of greyhounds, at the Yat Yuen Canidrome dog track, in Macau.
The peninsula of Macau, of the People’s Republic of China, is home to the Yat Yuen Canidrome, an operational greyhound track, where nearly 400 greyhounds are put to death every year.
The comedian tweeted:
— Ricky Gervais (@rickygervais) February 16, 2014
A majority of the greyhounds racing in Macau are imported from Australia. In 2012, a total of 378 greyhounds were imported, and in the first eight months of 2013 there were 110 greyhound imports. Greyhounds are sold to individuals for up to HK$50,000 each when they arrive from Australia, but never leave the Yat Yuen Canidrome.
The dogs’ racing career is quite short, as their life on the track normally ends in three years. Choi U Fai, head of the Municipal and Civic Affairs Bureau’s animal control division, has said that the Canidrome euthanizes about thirty dogs each month. The dogs race four times a week. The greyhounds racing at the Canidrome are euthanized when they fail to place in the top three, for five consecutive races. There is no adoption program for the dogs, and no greyhounds leave the track alive. Every greyhound arriving at the track is dead within three years, said Fai.
According to the Macau Daily Times, “one of the exported Australian greyhounds, named Brooklyn, who suffered a severe injury last May, has not been seen since. The government of Macau has told the animal welfare group that Brooklyn is alive. Nevertheless, a petition with 28,000 signatures has been presented to Chief Executive Chui Sai On, urging him to help send the dog back to Australia.”
In 2007, a draft animal cruelty law was presented to the public for comment and consideration, but the Macau legislature never took it up. In 2014, there are still not any laws in place to prevent the needless killing, of these sweet-tempered dogs.
Charmaine Settle, from the Board of Directors, of the largest greyhound protection organization in the United States, Grey2K USA, says that it is “a one-way death sentence. We went to the Canidrome to see the dogs. We have been told there are 700 dogs there now, that are let out twice a day and then they race until they’re injured on the track or just not winning anymore and they die,” Settle explained. “So I guess if Americans knew this they would feel very sad that the greyhounds of Macau are exploited and suffer and die for the sake of a bet. They [the greyhounds] are never given a chance to be a pet or to be adopted in their life. That doesn’t happen in the US because they are adopted,” she added. “I would like to see regulations in Macau that will help protect greyhounds while they are racing and then try to set some adoption programme for them afterwards.”
Albano Martins, president of the Macau Society for the Protection of Animals (ANIMA), says that “[s]ince there are no laws on infectious diseases and the greyhounds would have to stay in quarantine for 40 days in Hong Kong, it’s quite difficult to send them back home.” He recalls the various attempts to start the Anima adoption programs with Canidrome, but all attempts failed. “We suspect that the killings continue, about 30 healthy animals a month. The adoption is important, but [does not] solve the problem, because there are many animals,” he stressed. “It is urgent to impose limits on the import of animals. Without a commitment by the Canidrome for adoptions, we have no other alternative but to ask the government to shut down the space,” he says. Martins concludes that to “close the Canidrome is the only way.”
The laws for animal protection, and the situation of greyhounds in Canidrome brought Britain’s Paul Littlefair, head of the Royal Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals, to Macau. After evaluating the situation, Littlefair comments “What happens to them when they can no longer run? The business is not very open to scrutiny. We do not know how many dogs have, under what conditions they live, who suffered injuries. And the biggest problem is that there is an alternative to the races when they leave. Compete for two years and then are destroyed.” He concludes, “Close the Canidrome is the only way.”
There are still signatures being added everyday to the petition, to have the four-year-old gentle greyhound dog, Brooklyn, sent home to Australia, where a forever home can be found for him.