Since its grand opening in the 1960s, the Canidrome, in Macau, has seen thousands of dogs and a long history of animal abuse.
Over the course of several decades, over 21,000 Australian greyhounds were sent in droves to race its tracks. Most of these animals never returned to their home country, being killed when they became too injured or sick to race. In 2015, a ban was put in place to prevent the importation of Australian greyhounds without a passport.
However, the Australian government refused to cooperate, and the ban did little to stem the flow of dogs coming into the country.
Australian hounds are only a fraction of the dogs that the Canidrome has seen come and go. Races were held five days a week, and the gambling market surrounding the dogs was a rich one. Despite graphic reports of exploitation and abuse, the track prospered for over 50 years.
The unethical scheme did not fly under the radar, however. Animal rights groups in Macau were vocal in their disagreement with the greyhounds’ treatment. One such organization is Anima, a group headed by Albano Martins.
After years of lobbying against the Macau (Yat Yuen) Canidrome Club, they have succeeded in shutting down the racetrack. This is a remarkable victory, but it doesn’t mark the end of their work.
According to World Animal News, anywhere between 500-600 greyhounds were abandoned at the track. Now that they cannot be raced, they’re virtually useless to their owners. Activists are determined to give them the care they need, and have been looking for “forever homes” for the animals. Many potential owners in Hong Kong are currently undergoing screening.
This isn’t the only promising news for the dogs, however. In a press conference held on Taipa Island, businesswoman and billionaire Angela Leong On-kei shook hands with Albano Martins. Despite previous animosity, the two have unveiled a project aiming to help the greyhounds until they’re able to find homes. Even if they don’t find families, this project will ensure that they lead comfortable lives.
The South China Morning Post reports that they plan on creating the International Centre for the Rehoming of Greyhounds, which will be located near the Cotai Strip. The facility will be built according to international standards, complete with air conditioning, a medical center, indoor and outdoor activity areas, and furnished living quarters. Leong herself will cover the costs, and hire veterinary staff to stay on-call for the dogs.
At the press conference, she explained her motives for the charitable act.
“Love is the bridge between people, and love is also the bridge between people and animals. All along, I have said I would make sure the greyhounds were taken care of, and today I am simply living up to the promises I made. Whatever the cost, the Macau (Yat Yuen) Canidrome Company will meet the bill.”