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Forum strongly slams Canidrome for abandoning dogs

2018-07-23 08:00     Comment:1

Guest speakers and members of the audience at yesterday’s Macau Forum strongly slammed Macau (Yat Yuen) Canidrome Co. Ltd. for deliberately abandoning its greyhounds at the Fai Chi Kei racetrack and passing its duty of taking care of the dogs to the government, considering that the government told the company two years ago that it must vacate the property before July 21, 2018.

The weekly debate programme is hosted by government-owned broadcaster TDM in its studio at Macau Forum in Zape every Sunday.

Yat Yuen had not relocated most of its greyhounds before the official closure of the racetrack on Friday night and simply left them there. Consequently, the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM) was forced to intervene in the matter, taking over the racetrack’s kennels and looking after the greyhounds in line with the Animal Protection Law.

Several local animal protection groups have been assisting the bureau in taking care of the dogs.

On Friday, Yat Yuen requested again to transfer the responsibility of taking care of the greyhounds to the bureau, based on Article 17 of the Animal Protection Law, which states that if the owner of an animal cannot continue to feed it or cannot transfer it to others, he or she can pass the animal to the bureau but needs to bear the costs of its food and shelter. The article also states that the owner will no longer hold possession of the animal after he or she passes it to the bureau.

‘Unreasonable request’
In response, the bureau steadfastly rejected the “unreasonable” request, saying that Article 17 is not applicable to the case of the racetrack operator, which, the bureau insisted, had the duty to house and take care of the dogs.

The bureau said in a statement last Thursday that Yat Yuen had made such a request in a letter, which insisted that the greyhound were “part of the assets” of its concession to run the racetrack that should revert to the government following the expiration of the concession at midnight on Friday night.

On Friday afternoon, Yat Yuen’s lawyer Adelino Correia told reporters that the company would insist on its request based on Article 17 of the Animal Protection Law and would leave the greyhounds at the racetrack.

After the bureau confirmed the abandonment of the greyhounds by Yat Yuen, it told the company to take back the dogs within seven working days. Otherwise the company will be officially deemed as having abandoned the dogs and that it will then be fined between 20,000 and 100,000 patacas for each abandoned dog, according to the Animal Protection Law.

Yat Yuen’s abandonment of the greyhounds has sparked a public outcry in Macau and elsewhere.

533 greyhounds left behind
The bureau confirmed on Saturday that 533 greyhounds were left behind at the racetrack’s kennels.

During yesterday’s forum, guest speaker Ho Kam Meng, a lawyer by profession, noted that Article 17 of the Animal Protection Law is only applicable when the owner of an animal cannot feed it due to unpreventable factors such as family issues.

Ho noted that the government had given Yat Yuen two years to relocate the greyhounds, adding the situation showed that the company has failed to fulfil its responsibility of taking care of the dogs.

Ho said it turned out that before the racetrack’s closure the company had already expected the government to intervene and take care of the greyhounds. He also said it turned out that the company simply abandoned the dogs and shifted the responsibility of relocating the dogs to the government once the concession had expired.

Ho said that Yat Yuen’s action was equivalent to abandoning the greyhounds deliberately, as the company showed no signs of making any effort to prevent the occurrence of such a situation. Ho said that the bureau, therefore, should fine the company for abandoning the dogs, according to the Animal Protection Law.

Ho also said that the bureau could even consider whether Yat Yuen’s action amounts to a criminal offence.

Fellow guest speaker Macau Abandoned Animals Protection Association (AAPAM) Chairwoman Yoko Choi Wing Chi said that Yat Yuen had sufficient financial resources and manpower for the proper relocation of the greyhounds, in addition to the fact that the government has given the company enough time to complete the dogs’ relocation.

Choi said that if Yat Yuen’s management had had a “human conscience”, the company could have completed the adoption process of the dogs over a one-year period.

Choi also said she hoped that the bureau and the city’s animal protection groups assisting in taking care of the greyhounds could reach a consensus as to how they would jointly carry out all the necessary tasks to ensure that the dogs will be adopted by the right people.

Choi also urged the government to hold workshops to allow prospective adopters of the greyhounds to gain a better understanding of the dogs, with the aim of preventing adopters from abandoning the dogs later because they didn’t understand them.

Fellow guest speaker Chan Tak Seng, a member of the governmentappointed Urban Planning Council (CPU), said that many residents have criticised Yat Yuen’s bad behaviour. He slammed Yat Yuen, as a large company, for leaving the greyhounds behind at the racetrack.

Chan urged the government to ensure that no other company will make use of such kinds of tricks in the future.

Chan also urged the government to take the Yat Yuen incident and similar behaviour by other companies in the future into consideration for its upcoming gaming concession bidding process – in the run-up to the expiration of the city’s three gaming concessions and three sub-concessions between 2020 and 2022.

The Yat Yuen was headed by lawmaker Angela Leong On Kei, the fourth wife of nonagenarian retired casino mogul Stanley Ho Hung Sun. Leong also heads the Macau Jockey Club, and she is also one of the top executives of gaming operator SJM whose concession expires in 2020.

Chan criticised Yat Yuen for lacking commercial ethics. He added that many non-local gaming operators have made important contributions to Macau’s development and social causes such as education. He asked rhetorically why a local betting company – Yat Yuen – has acted in such an irresponsible way.

On Friday morning, Leong had still told reporters that Yat Yuen would not abandon the greyhounds and that the company would hold a press conference in the afternoon detailing what Yat Yuen had done during the past two years for the preparation of the greyhounds’ futures. On Friday afternoon, Leong told reporters that Yat Yuen would cancel the press conference as her lawyer had told her that it was not the right time. Since then, Yat Yuen has not made any announcement about the fate of the greyhounds it left behind at the Fai Chi Kei racetrack.

Shortly after 11 p.m. on Friday, IACM Administrative Committee member Ung Sau Hong and several IACM officials inspected the racetrack’s kennels. Then after midnight, she told reporters that her bureau had confirmed that Yat Yuen had abandoned the greyhounds. She urged the company to take back the dogs within seven working days.

Ung also told reporters at that time that her bureau had confirmed that 533 greyhounds were left behind at the racetrack, 12 of which were suffering from chronic skin diseases and slight diarrhoea, while the others were in “normal” health condition.

The bureau said in a statement on Saturday that it had asked a number of local animal protection groups to provide the bureau with assistance to take care of the greyhounds and that volunteers from the groups had started to take care of the dogs on Saturday morning. According to the statement, the greyhounds rest and sleep during the night time when they are overseen by security guards stationed at the racetrack.

Officials of the Financial Services Bureau (DSF) completed the process of to taking over the assets for the dog-racing concession at the Fai Chi Kei racetrack on Friday afternoon.

Meanwhile, Lionel Leong Vai Tac told reporters on the sidelines of a public function on Saturday that all future gaming concessions will only be granted by public tender.



Volunteers from several local animal protection groups look after the abandoned greyhounds in the kennels of the former racetrack on Saturday. Photo: IACM


Macau Abandoned Animals Protection Association (AAPAM) Chairwoman Yoko Choi Wing Chi (centre) speaks during TDM’s Macau Forum, as Ho Kam Meng (left), a lawyer by profession, and Chan Tak Seng, a member of the government-appointed Urban Planning Council (CPU), look on, at the broadcaster’s Macau Forum studio in Zape yesterday. Courtesy: TDM


A doorman sweeps outside at the former greyhound racetrack – run by the Macau (Yat Yuen) Canidrome Co. Ltd. until the expiration of its dog-racing concession at midnight on Friday night – in Fai Chi Kei yesterday. Photo: Tony Wong

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