The Macau government has condemned a racetrack owner after the company sought to transfer more than 600 racing greyhounds to the authorities ahead of the track’s closure.

The decades-old Yat Yuen Canidrome – the only one remaining in Asia – is scheduled to close on Saturday. According to Macau’s Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM), Yat Yuen wrote to say that the dogs are considered part of the property which will be returned to the government under section 17 of the city’s Animal Protection Law.

But the IACM was not satisfied with the answer given by the firm, of which the executive director is Angela Leong. As one of Macau’s most powerful businesswomen, Leong is also a Macau lawmaker and the fourth wife of billionaire casino tycoon Stanley Ho.

A race at the Macau Canidrome. File

“[Yat Yuen] did not try its best to find an appropriate plan for the greyhounds and shifted the responsibility to the government and society. IACM condemns Yat Yuen’s irresponsible and blame-shifting acts,” it said in a statement on Thursday night, adding that Yat Yuen had two years to form a plan.

IACM said it has repeatedly told Yat Yuen that the greyhounds should not be included in the property being returned to the government, and the company has a duty to take care of them.

According to the city’s Animal Protection Law, Yat Yuen could be fined up to MOP 100,000 (HK$97,571) for each dog they abandon, if they do not take them back from the government within seven working days.

Leong told reporters on Friday that the company did not abandon the canines: “I wish to continue taking care of them, we asked to continue carrying out our duties in our letter, so I am very unhappy today – many residents have misunderstood,” she said.

Angela Leong. File Photo: All About Macau/Stand News.

Asked if the government lied, Leong said: “The government absolutely would not lie, it has its reasons to take action,” adding that the company has been working with the government to comply with its demands.

Leong said she would hold a press conference on Friday to explain what the firm has done over the past two years, but it was cancelled at the last minute.

Albano Martins, president of the Macau animal protection group Anima, said that – if he were in the government – he would sue Yat Yuen in court for its “irresponsible decision” to save money.

A race at the Macau Yat Yuen Canidrome. Photo: Wikimedia Commons/No1lovesu.

“As Anima, this only means what we have told for so long: Canidrome just care[s about] money!” he said.

Martins said Anima’s next task will be to find proper families for all of the dogs and generate the necessary funds for the operation.

Kris Cheng

Kris Cheng is a Hong Kong journalist with an interest in local politics. His work has been featured in Washington Post, Public Radio International, Hong Kong Economic Times and others. He has a BSSc in Sociology from the Chinese University of Hong Kong. Kris is HKFP's Editorial Director.