ABC News

By Emma Younger

Posted January 21, 2012 19:30:44

Animal welfare groups are calling on the Government to stop the live export of Australian greyhounds to Macau, as the territory has no animal protection laws and the dogs are routinely euthanased.

Australia is the largest supplier of dogs to the Chinese special administrative region, which is the only part of China where greyhound racing is legal.

Hundreds of Australian-bred greyhounds are sent each year, and now an international alliance of NGOs has written a letter to Prime Minister Julia Gillard claiming that every greyhound sent from Australia to Macau’s Canidrome race track is killed within three years of arriving.

Animals Asia director Ann Lloyd-Jones says animals should not be sent to places like Macau where there are no animal protection laws.

“We need to make a stand that it’s not acceptable for us to allow these dogs to go to a country where we have no control over their fate,” she said.

“They face endless confinement, they often suffer serious injuries when racing, and of course when they’re no longer profitable … they’re given a lethal injection.”

Ms Lloyd-Jones said she was concerned the trade would increase, with plans to expand greyhound racing into mainland China.

The Australian Department of Agriculture, Fisheries and Forestry said Australia supported the efforts of governments in other countries to improve animal welfare.

In other countries, retired racing dogs can be adopted as pets, but every greyhound at Macau’s Canidrome race track is eventually euthanased.

The race track owners do not allow dogs to be adopted locally, and sending the greyhounds overseas is a lengthy and expensive process due to quarantine restrictions.

Grey2K USA, an American group that campaigns to end greyhound racing internationally, is lobbying to have one of the dogs in Macau sent back to Australia as a test case for international adoption.

The track owners have ignored the organisation’s letters.

But Grey2K USA’s executive director Carey Theil said the campaign provided an opportunity to begin discussing solutions.

“There’s no question that a creative solution can be found, whether that’s halting the export of dogs from Australia to Macau to begin with, or whether it’s the track owning up and taking responsibility for these dogs and sending them home to Australia to be re-homed,” he said.

Animal rights groups in Macau said the poor treatment of greyhounds was just one example of animal cruelty in the territory.

They are campaigning for the introduction of animal welfare laws to protect all animals, including greyhounds.

The territory’s first animal welfare bill was drafted in 2007 but has been put on hold.

Veterinarian Teresa Freitas worked for Macau’s animal control department and helped draft the law.

Now she organises the Concern for Animal Walk, an annual rally to demand legislation for the protection of animals.

Ms Freitas said the lack of laws means people do not take responsibility for vaccinating or caring for their dogs properly.

She believes it would not be viable to re-home greyhounds locally as a large number of abandoned dogs are already euthanased at the council’s kennel each month.

Activists like Ms Freitas have vowed to continue their campaign to get the Macau authorities to wind down greyhound racing and deal with animal cruelty.

“I really hope that something will change and if nothing changes every year we will get together again, we will gather the people to fight for the law to protect animals in Macau,” she said.

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