The Macau (Yat Yuen) Canidrome Club (Chinese: 逸園賽狗場), located in Nossa Senhora de Fátima, Macau, China, is the only greyhound racing stadium in Asia. Around 120 dogs take part in 16 races five days per week. It has two grandstands, several private boxes and a VIP lounge.
From the Canidrome being opened in the 1960s until late 2015, Australia supplied around 400 greyhounds per year to the stadium. Greyhounds Australasia, the racing industry's governing body in Australia, banned exports to Macau in 2013, no longer issuing passports for greyhounds to this location. The Australian Government refused to make it illegal to send greyhounds to Macau without a passport, and so the ban was ineffectual and some Australian greyhound owners continued to send greyhounds to the Canidrome.
After a report on greyhound racing in Asia, including the Canidrome, with shocking footage was aired on ABC News Australia, Qantas quickly stated on its facebook page that it would no longer offer racing greyhound freight services to Asia. Cathay Pacific soon followed suit by saying that it would not transport racing greyhounds. At this point, the shipment of greyhounds from Australia to Macau stopped.
The Canidrome soon looked to Ireland for its supply of greyhounds, and some unscrupulous owners in Ireland readily sold young greyhounds not graded high enough to race on tracks in the UK and Ireland to agents in Hong Kong, who sell such greyhounds on at an auction at the Canidrome, sometimes for large profits. In March and April 2016, 9 young greyhounds were flown from Dublin to Hong Kong and were then ferried on to Macau. A further attempt was made to send another 24 in May 2016, but they were turned away at Heathrow as the flight crates were deemed unsafe.
The greyhounds at the Canidrome are doomed to a miserable life before being killed at an early age. They are made to stay in small kennels with no bedding, no exercise other than race training and no companionship. The lack of companionship and the lack of bedding to support their lean bodies is particularly hard on greyhounds. The Canidrome's track is hard and dangerous, and greyhounds sustain frequent and severe injuries on a regular basis. If they do not place among the first three in five consecutive races, they are simply euthanised with a lethal injection then incinerated. There is no viable rehoming program at the Canidrome, and no greyhounds leave alive. The owners of the Canidrome are known for their lack of compassion in their treatment of these highly intelligent dogs, making the animals suffer repeatedly, endlessly and needlessly.
ANIMA Macau has been working to get the Canidrome Stadium closed for many years and has been supported in this aim by Grey2K USA and Animals Australia. As of April 2016, a huge movement in Europe has also been supporting ANIMA, protesting against the sending of Irish greyhounds to the Canidrome and asking the Irish Government to make it illegal for greyhounds to be sent to Macau. The protesters have used petitions, mass email drops, demonstrations and media coverage to make it absolutely clear that this cruelty has to stop. Ricky Gervais and Virginia McKenna are two celebrities who have been featured in the press opposing the sending of Irish greyhounds to Macau and highlighting the Irish Government's inadequate response to the issue.
The protesters have also asked airlines to follow the example set by Qantas and Cathay Pacific. Lufthansa, which is believed to have transported six greyhounds to Hong Kong to be sent to the Canidrome in April 2016, has refused, claiming it cannot be responsible for the destination of the animals it transports and advising protesters to refer to the relevant authorities. A petition signed by more than 185,000 people was delivered to them on 6th June, 2016.
Qatar Airways was set to transport 24 greyhounds from Heathrow to Macau on 12th May, 2016. Thanks to the vigilance of the Animal Reception Centre of Heathrow Airport and the airline itself, these dogs did not fly. Their transport cages were deemed to be too flimsy to withstand the transport. The dogs were taken back to Ireland by their owner. Rescue Centres all over Britain and Ireland were ready to take on these dogs and put them into their adoption programmes. However, on inspection by a vet, it was decided that there were no legal grounds to remove the dogs from his care.
On 26th May 2016, a joint statement was released by the Irish Government, the Irish Greyhound Board and the International Greyhound Forum, saying that they had met and were exploring avenues to prevent Irish greyhounds being sent to jurisdictions with poor welfare standards. However, until they actually make any regulatory and statutory changes, Irish greyhounds are at grave risk of being sent to Macau and other locations where their welfare is severely compromised.
The Canidrome Stadium is unpopular with local residents and is making little profit. Hence, its future is very uncertain. If it cannot source greyhounds to replace those already racing in the stadium when they are no longer able to race, its future may well be sealed.
On 21 July 2016, the Gaming and Inspection Bureau (DICJ) of Macau, Paulo Martins Chan, met with representatives of the Canidrome, later it was announced that the government is presenting the greyhound racing facility with an ultimatum: close down or move to another site in two years.