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Way animals are dealt with “makes no sense for anybody”

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The battle for animal rights goes on for Albano Martins, a well-known economist and president of the Society for the Protection of Animals (ANIMA) in Macau. During a press conference held on Saturday at the ANIMA headquarters, the president made clear why the way animals are dealt with in Macau “makes no sense for anybody”. Not for the government, who “wastes money”, nor for the population, whose money is being wasted and who receive “a very bad (moral) example”, and even less for the animals, who are “abandoned and killed.”
The only ones winning from the current lack of animal protection are the pet shops. They provide a continuous “supply of animals”, sell them to anybody “without registration” and, as “abandoning an animal is not punished”, can always go on selling them. Albano Martins and his animal protection association are fighting to put an end to a vicious circle, and only changes in the law can help to do so. The modifications Mr Martins asks the government to undertake refer to the shops and to animal owners. At the same time, the organization recently directed an open letter to the Civic and Municipal Affairs Bureau (IACM), which has killed “7,522 dogs and 1,820 cats from 2003 until 2012”, requesting the bureau to work together with them in finding a solution to the large colonies of abandoned animals in Macau.
In a previous letter directed to the Secretary for Administration and Judicial Affairs, Florinda Chan, in October, the economist made clear, “We want less animals in the streets, just like IACM, but in a rational and pragmatic way, attacking the real problems.” He explains that “a lack of laws and regulations” allows “a group of citizens to continue dumping animals in our streets or just abandon them in the Municipal Kennel without any limitations or punishment.” Therefore, ANIMA requests that the changes made to the law should include the lowering of the cost of a dog license from MOP 500 to MOP 100, registration being for free for cats, but paying MOP 1000 for a dog and MOP 200 for a cat if the pets are not spayed/neutered. This license includes the consultation, a microchip and rabies vaccination for each animal. It has to be renewed annually. As to those sold in pet shops, if the new changes are applied, the shops would have to register sold animals. “Thus, if they are abandoned, we can see who did it”, Mr Martins argues. The abandonment of an animal should be considered a “very serious infraction”, subject to a fine of between MOP10,000 and MOP60,000. In this way, “People would think twice before abandoning, and also before buying, an animal”, the ANIMA president believes.
Furthermore, someone who still abandons their pet “should not be allowed to have a new one for five years”, because at the moment the situation is the following: “People can take their animal to the kennel or leave them in the streets and register a new one the very next day.” Thus, he argues, a change in the law would “reduce the number of abandoned animals immediately.” Albano Martins also demands that a definition of “cruelty” against animals should be included in the regulation, which would also incorporate “abandonment”, as well as a fine for every infraction for the above-mentioned amount. Furthermore, pet shops are requested to sell animals “only older than three months”, a regulation that exists in many other countries, “only not in Macau”, he states.

Animals sheltered at ANIMA (300 dogs and 100 cats)

The excessive number of abandoned pets in Macau becomes clear when one visits the animal shelter located in Coloane. Founded in 2003, ANIMA meanwhile shelters 400 animals, namely 300 dogs and 100 cats, and even includes a rabbit hutch. “We need the help of IACM”, the ANIMA president stays. “But killing is not a solution!” Mr Martins refers to the part IACM plays in the vicious circle; namely, the department’s lead kennel “kills at request, and thus allows people to buy new pets and get rid of them whenever and as often as they want. They can do this 1 million times!” This is why the economist is indignant: “They don’t tell them them, ‘Maybe you should not be an owner!’”. He also disapproves of IACM’s method of killing animal colonies in “free enterprise”, and not just for its “inhuman approach”: “They destroy our money!” He explains, “We go and de-sex these animals. The government gives us money for that. And they go and kill them!” He stresses that these creatures are “not aggressive” and do not pose any “danger to society.”
Another ongoing battle between ANIMA and IACM constitutes the greyhounds in the Canidrome. The association has been trying since March to deal with the company that holds dog races (controlled by casino operator SJM), in order to establish an adoption program for retired greyhounds. Again, a measure to replace killing them. But all ANIMA’s efforts have been in vain, “They didn’t do anything.” Only “three, four days ago, they sent us a three page registration form for people to apply to adopt a dog.” Mr Martins holds up the document, which “took 9 months” to obtain, and now “supposes ANIMA should take care of it.” In a previous letter to the Chief Executive, the animal welfare activist asked the government to “stop that business by 2015, when their concession finishes.” After all, the Canidrome area is also a “densely populated one, where houses and parks for citizens could be built.” Letters have also been sent to the Prime Minister of Australia, asking “not to export these animals to Macau”. Another effort in the pursuit of “minimal protection for animals” will be to send a letter to the Commission against Corruption (CCAC) to “recommend” the government alters the way the problem is dealt with. Repeating the essential changes, Mr Martin states: “We want a law to protect animals, we want the Canidrome to start an adoption program by themselves, and we ask the government not to renew the concession.”

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