On December 2, a 3-year-old boy was killed by a Pit Bull dog in Pingtung county, Taiwan. The police sent the dog owner to the court on suspicion of negligence causing death, and the pit bull was moved to animal shelter, waiting for the Agriculture Bureau to decide on whether to euthanize it in 2 weeks. Many people believe that it was not the dog’s fault, especially after the shelter volunteers found its personality very gentle. Upon countless petition letters from animal lovers, the governor of Pingtung, Mr. Pan Meng-an has agreed to send the dog to foster. A number of animal protection groups plan to build a special shelter for the Pit Bulls, which are to be banned next year.
The boy was attacked by the chained Pit Bull while his mother was out, and died of injuries after being taken to the hospital. The investigation found out that the dog was not registered as a pet, neutered, or vaccinated for rabies. The owner, who has violated the Animal Protection Act, was sent to the police on suspicion of wrongful death. Since the owner has no intention of continuing to keep the Pitbull, the dog was sent to a shelter. The county’s Department of Agriculture said it would evaluate whether to euthanize it, while some media used the term “dog murderer” in their coverage.
Due to the repeated accidents caused by Pit Bulls in recent years, the Agriculture Commission started to evaluate whether to ban the importation and breeding of Pit Bulls in August 2020, and announced in October 2021 that the practices will be banned on March 1, 2022, labelling Pit Bulls the most dangerous dog breed. Surprisingly, after the boy’s death, the Internet was flooded with petitions for the Pit Bull. Some said, “He was chained around his neck and kept in a poor environment, so it was obviously the owner’s fault.” Some even started a one-person-one-letter campaign, asking people to plead with the governor of Pingtung.
In particular, after the shelter volunteers said that the dog was gentle and loving, and named him “Thor”, the influx of letters of sympathy made the governor finally change his mind and was willing to give him a chance to be adopted.
However, Pit Bull is classified as a dangerous dog, which needs to be put on a leash no longer than 1.5 meters and muzzled when leaving the house, and has to be accompanied by an adult. These regulations set a high bar for owners, and since the announcement of the ban, shelters stop bringing in this dog breed. Hence, the number of abandonment cases has increased dramatically, and their fate is really worrying.
Fortunately, some animal protection groups are trying to tackle the problem. A shelter of Animal Protection Association (APA) has offered to provide a separate room for Thor to live in, with dedicated caregivers. The long term solution is for the government and the public to work together to set up a special facility where dangerous breeds like Pit Bulls can be trained and corrected and have the opportunity to become part of our family again.
The Taiwan Agriculture Commission has labelled six types of dogs as “dangerous dogs that require special regulation”, including Pitbull, Japanese Tosa, Neapolitan Mastiff, Dogo Argentino, Fila Brasileiro, and Mastiff. These dog breeds must be accompanied by an adult in public venues, and must be leashed and muzzled. Violations are subjected to a fine penalty of NT$30,000 to NT$150,000. As for the Pit Bulls banned from March 2022, those who are currently keeping them must complete the registration before February 28, 2023, and violators will be fined for NT$50,000 to NT$250,000.