[Taiwan Spotlight] Authorities aim settlement for diagnosed owners’ pets amid pandemic

As the number of confirmed COVID cases surges in Taiwan, many pets are left unattended. Authorities responsible for animal protection are putting out plans to settle the pets. The New Taipei City Government Animal Protection and Health Inspection Office is working with pet hotels to offer luxury accommodations costing 300 NTD per day. (photo from the authority)

The influence of COVID-19 upon Taiwan had been minor since its outbreak, but the tide changed on 15 May 2021, when the rise of confirmed cases forced Taipei and New Taipei into half lockdown under epidemic alert level 3, which was later extended to all areas of Taiwan on 24 May. All family members of any diagnosed person are required to live in quarantine hotels, leaving their pets unattended. Animal protection authorities are coming up with countermeasures. 

The Taipei City Animal Protection Office was the first to send a rescue team to pick up a magpie cat with a cage, as its family had all been diagnosed and quarantined. The Office urges citizens to promptly request friends to look after their pets ahead of quarantine, or contact the Office for urgent resettlement at 200 NTD per day, capped at 3000 NTD.

The animal protection office of New Taipei, in light of the highest number of confirmed cases in Taiwan, was concerned about temporary shelters being overloaded, and chose 5 pet hotels to offer accommodations for 56 cats and 56 dogs. The office may work with more pet hotels in the future as needed. To cover the costs and to pay for vets who regularly check on the pets’ respiratory system, each accommodation costs 300 NTD daily. Once a pet’s stay exceeds 14 days, it will be charged according to the price menu. 17 dogs, 7 cats and 3 birds have been accommodated as of 3 June.

Tainan City Animal Health Inspection and Protection Office offers care service for lone diagnosed citizens. They are sending policemen and village chiefs to feed the pets regularly and set up home camera systems. Even the Animal Disease Control Centre of Changhua County does not have a lot of funding, it still has purchased container houses to accommodate pets, charging a daily fee of 200 NTD.

As Taipei City and New Taipei City might raise the COVID restriction to level 4, which triggers a regional lockdown, the “Animal Protection Legislative Movement League”, joined by the World Dog Alliance, issued a statement on 1 June. They called upon the authorities and citizens to maintain a high standard of animal welfare during the lockdown period and follow the British government’s measures that allow owners to walk their dogs during scheduled exercises while maintaining a distance of 2 meters from other people, while cats should just stay indoors.

The League quoted the advice from Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) that citizens must not cover dogs with masks to prevent injuries. The chance of dogs being infected by COVID is extremely low. Owners should refrain from sterilizing the dogs with alcohol or chemical products, which are harmful to their health.