Should stray dogs be fed? Taiwan’s animal and wildlife activists are at loggerheads

Stray dogs are a problem in most countries around the world, but it is rare to see a dispute over whether or not they should be fed, but in Taiwan, where animal welfare and pluralism are important, there is an online battle between stray dogs and wildlife advocates.

According to a government survey published in 2020, the number of stray dogs in Taiwan is estimated to be 155,869, as Taiwan has implemented a zero-kill policy since 2017. Some dog lovers also volunteer to take up the responsibility of feeding and providing medical treatment, and are known as loving parents.

The problem is that when stray dogs gather in groups, they inevitably chase cars and bite people, attack other dogs and cats and wild animals. People who support a ban on feeding stray dogs have the following arguments.

  • Stray dogs have a lifespan of two to three years, which can be extended to five or even ten years if they are fed.
  • It is because of the feeding that stray dogs are found in groups.
  • Dogs have a hunting instinct, and packs of stray dogs will hunt wild animals as a game, and when they are fed and have plenty of energy, they can be very deadly.

Animal protectionists, who defend stray dogs, argue against this.

  • Feeding is the only way to catch stray dogs for neutering, and neutering is the right measure to reduce the number of stray dogs.
  • Feeding makes it harder to manage stray dogs as they cluster and settle in one place and do not move around.
  • Starvation can cause stray dogs to feed on wild animals, adding to the danger.

Which side of the argument do you think is more valid? The good news is that after communication and negotiation, both sides have reached a basic consensus that stray dogs should be removed from conservation wildlife habitats as far as possible, so naturally they should not be fed, and that feeding in other areas should be done in accordance with the principles of public safety and hygiene.

The worrying thing is that the problem of stray dogs has not yet been solved, and stray cats have become a potential problem. According to the survey on the number of domestic dogs and cats in Taiwan by 2021 published by the Council of Agriculture, there will be over 1.23 million domestic dogs and 870,000 domestic cats, but between 2017 and 2021, the number of domestic dogs will drop from 1.7 to 1.23 million, while the number of domestic cats will increase by over 20%.