Taiwan’s Authority Censured for Mishandling Stray Dogs

The facilities of public shelters in Taiwan have improved considerably following a huge investment.

In 2021, a number of animal protection groups in Taiwan filed a complaint with the supervisory body on the grounds that “Penghu, Chiayi and Changhua counties have long ignored the poor conditions of public animal shelters”.

The findings of the investigation released in July 2022 pointed out that the “Agriculture Commission” had mishandled the problem of stray dogs, which could be divided into four major parts:

  1. The huge annual funding allocated to deal with the problem of stray dogs, but the failure to manage the problem at source, and the failure to implement a pet registration system for almost 30 years, has led to an increase in the number of stray dogs instead of a decrease, with over 150,000 dogs to date.

According to a survey conducted by Tian Qiuxin, the Agriculture Commission has set aside $414.06 million for animal protection operations in 2021, of which $234.73 million will be used to improve public shelter facilities, but the total capacity of public shelters in Taiwan is only 8,064, which is disproportionate to the number of stray dogs. It is therefore necessary for the animal protection authorities to understand and manage the quality of private shelters. The Pet Registration System has been in place for over 20 years and the Animal Protection Act provides that owners who fail to register their pets are liable to a maximum fine of $15,000, but over the years there has been little action to investigate and impose fines.

  1. The number of dogs in legal breeding facilities cannot be controlled and illegal breeding facilities are not actively investigated and eliminated.

As of the end of 2021, there were 1,236 breeders in Taiwan, with 2,547 male dogs and 10,013 female dogs being bred, but since there is no record of the number of dogs sold, the whereabouts of the dogs are unknown. It is hoped that the Agriculture Commission will improve the pet management system as soon as possible, so that breeding and trading records can be made electronic and that the system can automatically detect illegal patterns and report them.

  1. Some public shelters have been failing to euthanise seriously injured or ill animals for a long time, leaving them in great pain and suffering, which is a serious breach of animal welfare.

After the implementation of the “zero-fighting” system, veterinary surgeons in public shelters are under great psychological pressure to kill dogs, so that they do not euthanise seriously ill or injured dogs, leaving them to die a painful and natural death. The Monitoring Committee believes that this is the result of the failure of the Agriculture Committee to educate shelter veterinarians, the media and the general public about the issue.

  1. The assessment of the public animal shelters was only a written review and no on-site inspections were carried out, thus failing to identify the real deficiencies of the shelters.

Because of the bias in the way public shelters are assessed and the lack of on-site inspections, there is a lack of real understanding of the care and management of the animals and the cleanliness of the environment.

Editor’s Note:

Although the monitoring body’s reprimand has no practical effect, I hope that the Agriculture Commission will learn from its mistakes and improve its responsibilities before it is upgraded to a Ministry of Agriculture.