On April 3, 2022, Taiwan’s Ministry of Agriculture, which is in charge of animal protection, held a founding ceremony for its newly established Pet Management Department.
It is reported that the 154 smuggled cats which were euthanized in August 2021 were the catalyst for the rapid establishment of this department. As the department was established in a very short period of time, it was too late to prepare a budget for this financial year, and the expenditure came from a special reserve. All staff were recruited from other departments. Although there are many kinds of pets, the Pet Management Department currently focuses on dogs and cats, and hopes to effectively regulate the pet industry including food, clothing, housing, transportation, breeding and entertainment, and to write a law for them.
In order to prevent the recurrence of the tragic case of 154 smuggled cats, the Pet Management Department plans to build a biographical management mechanism that can track the source of trade records of pets, similar to the production history of agricultural crops, so that trades related to illegal and smuggled animals can no longer be hidden.
In addition, the problem of “exotic pets”, such as green iguanas and raccoons, which may cause ecological crises, has finally been taken into account seriously, and the Pet Management Department will first trace the various species sold in the market, and then establish a white list of those that can be kept, and a black list of those that are strictly prohibited, so as to carry out a classification and grading management system.
The founding ceremony was attended by Tsai Ing-wen, a parent of four dogs and two cats. She was initially puzzled by the definition of “pet” in the Pet Management Department because she believed that “whatever animals we live with are our companions and care for each other’s emotions, and may be referred to as pets.” She has high expectations for the Pet Management Department and hopes that it can take animal-friendliness as its core value and bring together the energy of all sectors of society to be responsible for the management and care of pets at all stages of their lives and to build a better animal welfare system.
Compared to Tsai’s sentimental words, Chen Chi-chung, the Minister of Agriculture, has a very pragmatic calculation. He said that there are 2.5 million pets in Taiwan, growing at a rate of 10% per year, and it is estimated that by 2040, there will be 12 million pets in Taiwan, creating a market value far greater than today’s $50 billion, and it may be necessary to set up the Pet Management Department to manage.
The World Dog Alliance (WDA) is pleased to see that Taiwan officials attach importance to companion animals and are willing to take care of domestic dogs and cats in all aspects and build a perfect welfare system for them. However, we also hope that the nearly 160,000 homeless stray dogs will not be overlooked, although they hardly seem to contribute to the pet industry, they are the group that needs human care and assistance the most!