Wed, Dec 06, 2017 - Page 13 News List

Saving Kevin Bacon and other rescue missions

Under new management, The PACK Sanctuary animal shelter is shifting its focus to adoption, education and collaboration with other animal organizations to create an ‘animal welfare community’

By Han Cheung  /  Staff Reporter

Caroline Walshe, site manager for The Pack Sanctuary, plays with a couple of dogs in one of the fenced gardens at the animal shelter.

Photo: Han Cheung, Taipei Times

Kevin Bacon was rescued two weeks ago from a roadside cage in New Taipei City.

He’s now resting and rehabilitating in a shipping container full of hay in the mountains near Taiwan’s north coast, eating proper meals and getting stronger by the day. Soon, he’ll be introduced to the other eight pigs who live at The PACK Sanctuary.

The operation to save Kevin’s bacon was the first ever joint venture between the Taiwan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (TSPCA) and PACK, another step toward new director Tim Gorski’s goal to collaborate and build community with other animal welfare organizations in Taiwan.

Video by Sofia Kuan

“Until I stepped in to PACK, I felt there was kind of a competitive behavior among animal welfare groups in Taiwan,” Gorski says. “I realize we’re all competing for funds, but this is not a competition. These are our comrades in arms, fighting for the same animals we are.”

A litter of puppies await adoption at The Pack Sanctuary animal shelter in New Taipei City.

Photo: Han Cheung, Taipei Times

Gorski, an animal activist filmmaker who has worked with and built many shelters took over PACK after founder Sean McCormack’s departure in early August. With more than 400 animals, including about 370 dogs, the place is at full capacity and Gorski hopes to focus on fostering, adoptions and educating the public. He’s made other changes with the shelter such as having weekly visits from a veterinarian.

“We’re like a bucket under a leaky faucet that is pouring out neglected and abused animals,” Gorski says. “Sean built a very nice, great, happy bucket. But we have no more room to [expand]. The biggest problems lie within the pet industry. That’s the problem we need to address, and teach people what’s bad about puppy mills.”

ADOPT, DON’T SHOP

PACK staff were relieved last week as the government finally handed them their fundraising license. For the past four months, the shelter could only accept passive donations, making it difficult to cover its monthly operating costs of NT$1 million.

The PACK Sanctuary CEO Tim Gorski inspects Kevin Bacon, a pig who was kept in a small cage for his entire life, during a joint rescue mission with TSPCA last month.

Photo: Han Cheung, Taipei Times

But despite trying to adopt out the animals, Gorski says the total number is increasing due to people leaving their dogs at the entrance. Tang Ming-hsiu (唐明秀), who is in charge of adoptions at PACK, says the adoption rate is slow at about three dogs per month.

She says people often have reservations about shelter animals because many of them are missing limbs or have emotional issues. Another problem is society’s preference for purebreds such as shibas, corgis and red poodles.

Since October, veterinarians from Dr QQ Veterinarian Clinic have been visiting The PACK Sanctuary once a week to care for the shelter’s animals.

Photo: Han Cheung, Taipei Times

“The biggest issue, however, is the size of Taipei apartments,” she says. “People say they want to help, but they can only take a 5kg dog. That rules out 98 percent of our animals.”

Despite having so many animals, site manager Caroline Walshe and a handful of staff members personally feed the dogs every day. She knows most of the residents, which are mostly grouped by temperament in large fenced gardens with plenty of vegetation and shelter.

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