Sat, Dec 15, 2007 - Page 1 News List

Lawmakers pass overhaul of law on animal rights

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

The legislature overhauled the Animal Protection Act (動物保護法) yesterday, introducing better protection of animal rights as well as tougher fines and prison sentences for those who abuse or abandon animals.

The amendment also defines animal abuse for the first time, stipulating that any "violence, undue use of drugs or other behavior that harms animals or prevents them from maintaining normal physiological functions" is considered abuse.

According to the amendment, animal owners are required to provide vaccinations for their animals in addition to satisfying their basic needs such as food, water and protection from harassment and abuse.

Also included is a new requirement for the government to provide public play areas for pets.

The amendment clarifies the ban on killing "pets" for meat or fur by specifying dogs and cats as pets.

It also bans inhumane methods of slaughtering livestock.

The amendment, however, allows for the killing of animals that pose "immediate danger" to a person's life, health, freedom or property or to public security.

It also requires pet breeders to renew their licenses every three years, while authorizing the government to inspect their facilities.

According to the amendment, anyone who abuses or causes serious harm to animals or kills a dog or cat may be fined between NT$100,000 and NT$500,000 -- double the fine before the bill was passed. Photographs and names of violators may be published as part of the punishment.

Violators who repeat their offense within two years may be fined between NT$200,000 and NT$1 million (US$30,800).

Upon a third violation within five years, violators may be sentenced to one year in prison and be fined up to NT$1 million.

Anyone who uses live animals as game prizes or sells dead dogs or cats may be fined between NT$50,000 and NT$250,000 and have his or her name and/or photograph made public. This means that vendors who offer hamsters and rabbits as game prizes at night markets will be subject to fines if they do not cease the practice.

The amendment also introduces tighter penalties for people who abandon animals.

Abandoning an animal that could negatively affect the ecosystem is punishable by a fine of NT$30,000 to NT$150,000.

Abandoning animals not detrimental to the ecosystem is punishable by a fine of between NT$15,000 and NT$75,000.

The same fines will apply to animal owners who fail to provide adequate medical care for sick or injured pets or livestock after having been warned by the government.

The amendment also empowers the government to remove animals from an owner's care where there is evidence of abuse or negligence.

In addition, if owners neglect to control their animals and this results in damage to the property of others, authorities may confiscate the animals.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Hsiao Bi-khim (蕭美琴), one of the proponents of the amendment, called it "a humane and progressive bill."

"The amendment helps Taiwan improve not only its international image but also animal protection in the country," she said.

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