Sun, Aug 24, 2014 - Page 1 News List

Student gets fine after tossing pet rabbit across field

By Tang Shih-ming, Wu Wei-kung and Jake Chung  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Hou Hsueh-chuan, secretary-general of Dayeh University in Changhua County, on Friday holds a dwarf rabbit that a female student tossed several meters across a field at Tsun Dong Elementary School in the county’s Datsun Township.

Photo: Tang Shih-ming, Taipei Times

A female college student has been given an NT$15,000 fine for repeatedly tossing a dwarf rabbit into the air and across a field.

The 21-year old, a Dayeh University student surnamed Chen (陳), received the fine after she was apparently filmed grabbing a grey dwarf rabbit by the ears, flinging it into the air and letting it drop to the ground several meters away in a field at Tsun Dong Elementary School in Changhua County’s Datsun Township (大村).

The footage showing Chen repeatedly tossing the animal was recorded by passersby and uploaded to the Internet, causing an instant uproar among netizens, some of whom called for hunting the college student down.

Officials from the Changhua County Animal Disease Control Center met with Chen on Thursday to get to the bottom of the situation.

They said that the pressure of the online comments and media attention had made the 21-year-old emotional.

Chen said she purchased the rabbit for NT$200 at a night market in April, adding that she was very fond of the creature.

She was quoted as saying that she had flung the rabbit out of concern that it was not getting enough exercise due to the recent sultry weather, stressing that she loved the rabbit very much and never meant to abuse it.

Chen emphasized that she had not in any way meant to be cruel to the animal, the officials said.

Although Chen said that she regretted her misconduct and vowed to never do it again, the center deemed her actions abusive and fined her.

Center Director Tung Meng-chih (董孟治) said that what Chen did to the rabbit violated the Animal Protection Act (動物保護法), which stipulates that animal abusers face fines of between NT$15,000 and NT$75,000 (US$500 and US$2,500).

He said Chen was given the minimum fine because she showed remorse over her actions.

Meanwhile, Dayeh University secretary-general Hou Hsueh-chuan (侯雪娟) said she visited Chen and her pet after the incident and said the rabbit was very lively and exhibited no signs of injuries.

Nonetheless, the university will convene a meeting on whether to punish Chen over the incident, Hou said, adding that the school would follow up on the issue and improve efforts to educate its students to love and protect animals.

“We hope that Chen has learned from the incident and will be more respectful of life,” Tung said.

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