Sat, Feb 04, 2017 - Page 1 News List

Animal euthanasia ban goes into effect

By Hung Jui-chin and William Hetherington  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

Tainan Mayor William Lai, standing third right, announces the establishment of an animal welfare fund in Tainan yesterday.

Photo: Hung Jui-chin, Taipei Times

A new policy prohibiting stray animal euthanasia went into effect nationwide today, but some officials expressed pessimism regarding the regulation.

Tainan, which was the first city in Taiwan to stop euthanizing stray cats and dogs, is to place such animals in schools and care homes for elderly people, as well as at security firms and police stations as service animals, Tainan Mayor William Lai (賴清德) said.

Lai called on the Council of Agriculture and the Tainan Animal Health Inspection and Protection Office to devise creative policies to humanely handle the city’s strays.

The office said that private shelters in Tainan last year took in more than 3,000 stray animals from other counties and municipalities.

Lai has asked that the practice be stopped, saying that Tainan must care for its own strays first and the city would be happy to help other local governments by sharing its experiences.

Tainan has reduced the number of strays from 14,889 in 2010 to 8,432 last year, the office said, adding that the number of strays in Tainan dropped from 9,195 in 2012 to 3,817 last year.

The rate of animal adoption in Tainan has grown from 13.4 percent in 2010 to 66.5 percent last year, it said.

Ending euthanasia relies heavily on increasing the adoption rate of stray animals, the office said.

Tainan has been largely successful with its policies to train strays as service animals and its regulations regarding neutering of strays, as well as vaccinations and chip implants for registered pets, the office said.

Lai said it was important for the public to work with the city government and to not abandon pets.

Tainan was the first city in the nation to implement a trap/neuter/vaccinate/return (TNVR) program in 2011.

The city euthanized 8,400 animals before ending the practice in 2015, the office said.

The mayor also announced that Tainan will invest NT$180 million (US$5.8 million) in a “pet exercise and education park,” where the public can learn how to train pets and learn about animal protection.

The park, which is to be the first component of a seven-part animal protection initiative that Lai announced yesterday, is expected to open in 2019.

Lai said that the outdoor facility will not be a shelter, but rather a place where pets can exercise and owners can be educated.

The park will be the first of its kind in the nation, Lai said.

Meanwhile, Hualien County Animal Disease Control Center Director Shen Chia-i (沈家益) said that completely ending the euthanasia of strays would be impossible, the Chinese-language Apple Daily reported.

The new policy might cause animal shelters to exceed capacity as people continue abandoning pets, a trend that might accelerate, Shen said.

In Hualien last year, 809 of the 1,078 animals that were adopted were taken in by animal welfare organizations, he said, adding that the adoption rate of strays among the public remained low at about 20 percent.

Animal shelters have reached capacity, despite stray dogs remaining on the streets, Shen said, adding that shelters had euthanized dogs that had infectious disease or severe injuries.

Hsinchu City Animal Protection and Health Inspection Office Director Yang Chu-yuan (楊礎遠) said his office is nearing capacity, with 81 dogs and 47 cats in its care.

Yilan Agriculture Department Deputy Director-General Chen Wen-chin (陳文進) said his department regularly operates at near capacity.

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