The Council of Agriculture yesterday extended a ban on cats and dogs at national forest recreational areas for two years, starting tomorrow, to prevent the spread of rabies.
Rabies can be transmitted between animals and humans, and causes acute inflammation in the brain and the central nervous system, making animals more aggressive, but vaccination can prevent infections, the council said.
The ban, which was renewed for a year last year, would last until July 31, 2020, excluding guide dogs for the blind, the Forestry Bureau said.
A petition submitted last year on the National Development Council’s public policy petition platform had proposed that national forest parks should allow owners to take their pets that have rabies vaccination certificates and chip implants, but the bureau rejected the petition, as the spread of the disease did not show any sign of slowing, it said.
As of last month, 51 cases of rabies have been reported across the nation, all in ferret-badgers, the bureau said, adding that two people in Hualien and one in Tainan were this month bitten by infected ferret-badgers.
While the number of cases this year did not increase significantly from last year, the disease was spotted in 82 townships in nine municipalities, three townships more than last year, the bureau said.
The disease is still restricted to mountainous areas and the ban aims to keep it from spreading further, it said.
Pet owners visiting Jhihben (知本) and Chihnan (池南) national forest recreational areas — in Taitung and Hualien counties respectively — can leave their pets at the service desks, and other recreational areas would launch similar services by the end of this year, the bureau said.
People who take their pets to the recreational areas could be fined between NT$50,000 and NT$1 million (US$1,634 and US$32,670) for contravening the Statute for Prevention and Control of Infectious Animal Disease (動物傳染病防治條例), the bureau said.
Visitors to the areas should avoid touching wild animals, the bureau said.
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