Taiwan animal-rights activists yesterday lambasted conditions at government-run dog shelters, saying some animals at one pound were even resorting to cannibalism.
Recent inspections at one shelter on the east coast revealed neglect and horrific conditions for dogs that were left so hungry they began to eat other dogs in the compound.
"Dogs were gnawing on the corpses of other dogs, but one of the dogs being bitten was still alive," said Wu Hung (
"I can't believe this is still happening after the government enacted the Animal Protection Law four years ago."
Wu was one of several activists from different animal-rights organizations who went to inspect a kennel at Hualien County's Chian township this month and found sub-standard conditions, with many of the dogs cramped together in unsanitary conditions.
Taiwan has long been under fire from international media for the mistreatment of stray dogs. Although the passing of the Animal Protection Law in 1998 brought some improvement, more needs to be done, animal lovers say. An estimated 660,000 to one million stray dogs are roaming the streets of the nation.
The campaigners urged the Council of Agriculture, which is responsible for dog shelters, to improve conditions.
They also provided video footage from the shelter showing gaunt dogs biting chunks out of each other, as well as dog carcasses rotting on floors awash with blood and canine excrement.
"The dogs were left without food and water," said Chi Shu-ing (
Chi said she was enraged about the situation at the compound as local authorities had sufficient funds to feed the dogs.
Meanwhile, the agriculture council's Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine said that it had already sent an official to Hualien to investigate the matter and had fired two workers at the shelter.
The bureau also said since 1998 some NT$6 million had been invested in setting up the dog shelter in Chian alone and that another NT$3 million had been used for its administration.
"It's not enough to punish the workers, high-ranking officials need to take responsibility," animal-rights activist Chi said, pointing out that conditions at some other shelters were equally appalling and needed to be improved quickly.