Sat, Mar 02, 2002 - Page 2 News List

Taiwan's animal shelters slammed over conditions

POOR TREATMENT Saying some dogs at the nation's pounds are so hungry they've resorted to cannibalism, animal protection activists attacked officials for lax regulatory enforcement

DPA , TAIPEI

The principal of Taipei City's Municipal Hsisung Senior High School holds Little Kuai, one of three stray dogs adopted by the high school, in this file photo from September 2000. Most of the nation's strays, however, are not so fortunate, as a recent visit to a pound demonstrated to animal rights activists.

PHOTO: AP

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 (悟泓), chairman of the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (台灣動物社會研究會).

"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 (齊淑英), vice secretary general of the Life Conservationist Association (關懷生命協會). "Those which ate the corpses of other dogs were near starvation."

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.

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