Sat, Mar 11, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Activist fury over dog shocker

BANEFUL CONDITIONS Animal rights advocates blasted the Taichung government for the overcrowding, starvation and mistreatment of stray dogs at a local shelter


A Taichung city councilor and animal rights groups yesterday slammed the Taichung City Government for its inaction over an animal shelter incident earlier this week that involved dogs eating the bodies of other dogs.

Dogs kept in the animal shelter in Taichung were found on Sunday to be feeding on the carcasses of other dogs out of hunger, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Taichung City Councilor Tseng Chao-jung (曾朝榮) said.

Tseng said that the incident was indicative of the lack of management at the shelter.

Tseng noted that the Environmental Protection Agency personnel in Taichung were under immense pressure to capture stray dogs to meet performance records.

According to the city's regulations, they must catch 45 dogs a day, which adds up to over a thousand dogs per month, said Huang Pi-chu (黃璧珠), head of the Taichung Universal Animal Protection Association.

Dogs caught by the agency are sent to the Taichung City Animal Health Inspection Center, Tseng said. However, there is not enough room at the animal shelter to accommodate all the strays.

Huang said that city regulations mandate that a dog brought to the shelter has to be treated for diseases and has a seven-day window for adoption.

However, owing to the large number of dogs at the shelter, not only did they not have enough food to eat, most were put to sleep before the seven-day period was over, Huang said.

Wu Lung-tai (吳龍泰), the director of the inspection center, apologized for the incident and resolved to hire more people to manage the shelter as well as to monitor and evaluate the health of the dogs at the shelter.

Animal rights advocate Chen Chien-chung (陳憲忠) said that if Taichung Mayor Jason Hu (胡志強) couldn't even take care of his city's dogs, a case of "panda-eating-panda" might be next.

Chen made the remarks in reference to China's offer of a pair of pandas to Taiwan following then-chairman of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Lien Chan's (連戰) trip to China.

While the Taiwanese government has not accepted the offer, both the Taipei and Taichung city governments have actively sought to house the pandas.

Both Tseng and Huang said they were displeased with the environmental department's attitude and that changes have not been made so far.

Tseng said that the shelter remained unkempt and local animal rights activists are gathering next Thursday to protest.

Huang said that the city did not have an especially large number of stray dogs compared with other cities in the country.

"The dogcatchers just capture every dog they see on the street, even house pets," she said.

"They say they only take the larger ones for safety reasons, but when we went to to the shelter, we saw only one dog that was over 15kg," she added.

Tseng said the only way to improve the situation is to have better regulations governing stray dogs.

The central and local governments should promote the usage of implanted identification chips for pets, he said.

The public also need to be taught not to abandon their pets, Tseng said.

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