Mon, May 01, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Environmental agency looking to clean up the streets

By Chung Li-hua  /  STAFF REPORTER

The abrupt exit of an elderly Japanese couple from the "long-stay" program in Puli (埔里), Nantou County, over unsanitary conditions in March continues to make waves.

A program to attract foreign visitors to rural communities for long-term stays got off to a rocky start when the couple -- members of a pilot long-stay program conducted by the Tourism Bureau -- left in a huff, complaining that Puli's streets were strewn with dog feces.

The Environmental Protection Administration recently took action to restore Taiwan's tarnished image as a country littered with doggy dung with its "Dog Feces Criteria."

The criteria state that communities at the village level will be penalized if more than 55 piles of canine excrement are counted within their borders.

Administration officials plan to conduct village surveys in the near future, and will alert local environmental protection departments and report villages to district authorities if they exceed their 55-pile dog poop allowance.

Such a citation could affect villages' eligibility for certain government funds. Beginning today, the administration is also requesting that county and city governments issue heavy fines (NT$1,600 -- NT$6,000) to pet owners who do not clean up after their pooches. What's more, the administration has allocated NT$2 million to local governments to be used to install video surveillance cameras in certain public areas to keep an eye on pet owners.

Liu Jui-hsiang (劉瑞祥), an official in the Bureau of Environmental Sanitation and Toxic Chemicals Control in the administration told the Liberty Times, (the Taipei Times' sister newspaper), that the 55-pile limit for villages was calculated according to the total number of dogs and villages in the country, and is modeled after regulations promulgated by the Taipei City Government.

Taiwan's domesticated and stray dogs total 1.3 million; on average, the country's 7,800 villages are each home to 160 dogs, one-third of which defecate wherever they please, Liu said.

Based on these figures, the bureau decided to set the limit of dog waste piles at 55 per village, Liu said.

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