Wed, Aug 16, 2006 - Page 2 News List

Agriculture council to stiffen penalties for animal abuse

PRISON TIME The COA plans to make animal abuse a criminal offense, meaning that violaters could face a jail term

By Flora Wang  /  STAFF REPORTER

Animal abusers may face criminal punishment for serious abuse in the future, the Council of Agriculture (COA) said yesterday.

According to the council's proposed amendment to the Animal Protection Act (動物保護法), those who cause intrusive harm to an animal or physical disability may be sentenced to one year in prison.

Wang Chung-shu (王忠恕), a technical specialist in the Animal Husbandry Department's husbandry administration section, told the Taipei Times that although discussions were still ongoing between the council and legal professionals over whether it was appropriate to add criminal punishment to the law, the council was firm in its decision.

INTERNET POSTING

Wang said the move came in response to a recent cat abuse case, in which a man who holds a master's degree abused a kitten and posted pictures of the abuse on Web sites in China.

The man's actions have drawn widespread public condemnation and prompted animal activists to plea for criminal penalties for animal abusers.

Wang said that those involved in mild animal abuse would face a penalty of up to NT$50,000, the same punishment mandated under the current regulation.

He added that the proposal also contained an emergency protection article for animals, allowing law enforcement officers to rescue abused animals under emergency circumstances without first obtaining a warrant.

He said the proposal was still under discussion, but senior officials at the council would like to send the proposal to the legislature as soon as possible.

ACTIVIST RESPONDS

Responding to the proposal, Chen Yu-min (陳玉敏), spokeswoman for the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan, an animal rights group, said that public discussions should be held to reach a concensus on the severity of the punishments.

The society believes that a better way to prevent animal abuse would be to add a law to the Criminal Code banning all abuse, she said, adding that studies from other countries showed that 80 percent of animal abusers often abused children and women as well.

She said the society would work with other civic groups and legislators to draft a "more serious amendment" to address more animal protection issues.

The Animal Protection Act was enacted in 1998. It is part of the country's administrative regulations, so the punishment for animal abusers is milder than that in other countries, according to the council.

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