Sun, Sep 14, 2008 - Page 2 News List

FEATURE: Animal rescue faces crisis due to funding shortage

By T.C. Jiang  /  CNA

Compared with the SPCA, Tung said his association has support only from a few private companies.

“The SPCA has more than 100 staffers, while the LCO has only 14,” he said.

The LCO carries out rescue activities with seven rescue vehicles bearing the name “Cat Dog 119” in Chinese. The number 119 is the local emergency telephone number.

Besides the lack of government funding, the organization has also suffered because of a sharp drop in public donations caused by soaring inflation and other diversions, Tung said.

Taiwanese donated about NT$1.2 billion (US$37.6 million) after the May 12 earthquake that devastated the southwestern Chinese province of Sichuan, cutting into the funds they might have donated to other charities, including the LCO, Tung said.


PAYMENTS

Tax payments in May to July and school tuition payments in early September also caused private donations to dry up, Tung said.

While the association will continue to seek funding from other government agencies, it is turning to local enterprises and institutions for help in the meantime.

It has also asked the public to donate recyclables or unused goods to help raise funds.

Tung said the association could raise NT$100,000 to NT$200,000 by selling the donated goods. But even that may not be enough to keep the service open.

The association’s monthly expenses amount to NT$700,000 to NT$1 million, most of which is used to save animals or treat those that have been rescued, Tung said.

If the rescue service comes to an end next month, under existing law, cats or dogs saved by government workers such as firefighters will be killed if no one adopts them within seven days.

“People are trying very hard to save these animals, but in the end, these animals are just put to sleep,” he said.

To get to the root of this problem, experts said it was important to educate the public to be more responsible about owning pets and urge people not buy pets on a whim if they are not prepared to care for them when they grow older.

In an indication that at least some local governments are waking up to the problem of strays and animal neglect — a problem that hurts Taiwan’s image as an advanced and developed country, especially as it hopes to attract more tourists — the Taipei City Government in July began working with two local animal hospitals to provide rescue services.

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