Educating the public on responsible pet ownership and animal welfare is one of the main goals for Animals Taiwan (AT) this year, the organization said on Saturday, urging the public to help solve the problem of stray animals by adopting homeless animals rather than buying pets from shops.
AT was established five years ago and last year, the organization, which relies mostly on the work of volunteers from both the local and expatriate communities, became a government-registered non-profit group.
“What we would like to do this year is hold more classes at our rescue center to educate pet owners on how best to interact with their pets, how to handle their pets’ various emotions, animal nutrition and other topics,” AT secretary-general Rosa Huang (黃蘊茹) said.
Huang said that in addition to rescue work, promoting the catch-neuter-release system of dealing with the stray population, and matching strays with new homes, the organization hopes to expand its education program by reaching out to schools from kindergarten to university level.
College teacher Kim Philips and other volunteers have designed a curriculum to teach students about responsible pet ownership, reasons to adopt rather than buy pets, and the problems with mass dog producers known as puppy mills.
The project also aims to inspire youths to volunteer.
Several schools, including Taipei American School and Taipei European School, have worked with AT in the past, with students visiting the center to volunteer and learn to care for animals.
Philips said the organization hoped the Ministry of Education and Council of Agriculture would help distribute information on animal welfare.
Huang said one of AT’s long-term goals was to push for legislation requiring all would-be pet owners to complete a course on pet handling before being allowed to care for an animal.
“But we know that would be a very difficult goal to accomplish. So for the moment we hope to expand the education aspect [of our work] to tell more people how they can help reduce the stray animal population,” she said.
Information on animal welfare, volunteering for AT and inviting an AT speaker to your school or organization can be found online at animalstaiwan.org.