Twenty purebred dogs, all with their vocal cords cut, were found abandoned on the southern bank of the Pachang Creek (八掌溪) on the border of Tainan and Chiayi counties on Monday, the Tainan County Animal Disease Control Center said yesterday.
It marked the worst case of dog abandonment in recent years, the center said.
Three of the dogs were dead when Chiayi Wild Birds Association chair Chen Chian-hua (陳建樺) found them on a routine observation tour along the river bank.
But since news of the discovery was featured in the media, 14 of the surviving dogs have been adopted.
“I was at the end of my observation trip when I saw a group of stray dogs in the middle of an abandoned rice farm. They were clearly previously domesticated animals, because they gathered quickly and orderly as soon as I approached and summoned them,” Chen said.
Among the 20 were a Welsh Corgi, a Dachshund, a Spitz, while the rest were Shiba Inus of various colors, Chen said, adding that most of the dogs had skin diseases “possibly from living in cramped cages in a breeding farm.”
Chen said he suspected that the three dead dogs were crushed to death by the others when they were placed in cramped cages, “possibly when they were being transported from the farm to the river bank.”
Asked if he had spotted more stray dogs on his daily observation trips, Chen said yes, “especially since the economy began to suffer.”
“Domesticated animals have no survival skills. When I discovered the 20 dogs, one was eating the feces of another,” he said.
“The dogs were all mild-tempered. They have probably lived all their lives in a breeding farm caged, eating everyday and waiting to breed,” he said.
Abandoning dogs in the wild also disturbs the ecosystem, Chen said.
“I have spotted many cases in which newly hatched baby birds are eaten by stray dogs. It’s sad for both sides — for the birds who are eaten and for the dogs who have nothing else to eat,” he said.
The Animal Protection Act (動物保護法) stipulates that people who abandon dogs and disturb the local ecosystem are subject to fines of up to NT$150,000; those that cause death or severe injury to dogs face a prison sentence of up to one year Chen said.
“However, it is often hard to catch these violators, especially if the dogs are not registered and chipped,” he said.
Chen said that dog owners should have a better sense of responsibility and understand that they have to take care of their pets for life.
“People have done enough damage to the wildlife habitat; the least we can do is keep our dogs in our homes,” he said.