Animal rights activists accused government authorities yesterday of allowing widespread animal abuse to occur when strays are rounded up.
The Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (EAST) said that despite the passage of the Animal Protection Law (動物保護法) more than a decade ago, officials are turning a blind eye to cases of stray dogs and cats being denied water, food and proper care.
Nearly 900,000 stray animals have been picked up by local authorities over the past 10 years, EAST said. In the last year alone, 133,000 animals were collected and of this total 96,400 were put to death.
After visiting 326 facilities in a process that spanned three years, activists said that most stray animals were treated as waste and processed as such. They said that in many cases stray cats and dogs had not had anything to eat or drink in days. Many lay dying from a lack of care and fighting among the animals was common.
The group said a lack of management and accountability rather than funding was the main reason for such abuses.
They said that most abuse occurred at makeshift shelters where the pets were held before being sent off to larger permanent facilities.
“The authorities don’t adhere to the [Animal Protection Law] because they don’t care about this issue,” EAST officer Chen Yu-min (陳玉敏) said. “We are calling on the authorities to close down these makeshift shelters and implement stricter oversight on the other facilities.”
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇) backed the activists’ call.
“These problems occur because these animals don’t have the right to vote,” Tien said. “The fact that we let these abuses [continue for so long] showcases our lack of compassion for life.”
Officials from the Council of Agriculture (COA) promised to launch a thorough investigation and to introduce accountability into the system. However, they said that the responsibility for stray pets falls within the jurisdiction of local governments.
“We will launch a full investigation if abuses under the Animal Protection Law are occurring,” chief of the COA’s Livestock Administration Section Lin Chung-yi (林宗毅) said.
Facing questions about the urgency of the issue, Lin promised to deliver results within “a few weeks.”
In response, EAST said that if this investigation was not concluded on schedule, it planned to launch a series of nationwide protests.