In an effort to uphold “dog rights,” the Ministry of the Interior last week sent notices to six counties and cities asking for non-aggressive and safe pets to be allowed in public parks.
The ministry said it has received complaints that prohibiting dogs from entering the parks infringes on freedom of movement for dogs and discriminates against animals, adding that the complaint specifically requested that Taipei, New Taipei City (新北市), Taoyuan County, Hsinchu City, Greater Taichung and Greater Tainan improve on this point of policy.
In response, Greater Tainan and Greater Taichung said they have already amended legal statutes concerning the issue, while Hsinchu City said it would also amend the city’s Regulations on Park Management and Autonomy (公園自治條例).
New Taipei City, Taoyuan County and Taipei said that as long as there were adequate precautionary measures, dogs and other pets were already allowed access to parks.
The regulations are set up by the local city or county governments and may have slight differences in different cities and counties.
According to Lin Chih-ying (林志穎), section chief of the Greater Tainan City Government’s Bureau of Park Management, the regulations clearly state that while those bringing dogs or other animals into parks and polluting the park could be fined between NT$1,500 and NT$4,500, nothing clearly states that dogs or other animals were prohibited from being brought into parks.
Although the fines were an addition to the original regulations in 2006, no fines had been given out over violations, Lin said, adding that the city government has even established five parks exclusively for dogs.
Meanwhile, Hsinchu City Government’s Department of Tourism said that while its regulations prohibit pets from entering parks, violators are not fined and the city even set up signs in parks telling owners to keep their pets leashed and clean up after them.
“We will heed the ministry’s notice and amend the regulations to allow pets to [legally] enter the parks,” the department said, adding that it hoped pet owners would also follow the regulations.
In Greater Taichung, Bureau of Construction director Mu Kuei-hsin (沐桂新) said that its Regulations Governing Park Greenways, Paths and Roadside Trees Management and Autonomy (公園綠地園道及行道樹管理自治條例), passed last week and slated to be implemented in the latter half of this year, already stated that “pets with adequate precautionary measures” were allowed to enter parks.
If residents of Greater Taichung wished to take their pets into parks prior to the implementation of the regulations, “we would counsel them not to, but won’t hand out fines if they do,” Mu said.
As for Taipei, Taipei City Government’s Parks and Street Lights Office director Chen Jia-chin (陳嘉欽) said its Regulations on Park Management and Autonomy, passed in 2006, already allows pets to be brought into parks.
“Dogs have to be leashed, owners have to clean up after their pets if they defecate within the parks and more aggressive dogs have to be muzzled,” Chen said.
New Taipei City Government’s Department of Agriculture also said there were no clear laws prohibiting pets to be brought into parks as long as adequate precautionary measures are taken.
As for Taoyuan County Government, it said that in accordance with its regulations, pets are allowed into parks on condition that they are leashed, that adequate precautionary measures are taken (including muzzles for large or aggressive pets) and that owners have to clean up after their pets.