Forty-two-year-old Hsiao Ka (小卡) and 62-year-old Kao Shih-hsiang (高世祥) may have very different lives, but they have one thing in common — an unreserved love of animals.
It was what brought Kao and Hsiao Ka together three years ago, prompting them to join 50 like-minded people to establish the “Cats and Dogs Rescue Fan Club” — the predecessor of “Hsiao Ka Cats and Dogs Rescue Fan Club” — in July 2011.
Over the course of the past two years, the club has helped neuter about 700 stray animals and taken in 300 dogs and 40 cats.
Photo: Chen Wei-tzu, Taipei Times
“I don’t worry about rabies at all,” Hsiao Ka said, referring to the recent cases that have brought the country’s 52-year-long rabies-free status to an end. “I routinely get rabies shots and all the stray animals we rescue get anti-rabies injections, are neutered and implanted with microchips.”
Hsiao Ka said it does not matter if some of the sheltered animals never find a new home, because she would always be there to look after them.
“All the furry children here are healthy, happy and disease-free,” she said.
She said her quest to save strays started with a street dog that she adopted called Ku Lo.
“Ku Lo was abducted by a stranger who chained her up in a room and tortured her for two weeks, leaving her with skull fractures and serious knife injuries to the abdomen and limbs,” Hsiao Ka said.
“Although Ku Lo managed to escape from the kidnapper and return home, the cruelty she was subjected to changed her completely,” she said. “Whenever she was chained, she would bark like crazy and keep knocking down stuff to try to free herself of the leash.”
To allow Ku Lo to live leash-free, Hsiao Ka moved from a small condo in New Taipei City’s (新北市) Sanchung District (三重) to a traditional three-section compound in Taoyuan County’s Dayuan Township (大園).
Four years ago, Hsiao Ka left Taoyuan for more than two months to join relief efforts in Greater Kaohsiung’s Liukuei Township (六龜) after the area was severely battered by Typhoon Morakot in August 2009.
“After not seeing me for weeks, Ku Lo must have thought that I had abandoned her so she decided to walk all the way from Dayuan to Sanchung via Provincial Highway No. 61 to find me,” Hsiao Ka said.
“However, she was only half-way there when she was fatally struck by a car,” she said, with tears in her eyes. “I wish I had taken her with me [to Liukuei].”
Following the accident, Hsiao Ka decided to extend her love for Ku Lo to other animals in distress, quitting her job to look after strays full-time.
For Kao, feeding stray animals has been an indispensable part of his life for years, though his kindness is sometimes criticized as a “cause of environmental mess.”
“I don’t mind criticism because different people have different views, but as far as I’m concerned, animals are also living creatures,” Kao said, adding that he is the type of person who cries for days if his pets get injured.
Kao said because he already has three grandchildren and a chihuahua at home, there is no space for him to take care of another dog.
Nevertheless, Kao has found other ways to reach out to animals on the street, such as by contributing NT$6,000 (US$200) a month to the club and helping take care of the animals there on a daily basis for the past two years.
“We should all live a meaningful life after retirement, rather than just sinking into the couch and watching TV all day,” Kao said.
Despite its members’ enthusiasm, the club has struggled financially because of the large number of animals it shelters and its limited source of income.
It is entirely dependent on donations from volunteers and netizens, as well as on the monthly allowance of NT$10,000 that Hsiao Ka receives from her husband.
“Every month, we need to pay NT$80,000 rent for the shelter and spend NT$60,000 on feeding the animals,” Hsiao Ka said, adding that she has also racked up about NT$70,000 in unpaid medical bills at a local veterinary hospital.
Despite the challenges, Hsiao Ka has no regrets and says she has been lobbying for a “household pet tax” to tackle the stray animal problem at its source.
Unscrupulous breeding farms have caused a surplus of companion animals, resulting in a vicious price war that has in turn negatively impacted young people’s perception of pets, Hsiao Ka said.
“Because household pets have become more affordable, young people tend to forget about the duty of care and social responsibilities attached with the animals they bring home,” she said.
“That is why I urge the government to implement a household pet tax system which requires breeding farms and pet sellers to pay a 5 percent pet tax on sales of pets,” she said.
Senior judges yesterday met to discuss the constitutionality of a law that makes adultery a criminal offense, before being ordered by Judicial Yuan President Hsu Tzong-li (許宗力) to set a date for a constitutional interpretation within the next month. The judges met to discuss Article 239 of the Criminal Code on offenses against marriage and family, after 18 judges had called for a constitutional interpretation of the issue. Taipei District Court Judge Lin Meng-huang (林孟皇) said that while he had previously tried adultery cases and never questioned the law, his feelings changed when trying a case last year involving baseball star Wang
Instead of hating the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT), help change it, KMT Chairman Johnny Chiang (江啟臣) said, as he urged young people to join efforts to reform the party. As the nation marked Youth Day on Sunday, Chiang said in a Facebook post that he wanted to remind people that “the KMT used to be very young.” Now, when people think of the KMT, they equate it with older people, he wrote. “Even if [the KMT] is a 100-year-old party, it must maintain a young mentality, and understand what young people want and what they want the KMT to do,” Chiang wrote.
TOO TIRED: Investigators found that the pilot’s lack of alertness could be attributed to a lack of sleep the previous night, when he had slept with his child It was a copilot’s inappropriate operation of the aircraft and the pilot’s insufficient alertness that led to a hard landing of a China Airlines cargo flight on Dec. 13, 2018, the Taiwan Transportation Safety Board said yesterday. Flight CI6844, a Boeing 747-409 which departed from Hong Kong International Airport, landed on the pre-threshold area of runway L5 at Taiwan Taoyuan International Airport, about 21m before the head of the runway, an investigation report said. The hard landing damaged three runway lights, but none of the personnel on board sustained any injuries, the report said. When approaching the runway, the copilot failed to maintain
DISTRUST WARRANTED? The WHO is under China’s control and has become a useless organization, while data from China cannot be trusted, a Control Yuan member said China’s demand that the novel coronavirus that emerged in Wuhan, Hubei Province, not be referred to with names like the “Wuhan pneumonia” betrays its lack of confidence in itself, Premier Su Tseng-chang (蘇貞昌) told lawmakers yesterday. Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Tsai Yi-yu (蔡易餘) asked Su, during a interpellation at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei, for his view on China’s attempts to redeem its national image in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. These included China’s efforts to “bleach” its image, including having WHO Director-General Tedros Adhanom Ghebreyesus publicly praise its handling of the COVID-19 outbreak, and thanking it for buying time