Pet lovers gathered on Ketagalan Boulevard in Taipei yesterday in a protest against the government, saying it was spending large sums on building more animal shelters while it should rather neuter stray animals.
In the cold and damp weather of Taipei yesterday, more than a dozen protesters knelt on the ground and held up pictures of stray animals in poor condition or dead at animal shelters.
They said President Ma Ying-jeou (馬英九) had ask the Council of Agriculture to improve animal welfare two years ago and groups had suggested to use the budget on neutering, but now the council is planning to spend NT$1.7 billion on building 27 animal shelters.
It is intolerable that while the law protects animals from being mistreated by individuals, the government is slaughtering large numbers of stray animals by putting them to death at animal shelters after 12 days if not adopted, they said.
The protesters also urged the government to enforce the TNR policy by “trapping, neutering and releasing” stray animals.
In response, Chu Ching-cheng (朱慶誠), deputy director of the council’s Animal Husbandry Department, said the protesters might have misunderstood the plan, which he said is aimed at improving the environment in the animal shelters.
“Most of Taipei’s animal shelters were built between 1999 and 2002. Many of them are run down or are not well designed, allowing infectious diseases to spread easily through the facilities,” he said, adding that the plan aims to improve the shelters and build new ones in counties that still lack a public shelter, such as Yunlin County and Miaoli County.
Chu said the animal welfare groups had in the past also suggested the government “improve the quality and safety of the shelters.”
“The plan will not increase the stray animal catch, but rather improve the chances of them getting adopted, because the public will be more willing to visit the shelters if the environment is comfortable and locations more convenient,” he added.