Staff and students of National Caotun Commercial and Industrial Vocational High School in Nantou's Caotun Township (草屯) gathered on Thursday to mourn the death of a school dog after it valiantly defended its owner from a venomous snake late last month.
The school’s janitor, Pai Su-ying (白素英), was quoted by Chinese-language Apple Daily as saying she took in Hsiao Hei (小黑), a female Formosan mountain dog, and Kabi (嘎逼), a Husky, more than a decade ago, and the dogs had over the years developed a bond with the students and staff in the school.
The report said that on April 29, Pai lifted a wooden board on the school grounds out of curiosity and was shocked to see a cobra at least 1m long dart out from under it.
Hsiao Hei and Kabi rushed to defend her and wounded the snake, but when Hsiao Hei rushed up to finish the snake, it bit her on her hind legs, the Apple Daily said.
Pai and the school’s retired mechanic, Lin Chin-tan (林金潭), went around Caotun looking for an antidote, but both veterinary clinics in the town said they did not have one, the report said.
Pai then turned to the Tseng Han-chi Hospital for aid, but she was told that the “antivenin is for human use only and cannot be sold.”
Hsiao Hei died within half an hour of the attack.
Tseng Han-chi Hospital director Tseng Han-chi (曾漢棋) was quoted by Apple Daily as saying that antivenin is in limited supply, adding that since the antivenin is not suitable for animals, it had refused to administer it.
However, the report also quoted National Chung Hsing University veterinarian Tung Kwong-chung (董光中) as saying that it was unreasonable not to use antivenin on animals since most medicine approved for use in humans is first tested on animals.
Centers for Disease Control Deputy Director-General Chuang Jen-hsiang (莊人祥) said that of the four kinds of antivenins in the country, the kind used for toxins causing hemorrhages is in the highest demand and is not allowed to be used on animals.
However, the other three antivenins, which target the venom of the Chinese moccasin and seven pacer and the neurotoxins of the Taiwanese krait, had been made available to veterinarians since March.
Taiwan Veterinary Clinician Association secretary-general Chen Chih-feng (陳志峰) was quoted by the Apple Daily as saying that he had not been notified of the availability of antivenins, to which Juang replied that his agency would try to step up efforts to make veterinarians aware of such information.