Sat, Apr 02, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Groups cautious over animal law

NEW HOMES:The average pet adoption rate increased from 58 percent to 70 percent last year, but there is still room for improvement, an animal rights activist said

By Alison Hsiao  /  Staff Reporter

As a legal amendment that scraps the practice of euthanizing stray animals is to take effect in February next year, animal welfare groups yesterday questioned whether local governments are prepared for the change, asking them to take measures to implement the law.

Life Conservationist Association executive director Ho Tsung-hsun (何宗勳), along with animal rights campaigners and legislators across party lines, said that with less than a year to go before the amended Animal Protection Act (動物保護法) takes effect, “we have to ask the local governments whether they are prepared to end euthanasia or would they simply try to deceive the public when the time comes.”

The act was amended in February last year, scrapping a clause that stipulated that animal shelters may kill animals 12 days after publishing a notification to call on people to reclaim or adopt them.

“As of last year, 1.23 million animals have been euthanized or died due to other causes in animal shelters since 1999, when public shelters started to euthanize the animals,” Ho said.

“While the nation’s overall percentage of euthanizing sheltered animals dropped to 14 percent in 2015, Pingtung County ranked first with 55 percent [1,966 cats and dogs] of the sheltered animals being euthanized. It is followed by Nantou County’s 48 percent [2,196], Changhua County’s 46 percent [1,645], Kinmen County’s 41 percent [551], Keelung’s 37 percent [488] and Penghu’s 31 percent [257]. All other cities and counties are below 20 percent,” Ho said.

“The average adoption rate in the nation increased from 58 percent in 2014 to 70 percent last year. It seems like a big increase, but in terms of real numbers only about 2,000 additional animals were adopted last year. There is still room for improvement, as we are pushing the idea of having school dogs, community dogs and public service dogs,” he said.

More than 30 percent of the nation’s population have pets, National Taiwan Normal University’s Animal Rights Promotion Front leader Lin Wei-jen (林韋任) said. “However, not only should a more pet-friendly environment be built, but the government should prepare itself for a zero-euthanasia era.”

Besides the zero-euthanasia policy, the government should also increase its oversight of breeding facilities and support “trap-neuter-return” programs through legislation, said Liao Cheng-chieh (廖證傑), a member of National Chung Hsing University’s Life Care club.

Increasing the pet adoption rate is important for the zero-euthanasia policy, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alicia Wang (王育敏) said, adding that the proposed amendment to the Condominium Administration Act (公寓大廈管理條例) that scraps the provision that grants condo management committees the authority to prohibit pet ownership would be of great help.

She said that she has also proposed to raise the fine for running illegal breeding facilities, from the current range of between NT$50,000 and NT$250,000 (US$1,544 to US$7,721) to between NT$100,000 and NT$3 million.

Democratic Progressive Party Legislator Chen Man-li (陳曼麗) called on the central and local governments to continue their zero-euthanasia efforts.

New Power Party Legislator Hung Tzu-yung (洪慈庸) said that some of the shelters are in need of improvement and asked the authorities to advocate the idea that purchasing pets should be replaced by adoption.

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