Tue, Sep 13, 2016 - Page 4 News List

Advocates urge controls on displaying animals

NARROWED DOWN:Legal provisions define show animals as those that can be displayed and ridden, effectively restricting the coverage to only horses

By Abraham Gerber  /  Staff reporter

Animal rights campaigners yesterday called for amendments to the Animal Protection Act (動物保護法) to require licensing for displaying animals.

The difficulty of proving “maltreatment” and a lack of automatic penalties have hampered the law’s enforcement, Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan President Wu Hung (朱增宏) said at a news conference co-hosted by Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Tsai Pei-hui (蔡培慧).

“Regardless of whether there is maltreatment, animal owners are always given time to make improvements before fines are levied. At the same time, it can be difficult to prove that cases of death resulted from maltreatment,” he said, citing the need for experts to determine if a “skinny” animal had been malnourished.

“You have to make a judgement and unless there is footage showing an animal being beaten or the circumstances under which it died, there are numerous possible causes,” he said.

Because of enforcement difficulties, show animals should receive extra protection, such as requiring owners to be licensed and to submit care plans, including safety deposits, he said, adding that legal provisions limit the definition of show animals — which are entitled to additional protections — to animals that are displayed and ridden, effectively restricting the definition to horses.

“Even dolphins are not included, because they are not ridden,” he said, adding that licensing requirements administered by the central government would add another layer of protection to a law whose enforcement relies mainly on local government inspectors.

The news conference was held after campaigners said they found evidence of maltreatment of show animals at the Shin Kong Chao Feng Harvest Ranch Resort (新光兆豐休閒農場) and released video footage showing numerous animals lacking fur or feathers, unattended bird carcasses and boils and sarcomas on a camel and a mule, among other alleged signs of maltreatment.

Wu demanded that the Council of Agriculture intervene and direct the Hualien County Government to take action, adding that while campaigners visited the site twice within a two-month interval and repeatedly reported their findings to the county government, no improvements had been made.

Chiang Wen-chuan (江文全), head of the council’s animal protection division, said that the city government failed to open an investigation, adding that his division yesterday morning directed local authorities to look into the allegations.

“There might have been some negligence, but it is impossible to make a judgement without looking at the photographs,” ranch manager Chen Tai-ming (陳泰明) said in a telephone interview. “However, it would not be appropriate to label the whole ranch just because of the situation of a few animals.”

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