Mon, Oct 24, 2016 - Page 3 News List

Shelter adoption rates a concern

BOOST NEEDED:A no-kill policy is set to take effect next year. The Taipei City Animal Protection Office said it wants to increase the number of people willing to adopt strays

By Huang Chien-hao and Jonathan Chin  /  Staff reporter, with staff writer

The slow increase in the adoption rate in Taipei’s animal shelters over the past two years has raised concerns about the city’s ability to implement a no-kill shelter policy, the Taipei City Animal Protection Office said.

The adoption rate for cats and dogs in city shelters from January to July this year was 70 percent, or 1,908 animals out of a total of 2,714, little change compared with 2014’s figures.

The highest single-month adoption rate was August, when it hit 84 percent, it said.

However, New Taipei City’s rate for the same period was 97 percent, the office said.

With the no-kill policy set to take effect next year, the slow growth of adoption rates is worrisome and has placed a considerable strain on its staff and volunteers, the office said.

Although county government and the six special municipalities have been boosting their publicity campaigns for adoption, there are a limited number of people willing to adopt strays, and they cannot adopt more than a few animals, it said.

Increasing the number of people who want to adopt strays is crucial to the success of no-kill shelters, the office said, adding that it is using several campaigns aimed at Taipei residents, including dog adoption gatherings, and encouraging hospitals and nursing homes to have therapy cats and dogs, the office said.

A major challenge is that many of the animals that end up in city shelters have been on the streets or were abused, and so some have become aggressive or are hard to domesticate, while others are old or sick, Animal Shelter and Adoption head Hua Hsin-hui (華心惠) said.

The Taipei Animal Shelter has 72 dogs and eight cats that have been at the shelter for between one and two years, and more than 50 animals who have been there for more than two years, Hua said.

One long-term resident is a cat named “Sweet Potato,” which was rescued in November 2013. It turned out to be seven years old, with feline immunodeficiency virus — an incurable and fatal infectious disease for cats — and belligerent, which made it a risk to other cats, Hua said.

“Our strategy is to find volunteers to write stories about Sweet Potato to pique public interest in adoption, and we have had success with this approach in several cases,” Hua said.

However, the Animal Protection Office denied that the low growth rate of adoption might lead to overcapacity at the shelter, because the age and health of the less-popular animals means the natural death rate ensures that the population at the shelter remains “more or less flat.”

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