Ahead of World Animal Day on Friday, several animal rights groups yesterday launched a petition to have animal protection written into the Constitution, among other legal changes.
They are calling for animal rights to be guaranteed by the Constitution; the institutionalization of compensation for injured animals; establishing a standing animal protection task force; legalization of humane rescue efforts; transparency of information regarding the treatment of animals in scientific research; the legalization of animal-friendly husbandry and the legalization of the promotion of vegetarian diets.
Taiwan Animal Protection Administrative Oversight Alliance secretary-general Ho Tsung-hsun (何宗勳) told a news conference in Taipei that 12 out of 113 legislators have signed the petition so far.
About 11 legislators took part in the news conference to lend support to the signature drive, including Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) legislators Rosalia Wu (吳思瑤) and Chuang Jui-hsiung (莊瑞雄), who brought their pets.
Chuang, who represents Pingtung County’s third electoral district, said he is very much aware of the need for animal protection, citing issues in his constituency as an example.
The government policy to restore Formosan Sika deer in Pingtung County is an effort to restore endemic species, but to the farmers it is a nightmare, Chuang said.
The issue of animal protection and the right to property is an ongoing conflict in the county, yet they are fundamentally different things, he said.
It would be a long time before legislation brings about a safe environment for the animals, but if everyone worked together, then it could be possible that such action would occur faster, he said.
Wu said that legislators would have to reorganize the groups’ demands, as some would be easier to achieve, but all of the demands were a part of becoming an “advanced nation.”
Having pets helps change people, Wu said, jokingly adding that Chuang used to have an “air of violence,” but was calmer and more appreciable now that he has a dog.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Jason Hsu (許毓仁) said there were many issues regarding animal protection, such as the treatment of strays, but he believed that everyone could do more.
Hsu said he had Labrador for 13 years, which had been a gift from an officer as he finished his mandatory military service, but after the dog died, he was afraid of getting another.
“It really was like a member of the family passing,” Hsu said.
KMT Legislator Apollo Chen (陳學聖) showed off the “Legislative Yuan Award for Animal Protection” he won in June, saying that it was an award that few have received, and pledging to continue to press for animal protection.
The groups presented the legislators who have signed the petition with garlic bulbs and radishes in a play on words.
Garlic in Mandarin is pronounced “suan” (蒜), while in Hoklo (also known as Taiwanese), the phrase “dong suan” (凍蒜) means “winning election.” Radishes, in Hoklo, are “tsai tao” (菜頭) and were given as auspicious gifts ahead of January’s legislative elections.
Additional reporting by Diane Baker
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