Pet owners slam ‘unfair treatment’ by Kuo Kuang

By Su Meng-chuan, Chen Chien-chih and Stacy Hsu  /  Staff reporters, with staff writer

Wed, Nov 14, 2012 - Page 5

FB Taiwan Rescue Animals has launched a boycott of Kuo Kuang Motor Transport (KKMT) after staging a protest in Taichung on Sunday against what it called the company’s unfair treatment of animals for demanding pet owners purchase a half-price ticket for their pets.

The animal welfare group said that while the firm requires pet owners to buy a ticket for accompanying animals, they can only be placed under, not on, passenger seats.

The campaign, which called on animal lovers to protest against the policy at the KKMT’s Greater Taichung station at noon on Sunday, received fervent support.

Wang Ya-hui (王雅惠), who owns a golden retriever, said the policy was utterly unreasonable because it meant her dog could never travel by bus.

“I have no other option but to drive whenever I travel with my pet,” she said.

Comparing the Taiwan Railway Administration (TRA) with KKMT, Wei Yi-chen (魏意真), a cat owner, said that while KKMT requires animal owners to cage and purchase a ticket for their pets, the TRA allows animals to travel on trains for free.

“The KKMT’s polices are really unacceptable,” Wei said, adding that she would spare no effort to fight for animals’ transportation rights.

However, a number of travelers waiting for buses on Sunday shrugged off the boycott, with some advising the company to prohibit animals from being allowed on public transportation to prevent the transmission of animal-borne diseases during long trips in confined spaces.

Saying the campaign was aimed at ascertaining whether KKMT treats animals as objects or living beings, FB Taiwan Rescue Animals director Tang Chi-hua (唐奇華) said pet owners would be willing to pay for their pets’ bus tickets if animals are provided with a seat rather than being forced to sit under one.

“Otherwise, the company should regard animals as objects and refrain from charging pet owners any fee for transportation,” Tang said.

In response, KKMT Taichung stationmaster Liu Chao-huang (劉招煌) said the company’s pricing policies are in line with regulations stipulated by the Directorate General of Highways (DGH) and address concerns about the comfort of passengers who may be allergic to animals.

DGH Taichung Motor Vehicles Office director Chen Tsung-chien (陳聰乾) said Article 59 of the Transportation Management Regulations (汽車運輸業管理規則) stipulates that passengers carrying pets should purchase a half-priced ticket and avoid placing the animals on a seat, in overhead luggage racks or in the aisle.

“The regulations also require animals on public transportation to be kept in a container with a volume not exceeding 270 cubic centimeters,” Chen said, adding that while the laws could be revised, passengers should abide by the current regulations.

The TRA and Taiwan High Speed Rail said there is no charge for animals on their services as long as they are properly caged and placed under passenger seats.

Ho Hsin Bus Traffic Co also imposes no charges for animals, but stipulates that they need to be positioned next to driver’s seat.

The majority of bus operators, on the other hand, said that caged animals should travel in accordance with the relevant regulations and should not be provided with a seat regardless of how much money their owners are willing to pay.