Society criticizes official response to rabbits’ plight

LACK OF PENALTIES::A rabbit welfare group has called on the government for quicker application of penalties and increased regulation of the pet breeding industry

By Lee I-chia  /  Staff reporter

Wed, Nov 28, 2012 - Page 4

Showing pictures of ill rabbits kept in small rusted cages and an unsanitary environment, the Taipei Rabbit Society Association and a legislator yesterday said that a private rabbit breeding farm in Nantou County was mistreating its rabbits, but that the concerned local government agency has not fined the operator.

Assocation secretary-general Wu Ying-jin (吳盈瑾) said a complaint had been received that animals at a private rodent breeding farm in a mountainous part of Nantou County were in a poor condition.

During an on-site investigation, Wu said association members discovered rusted food bins, and cages with spider webs and sharp metal wires pointing out.

They also found an unsanitary environment at the farm, which was littered with excrement, and drinking water covered with moss and maggots.

She said that many of the rabbits at the breeding farm showed clear symptoms of illness and distress, such as suppurated head wounds, rotted ears, fallen hair, blindness and bronchial infections. Some were even found dead in their cages.

Wu said that the association had reported the situation to the local government, but had not received a response on how to save the mistreated animals.

“They [the local government agency] would not fine the operator of the farm for violation of the Animal Protection Act (動物保護法),” Wu said.

At a press conference held by the association yesterday, a senior specialist from the Council of Agriculture’s Department of Animal Industry said that the farm seemed to be in violation of regulations, but that it was the local government’s responsibility to enforce the law.

An official from Nantou County’s Animal Diseases Diagnostic Center said that they did not find ill rabbits during their first on-site investigation, but that it has now asked the farm to improve the rusted or broken cages and water bins, and will fine the operator if the situation has not improved before Dec. 17.

The association urged the government to mete out punishments as soon as behavior that violates the Animal Protection Act is uncovered and said it should also examine the qualifications of those running private breeding farms.

The association also said that animals in need of emergency rescue should be sent to animal welfare groups for care, and that the government should add cats, rabbits and other pets to the Pet Dealer Management Regulation that currently only regulates dog breeding farms.