Dozens of animal protection activists yesterday urged the legislature to pass proposed revisions to the Animal Protection Act (動物保護法) to safeguard animal welfare and provide tougher penalties for abusing animals.
Members of the Taiwan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) and the Taiwan People’s Association for Cats and Dogs made their appeal outside the legislature in Taipei while lawmakers were reviewing several proposed amendments to the act.
In an effort to drive home their demands, the groups performed a skit in which some people squeezed into an animal cage, while others dressed as “death gods” performed “euthanasia” on stray puppies housed at shelters.
The association’s Brian Huang (黃泰山) called for regulations that would limit authorities to only catching stray animals that pose a threat to human beings as a way of preventing the needless killing of large numbers of stray animals.
Huang also called for controls on the breeding of cats and dogs to help reduce the number of strays.
Taiwan SPCA executive director Connie Chiang called for amendments to “eradicate the improper rearing” of animals.
“The definition of improper rearing should be stipulated in the act,” she said, adding that animals should be provided with clean water and be kept in cages suitable for their size.
The groups also said they hoped the revisions would include “neglect” and “emotional distress” as forms of animal abuse and prohibit owners from locking up or tying up pets for extended periods of time.
Several legislators who have sponsored bills that included the groups’ appeals, including Democratic Progressive Party legislators Cheng Li-chiun (鄭麗君) and Tien Chiu-chin (田秋堇), joined the gathering to support the call for greater protection for animals.
One proposed amendment stipulates that people guilty of serious animal abuse or the slaughter of animals be subject to jail sentences of one to two years, compared with a sentence of less than one year at present.
The legislation “is desperately needed” if Taiwan wants to catch up to developed countries such as Canada and the US in safeguarding animal welfare, said Vallaurie Crawford, a visiting professor at Taipei Medical University’s College of Humanities and Social Sciences, who was among the activists.
She said such legislation would not only improve the lives of animals, but also help Taiwan set an example in Asia.
Yesterday’s meeting of the legislature’s Economics Committee reviewed the amendments, but no concrete progress was made.