Animal welfare advocates yesterday panned the soon to-be-
implemented zero animal euthanasia policy following the suspected suicide of a veterinarian, saying that the policy only creates the illusion that shelter animals are cared for, while condemning them to poor living conditions and doing nothing to reduce the number of stray animals.
The suspected suicide of Chien Chih-cheng (簡稚澄), the director of an animal shelter in Taoyuan’s Sinwu District (新屋), by animal euthanasia drugs on May 5 has prompted debate about stray animal policies, with the Council of Agriculture reaffirming that the zero euthanasia policy is to take effect next year and proposing a NT$1.9 billion (US$58.18 million) budget to improve shelter facilities and improve animal protection.
“Money is not the point. The problems with stray animals and how they are sheltered is the lack of ‘source management,’” Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan director Chen Yu-min (陳玉敏) said.
“The council’s budget is aimed at improving shelter facilities and execution of animal protection policy, but allocates no resources on pet owners and breeders — the major source of stray animals — to reduce the number of stray animals. That shows the government does not have the vision to solve the problem,” Chen said.
“The zero euthanasia policy is akin to prescribing a maximum dose of morphine to create a feel-good illusion that shelter animals are well taken cared of. However, animals have to put up with overcrowding at shelters, which are always understaffed and lacking resources, and dogs can easily die from fights and diseases. There is no animal welfare for shelter animals,” he said.
A successful source management policy would see tougher regulations on animal breeding, the establishment of an accountability system for pet owners, comprehensive neutering of domestic animals, and strengthening of requirements for pet purchases and adoptions, she said.
Puppy farms are a major source of stray animals, as they produce more than 160,000 puppies every year, not including unhealthy ones that do not enter the market, she said, adding that more than 100,000 animals are admitted to shelters every year on average, and nearly 70 percent of them are euthanized because they cannot be adopted.
Pet registration has to be undertaken in such a way that owners can be held culpable if they abandon their pets, and a more stringent set of requirements should be in place that would prohibit irresponsible pet owners and substandard animal breeders, she said.
Many pet dogs are not neutered and give birth to puppies that end up in shelters or on the street, she added.
The council said it is following the suggestions of animal welfare groups and promoting pet registration and awareness among breeders and owners.
However, existing laws cannot deter owners from abandoning pets, because the Animal Protection Act (動物保護法) does not stipulate punishments for owners who abandon pets at shelters.
Abandoned pets account for about 20 percent of shelter animals, while 60 percent are captured street animals, the council said.
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