The Taipei City Government said it would monitor pricing at animal hospitals throughout the city for one month, after disputes were reported at a hospital that had previously faced complaints.
An animal hospital in Taipei’s Daan District (大安) was fined in 2019 after it was found to have extracted excessive amounts of blood from dogs brought in for treatment, and used the blood to produce platelet-rich fibrin supplies.
The hospital changed its name and was given permission from the city’s Animal Protection Office to continue operating, but it is again at the center of controversy.
Speaking at a city council meeting yesterday, Taipei City Councilor Chung Pei-chun (鍾沛君) of the Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) said she had received a letter of complaint from a city resident whose dog died after they brought it to the hospital for treatment.
The dog’s owner paid the hospital NT$200,000 to treat their dog, but when they brought their dog home they found its condition had only worsened, and it gradually became more ill until it died 20 days later, Chung said, adding that the letter also described the hospital as filthy and unsanitary.
Chung said a quick check of the hospital on Google found that it had more than 200 one-star reviews, with many clients saying they were invoiced for unnecessary or unclear charges.
For example, one person claimed they were charged NT$6,000 for an electrocardiogram for their dog who was being treated for eating chocolate, she said.
Animal Protection Office Director Sung Nien-chieh (宋念潔) said that the Taipei Veterinary Medical Association has maximum charges listed for all veterinary services, and that most consumer complaints about vets in the city relate to charges that exceeded these amounts, or charges that were not clearly explained.
The city last year mandated that all animal hospitals in Taipei provide clients with upfront agreements, and not invoice clients for unanticipated charges when they return to collect their pet, she said, adding that all charges must be clearly explained to the client.
“However, if the animal hospitals overcharge there is no way to fine them under animal protection laws. We are looking into whether they can be fined under consumer protection laws instead,” Chung said.
For now, people with complaints about animal hospitals can bring their concerns to the office, which would facilitate communication with hospitals, she said, adding that hospitals are required to respond to such calls for communication within 15 days of being notified.
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