Less than two months before the Nov. 26 local elections, two of the hotly contested Taipei mayoral race’s three main candidates have released policy proposals aimed at wooing the city’s pet owners.
In a speech last week, Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) candidate Chiang Wan-an (蔣萬安) nodded to the importance of this emergent voter bloc, saying there are more than 218,000 registered pets in Taipei, or nearly one for every four of the city’s 1.04 million registered households.
Chiang’s pitch to this group included a pledge to work with the private sector to launch “standard form contracts” for pet health insurance policies and to create a Taipei City Government team to investigate claims of abuse against animals other than cats and dogs.
In terms of accessing public transport, he said he hoped to expand on the city’s pet-friendly bus initiative.
He would launch a trial program offering designated “pet carriages” during off-peak hours on the MRT railway serving metropolitan Taipei.
Chiang, a two-term legislator, also proposed establishing guidelines to guarantee sufficient living space and quality of care at shelters run by the Taipei Animal Protection Office.
Taipei should also diversify its options for pet adoption, such as by allowing people to foster animals and encouraging programs for campus, workplace and emotional support dogs, he said.
Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) candidate Chen Shih-chung (陳時中) said that if he is elected, he would implement several pet-related policies, including, most eye-catchingly, opening Taiwan’s first “pet amusement park” by the end of his first term.
On a more modest scale, the former health minister said his administration would improve the quality of the city’s 19 dog parks, ensuring that each has drinking water available to dogs and access to shady spaces for their owners.
Other planks of Chen’s platform, which he released on Facebook on Monday, include building a “long-term care system” for older pets and launching courses to educate people on the responsibilities of pet ownership.
Former Taipei deputy mayor Vivian Huang (黃珊珊), who is running as an independent, has yet to put forward pet-related policy proposals, although she recently hit out at Chen for bringing his Shiba Inu to campaign events.
“Pets are like family. There’s no need to use them as electoral props,” she said.
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