Eating cats and dogs illegal in Taiwan
TAIWAN has banned the eating of dogs and cats amid growing pressure to improve animal welfare after a spate of cruelty cases.
Lawmakers yesterday outlawed the consumption, purchase or possession of dog and cat meat, with offenders facing fines of up to NT$250,000 (US$8,195).
Authorities will also be able to name and shame those who break the law.
“This shows that Taiwan is a society with advanced animal welfare,” said Wang Yu-min, the lawmaker who proposed the new rules.
The bill also raises the penalty for killing or abusing animals to a maximum two-year jail term and a fine of NT$2 million.
Eating dog meat — which some islanders believe helps boost male potency — was common decades ago but has become less popular amid growing calls to protect animal rights.
In 2001, Taiwan amended its animal protection law to ban the slaughter of pets — which included dogs and cats — for food, although there were no penalties for eating or buying the meat.
Sales of pet meat were banned at the end of 2003.
But a string of much-publicized animal abuse cases has continued to arouse public concern and demands for tougher protection laws.
Last year, the military was forced to apologize after a video surfaced of three soldiers torturing and strangling a stray dog with an iron chain, prompting several street protests.
In 2014, a male hippo famous for regularly performing at a private zoo in central Taiwan died after breaking a leg and sustaining other injuries during transport, sparking a public outcry.
Reactions to the latest law were mixed, with some islanders deeming it unfair that only cats and dogs had been chosen to enjoy better protection.
“Only cute animals are protected while the rest deserve to die?” was one message on the Apple Daily newspaper’s website.
Dog meat consumption is common in some parts of China’s mainland, Vietnam and South Korea.
Last year, a notorious dog meat festival in the south Chinese city of Yulin drew crowds despite international outrage, with more than 10,000 dogs killed at the event in conditions activists described as brutal.
South Koreans are believed to consume somewhere between 1.5 to 2.5 million dogs every year, but the meat farming industry is in decline, with little demand among the younger generation.
In Vietnam, cat meat — known locally as “little tiger” — is regarded as a delicacy and, although it is officially banned it is widely available in specialist restaurants.