Ban on mercy killings of strays imposed, but more to be done: COA

Taipei--A ban against putting unclaimed stray animals at public shelters to death is now in place nationwide, but Taiwan still needs to do more to resolve its stray animal problem, animal protection officials said Monday.

Chiang Wen-chuan (???), chief of the Cabinet-level Council of Agriculture's (COA's) animal protection division, said five measures will be taken to supplement the "zero mercy killing" policy, including persuading pet owners not to abandon their pets and promoting life education.

The COA will also bolster efforts to implement the new ban, which officially took effect on Monday, strengthen the existing pet registration system, and extend sterilization to more stray animals and house pets, Chiang said.

Resolving the stray problem "must start at the source," Chiang said at a press conference at which the COA announced the launch of the ban on animal shelters from killing unclaimed stray animals.

Though the ban only took effect on Monday, it dates back to amendments to the Animal Protection Act passed by the Legislative Yuan in January 2015.

One of the revisions deleted a clause in the Act that permitted the killing of animals held in animal shelters or in places designated by municipal or county authorities if they were unclaimed or unadopted for more than 12 days after a public notice.

The revisions also added a clause stipulating that a policy of "zero euthanasia" of strays would be put into force two years later to give the relevant authorities time to prepare for the change.

Only animals diagnosed by veterinarians as suffering from a contagious disease or considered to be too ill to be cured can now be put to death, according to the revisions.

According to COA statistics, Taiwan was killing more than 100,000 stray animals per year from 2001 to 2006, but the so-called mercy killings drew condemnation by animal protection groups and individuals.

Subsequent efforts to spread animal protection awareness and promote the "replace buying with adoption" concept helped raise the adoption rate of strays at public shelters in Taiwan from 13.45 percent in 2007 to 74.86 percent in 2016, said COA Vice Minister Huang Chin-cheng (???).

During the same period, the percentage of strays euthanized fell from 74.57 percent in 2007 to 12.38 percent in 2006, when the number of strays killed fell under 5,000, Huang said.

Source: Focus Taiwan News Channel