What you need to know about the dog and cat meat ban
And, perhaps unsurprisingly, some of it was misinformed.
News articles on the story received a wide range of comments — some celebrative, some skeptical. Some users questioned why dogs and cats get special treatment, whereas others, presumably overseas, had harsh criticism for Taiwan, where they believed — mistakenly — eating cats and dogs was a common practice.
This is what you need to know about the ban on Monday and other animal protection measures included in the amendment:
Eating the meat was legal, but trading it was
The Animal Protection Act in Taiwan was enacted in 1998 and went through several revisions over the years as awareness of animal rights grew.
The consumption of cats and dogs has been rare in contemporary Taiwan, but some cases have cropped up occasionally, usually in rural areas and other locations where living conditions are relatively poor.
It is worth noting that before the amendment was passed Tuesday, Taiwan, like some other Asian countries such as Singapore, had already banned any form of selling or purchasing dogs, cats or any food products made with their carcasses or organs, as stipulated in Article 27 of the Animal Protection Act.
But the actual consumption of cat and dog meat wasn’t banned until Tuesday, when lawmakers included the act of “eating or possessing” cat and dog carcasses or organs in the wording.
According to Kuomintang lawmaker Wang Yu-min, the amendment was aimed to make the law more encompassing and to provide better protection for the animals.
The amendment on Tuesday also forbid pet owners to leash their pets to motor vehicles for their “walks.” Violators can be fined between NT$3,000 to NT$15,000.
Enforcement is what really matters
So the law is on the books — now comes the important part.
Chen Yu-ming (陳玉敏), director of the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (台灣動物社會研究會), hailed the law’s passage but warned that it would be meaningless without sufficient manpower to enforce it.
As of last June, the Council of Agriculture had just over 150 inspectors charged with animal protection duties countrywide. Of these, 81 were government officials with other formal jobs who worked only part-time for the council on various task forces, including animal quarantine, pet shop inspections and public shelter administrative work.
More funds and manpower must be deployed for the new Animal Protection Act to be more than words on paper, Chen said.
She also called on the government and lawmakers to pay attention to other animals, including battery-farm hens, performance animals and those used in animal testing.
“The protection of all kinds of animals must be enshrined in law,” Chen said, warning that having laws explicitly protect only dogs and cats could create room for the abuse of other animals.