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Farewell to Killings: Taiwan Implements “No-kill” Policy on Shelter Animals
The Council of Agriculture (COA) announced that all public animal shelters are to cease administering killing from Feb. 6, which formally ended the practice depicted in the documentary film Twelve Nights. After India, Taiwan would become the second country in Asia to implement the “no-kill” policy, thus establishing an important milestone in animal protection in Taiwan. The COA and county/city governments strive to improve and ensure the quality of animal shelter management. Supported by the private sectors, the COA engaged in next-stage core operations, namely source management and stray dog control so as to continue on the pursuit of animal welfare.
The second No-kill country in Asia
The COA stated that in the past if the animals in the shelter were not adopted, they would be humanely put down as it is done in most countries. The highest record of animals euthanized in one year was as high as 100,000. Along with the rise of animal protection awareness and the joint efforts of government and private sectors, the adoption rate in public animal shelters quadrupled from 13.45% to 74.86% in the past decade (2007-2016), while the euthanasia dropped nearly three times from 74.57% to 12.38%. In particular, the Animal Protection Act was amended in February, 2015 whereas the article 12 which originally authorized euthanasia on animals after a 12-day period in the shelter was revised. The amended article states that only animals determined by certified veterinarians as suffering from infectious disease, terminal illness, or posing a serious threat to environmental hygiene, or other urgent situations can be euthanized. Subsequently a two-year sunset clause was also drafted to terminate humane killing on Feb. 6, 2017, making Taiwan one of the few countries that legislated and enforced No-kill. Moreover, Taiwan is also the first country in Asia to implement such policy besides India which was motivated by religious and cultural reasons. Looking back on the hard work and effort dedicated to animal protection, it is nothing short of an astonishing feat that such important milestone was reached in less than 20 years after the Animal Protection Act came into effect. It symbolizes Taiwanese people's effort and enthusiasm in embracing the universal value of animal protection.
Necessary assistance was given to lessen the impact in transition period as pressure for catching stray dogs is still heavy
The COA pointed out that in the past two years NT$510 million were dedicated to start various supporting measures based on the principles of “source reduction”, “shelter improvement”, and “multiple adoptions” through county/city governments. Evident improvements could be noted on the management of animal shelters nationwide, even though different concepts in dog raising still exist between urban and rural areas. Generally speaking, pressure for catching stray dogs is still greater than adoption number in the shelter. After the No-kill policy came into force, public animal shelters in different counties/cities would need to adjust and prioritize their dog-catching control notification mechanism, shelter admission criteria and management, as well as to promote diversified stray dog population control strategies, alternative adoption (e.g. labor dogs), and other practices so that the management quality and quantity of animal shelters would be ensured. However, under the premise of maintaining shelter quality, individual animal shelters would not rule out the possibility of temporally rejecting admissions to prevent overcrowding and lower shelter quality. The COA reiterated that the Council would enhance the supervision and assist county/city governments to publish open information for achieving management transparency. In the mean time, third party institutions are encouraged to increase participation and visits for the purpose of decreasing the impact of No-kill in the transition period.
Enhance source management and stray dog population control
The COA emphasized that animal shelter is the last resort in the handling of stray dog issue. The solution to the problem lies within the source management. How to carry out source management and control stray dog population would be the main focus of follow-up animal protection policies. In an inter-ministerial effort, the Council collaborated with local governments to promote pet owner responsibility, implement pet registration with microchip implantation, and source management of dog population control. This year the COA would promote sterilization in rural areas, organize reward contest of sterilization among villages, combine pet and household registry, simplify pet registration, establish distribution control mechanism for commercial dog trade, utilize citizen science and information technology to evaluate stray dog population, provide assistance in enhancing primary animal protection manpower and life education of animal protection, among other tasks. Those agricultural counties underprivileged in resources would enjoy priority assistance. Additionally, civilian power also proves to be crucial and indispensable in minimizing public safety risk caused by stray dogs. The Council invites every group and sector of our society to join the cause and build a safer living environment for every citizen of this country.