The Asian country also added stricter punishments to current animal cruelty laws

By Kelli Bender
April 12, 2017 02:11 PM
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JOHANNES EISELE/AFP/Getty

Taiwan is taking big steps towards raising global awareness about animal rights.

According to the Associated Press, the country’s legislature recently banned the sale and consumption of dog and cat meat, and it increased the penalties for all animal cruelty.

Under this updated version of Taiwan’s animal protection law, those found guilty of deliberately harming animals can receive a maximum penalty of two years in prison and a fine equal to $65,000. Those caught selling or consuming dog or cat meat will face fines up to $8,000. Additionally, their photos and names will be publicized, along with their crime, as further punishment. Another amendment added a fine of up to $500 for those found pulling their animals along on a leash from a car or motorcycle.

This legislature coincides with the country’s changing attitude towards pets. While Taiwan has never had a widespread issue with dog and cat meat consumption, the country did see a large number of animal abandonments several decades ago. Now, as the birth rate declines, Taiwan citizens are focusing their love, energy and money on their pets. Taiwanese pets now have some of the best legal protections in all of Asia.

Animal rights organizations, like Humane Society International, hope that other Asian countries follow Taiwan’s example and introduce legislature that will end the dog meat trade for good.

“Taiwan’s legislature has taken a monumental step in ending the dog meat trade. This legislation is going to send a message to the Chinese mainland, Nagaland state in India, Vietnam, Indonesia and other Asian countries where dog meat consumption is still legal that ending the brutal dog meat trade is the positive trend across Asia and a step in the public’s long-term interest. Most people in Asian countries do not eat dog and cat, and most find the cruel and often crime-fueled trade appalling. The animal protection movement is growing rapidly across Asia and the calls for an end to dog meat cruelty are getting louder and louder,” Adam Parascandola, director of animal protection and crisis response for HSI, said in a statement.

Currently the dog meat trade kills close to 30 million dogs every year, often keeping the animals in cruel and filthy conditions before they are slaughtered. HSI is working to transform this trade by rescuing canines from dog meat farms and transitioning former dog meat farmers into humane trades, like chili or blueberry farming.

Additionally, CBS News reports that President Tsai Ing-wen of Taiwan was portrayed as an animal lover during her election campaign, which highlighted her two cats. In 2016, she adopted three retired guide dogs.