TAIPEI • The Taiwanese authorities are investigating after more than 100 birds, two cats and a dog died of heat exhaustion from being left in a container on an airport apron in baking temperatures for two hours.
The animals bound for Malaysia were found dead after they were left in a container without air holes at Taoyuan International Airport near Taipei on Thursday morning two hours prior to take-off, officials said.
Two dogs were found alive and were being treated for heat exhaustion, said the Taoyuan city government's Office of Animal Care and Control, which is in charge of the investigation.
Officials of the ground handling service could face up to one year in jail and a maximum fine of NT$1 million (S$42,600) if they were found to have deliberately caused the death of the animals, the agency said yesterday.
Local media said ground temperatures on the apron could reach more than 60 deg C.
According to the airport's standard operating procedure, animals should be transported to the apron 30 minutes before take-off in containers with air holes and should immediately board the plane.
Animal rights advocates demanded tougher laws on animal transportation to prevent similar incidents from happening.
"Apparently the company's staff didn't consider the lives of the animals and left them outdoors for hours in this hot weather," said Mr Chen Yu-min, director of the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan. "This incident should never have happened and we need stricter regulations and proper training for transportation of animals to prevent this."