TAIPEI • Taiwan has banned the eating of dogs and cats, lawmakers said yesterday, as pressure grows to improve animal welfare after a spate of cruelty cases that stirred public outrage.
Parliament on Tuesday passed legislation to outlaw the sale, purchase, consumption or possession of the carcasses of dogs or cats or any food products made with their carcasses or organs. Offenders face being fined a sum between NT$50,000 and NT$250,000 (from S$2,300 to S$11,500).
They will also be banned from registering any pets and from applying to adopt a pet.
Previously, Taiwan's Animal Protection Act had only penalised the act of selling or purchasing dog and cat meat.
Lawmakers also stiffened the penalty for killing or abusing animals, raising the maximum punishment to two years behind bars and a NT$200,000 to NT$2 million fine, from one year's imprisonment with a fine between NT$100,000 and NT$1 million. The offender's name and photograph will be made public. Repeat offenders will face a jail term of one to five years in addition to a fine of NT$500,000 to NT$5 million.
"This shows that Taiwan is a society with advanced animal welfare," said lawmaker Wang Yu-min, who proposed the amendment.
Ms Wang added that while some localities already had measures banning the eating of dog and cat meat, national legislation was needed.
Dog consumption was common in Taiwan decades ago and although it is much rarer now, there have been sporadic reports of shops caught selling dog meat.
Last year, a lamb hotpot restaurant in Kaohsiung was found to be serving dog meat to cut costs. It subsequently became the first city in Taiwan to ban the eating of dogs and cats.
The latest legislation comes in the wake of recent much-publicised animal abuse cases. Last year, the Defence Minister made a public apology after a video showed soldiers hanging a stray puppy by its neck over a seawall and watching it struggle until it died. The footage triggered public outcry, with many urging an immediate concrete response from lawmakers.
Another law passed makes it illegal for pet owners to "walk" their dogs by leashing them to vehicles. Offenders can be fined between NT$3,000 and NT$15,000. There have been reports of dogs being hurt when forced to run beside a scooter or car driven by their owners, who thought they were taking their pets out for a walk.
AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE, CHINA POST/ASIA NEWS NETWORK