Taiwan activists, police scuffle over killings of strays

TAIPEI (AFP) - Dozens of Taiwanese animal rights activists scuffled with the police today in a protest against the widespread practice of killing stray animals, mainly dogs and cats.

Supporters of the Taiwan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals waived placards and chanted slogans to "stop the abuse and killing" as they rallied outside the agriculture ministry.

The protesters threatened to throw dog excrement on the ministry's facade, but instead ended up scattering ritual paper money for the deceased.

After a confrontation with the police, two of the activists were taken away by officers.

The activists accused the ministry of trying to block a planned revision of an animal protection law that parliament is set to review later this month, which they said could better protect the strays.

"The existing law is essentially an order to kill stray animals... We demand that it be amended as it's not the animals' fault that they have become strays, but even so they are being punished by death," the group said in a statement.

Taiwan authorities last year put down 100,000 stray animals, mostly abandoned pets, according to the ministry. The standard method of killing is injection with the drug pentobarbital.

Once rounded up, stray animals are kept in shelters for seven days, after which they are put down if no one adopts them, according to Taiwanese laws.