TAIPEI (AFP) - Animal rights group PETA on Monday praised Taiwanese police for raiding a club which organised gambling on pigeon races, claiming that such races kill 1.5 million birds a year on the island.
Agents from the Criminal Investigation Bureau last week searched the office of the club in the southern city of Kaohsiung and froze about NT$120 million (S$5.03 million) in assets.
Police also detained three employees on charges of violating the animal protection law and illegal gambling.
The move came in response to complaints from People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) about the pigeon race gambling industry.
"Taiwan authorities have shown the world that they take the accusation that pigeon racing is a cruel front for illegal gambling very seriously," Jason Baker, vice president of international operations for PETA Asia, said in a statement.
"Taiwan's pigeon-racing industry is the most extreme, most deadly, and most crime-ridden in the world."
PETA said earlier this year that a five-month investigation it carried out in Taiwan found that races often proved fatal for pigeons released hundreds of kilometres offshore and forced to fly home.
More than 30,000 Taiwanese pigeon breeders race about two million pigeons each year, of which an estimated 1.5 million die, according to the group.