Taiwan has now banned euthanising stray animals in shelters, despite fears that the move will lead to overcrowding and more abandoning their pets.
The law came into effect on Saturday, two years after it was first passed by parliament.
The issue of putting down strays was plunged into the spotlight last year, after a shelter vet committed suicide after becoming overwhelmed by the number of animals she had to put down.
Chien Chih-cheng ended her life by ingesting animal euthanasia drugs. She said in a TV interview prior to her death that she had put down over 700 dogs over the course of two years.
“I hope my departure will let all of you know stray animals are also life. I hope the government knows the importance of controlling the source of the problem,” she had said in a suicide letter.
“Please value life.”
Overcrowding at shelters
Chien’s death sparked more criticism over animal euthanasia, but several animal welfare bodies have warned that ending the practice may not be all that good for the animals, either.
Taiwan’s Council of Agriculture says the ban could lead to a decrease in the quality of shelters, due to animal overcrowding.
The new law could also lead to more people abandoning their pets on the streets, knowing that they will not be put down, according to secretary-general Huang Ching-jung of the Animal Protection Association.
It costs up to $125 to abandon a pet at a shelter under the new law.
Taiwan saw an increase in stray dogs in the 1980s, when there was an increase in pet dogs following an economic boom in the country.
Adopt, don’t buy
The nation had over 60,000 animals in public shelters in 2016, of which 12 percent were euthanised, reported AFP.
The government has moved to invest over $5 million dollars to increasing shelter capacity, though many see it only as a short-term solution.
“This is just a temporary solution. It’s people’s attitudes towards stray dogs that must be changed. Adoption needs to be encouraged,” said one Taiwanese user on Facebook.
“Taiwan needs to implement more rigorous standards, for example educate pet-owners so they know the responsibilities they have, or make it more difficult for people to buy pets. Only then will the problems end,” another Taiwanese netizen added.