The tiny country of Taiwan has just made a big statement: it is now illegal to consume or produce dog and cat meat.
“This is a great step taken by Taiwan’s legislature,” Adam Parascandola, director of animal protection and crisis response for Humane Society International. “It completes Taiwan’s legislative actions against an eating habit that has long been a focal point of social conflict there.”
This amendment is part of the island’s animal laws to protect animals, including pets. Prior to its passing, the slaughter and sale of dog and cat meat was outlawed, but now anyone caught consuming or trading dog and cat meat could be fined anywhere between approximately $1,650 to $8,245, according to the island’s official Central News Agency.
Also included in the amendment is a ban on “walking” a pet on a leash, as it is being pulled by a moving vehicle, such as a car or motorcycle.
The new prison terms for those who are guilty of animal cruelty, including “deliberate harm to animals that results in mangled limbs, organ failure or death” is now two years and could may up to a $65,000 fine.
The shift in the animal protection laws comes after atrocious cruelty acts came to light, including a video last year of military personnel beating a dog, strangling it and then throwing the body into the ocean.
Parascandola is hoping the amendment will push other countries in Asia to reconsider allowing consumption and slaughtering of dogs and cats for their meat.
“Taiwan’s legislation sends a clear message to other Asian nations that culture is no obstacle to ending animal cruelty and no obstacle to ending a questionable and increasingly unpopular eating habit,” he says.
The most notable is China’s Yulin dog meat festival, an event occurring 10 days during the hot summer where thousands of dogs and cats are killed because of the belief their meat will cool a person’s blood. People abuse, strangle and brutally kill the dogs, as it is thought the more pain the animal incurs, the better the meat will be.
South Korea’s policy on allowing people to eat and slaughter dogs and cats has also been in the spotlight ahead of the 2018 Winter Olympics.
“Dogs are increasingly viewed as companions and family members, not a plate of food on the dinner table,” Parascandola says. “Taiwan’s legislative action is both indicative of and a catalyst to the positive change in East Asia.”