Taipei To Improve Pet Laws

Household Pets

The United Daily News reported that the Taipei City government is working on passing a law to protect household pets within Taipei.

According to the newspaper, the new law, drafted by the Taipei Municipal Institute for Animal Health, would immediately become effective if it is passed by the Taipei City Council.

Based on a similar bill currently in effect in Japan, Taipei’s new pet law would require ample living space and proper food and drink for all household pets. The bill would establish certain pet-friendly requirements for raising household pets; as well as to convey details regarding penalty violations.

The Director of the Taipei Municipal Institute for Animal Health, Yen Yi-Feng, was quoted in the newspaper as saying:

‘The regulations will start with rules on raising dogs and cats, and later be expanded to other pets. We will invite conservation experts, veterinarians and scholars to design rules like how much time a dog owner should spend walking the dog, and what is the proper food and drink for the pet.’

Yen Yi-Feng also stated that the Taipei Municipal Institute for Animal Health will also be creating and distributing pet care guides for pet owners in Taipei, in effort to help them become better educated pet owners.

There are currently 130,000 dogs and cats that have been registered at the Taipei Municipal Institute for Animal Health. This amounts to 82% of the overall number of dogs and cats living in Taipei City.

Whilst this new law might seem like a good idea, local Taipei residents do not think so. Most of them are afraid that the restrictions imposed by the law are far too strict and will lead to pet owners abandoning their pets.

The World Society for the Protection of Animals has declared Taipei to be the worst city in the world for stray animals. Every year tens of thousands of dogs and cats are dumped on Taipei’s streets, and since there are no humane societies or animal shelters to take these strays in, the number of strays increases each year. Most of these now stray dogs and cats started out their lives as beloved and pampered pets that were then dumped on a street corner when they became too old or else become ill.

Liability Insurance for Dogs

In an another attempt at regulating dog and cat ownership, Taipei City’s government is also drafting a proposal to require dog owners to purchase liability insurance against any possible third party damage caused by their dog. The proposed bill that would come into law in March 2010, if approved, would establish mandatory dog insurance against injuries to third party persons, animals and properties by the dogs that are registered to Taipei City residents.

Taipei City’s government wants to have the insured amount to be approximately NT$1.5 million per dog, roughly $45,000. Officials are hoping that, if all of the 130,000 dogs in the city’s registry acquire the mandatory insurance, that the annual premium should then be about NT$100-200, or somewhere in the range of $3 – $6 dollars per year.

However, the new bill also carries with it a hefty penalty if the insurance is not purchased on a registered dog within Taipei City limits. The fine will be between NT$2,000 and NT$10,000, which is approximately $62 – $310.

Yan Yi-Feng has stated that, at this time, it is unclear whether the new bill will incorporate every breed of dog registered in Taipei or if it will only focus on certain breeds of dogs.

Yan, who believes that such legislation will be a success, hopes that other municipalities in Taiwan will adopt the mandatory dog insurance guidelines. In this way, it will be impossible for Taipei City residents to register their dogs in other cities or counties in an attempt to avoid having to purchase the liability insurance on their dogs.

The legislation is necessary, Yan explains, because dogs that are being kept as pets are far more territorial than wild dogs and may therefore attack if they feel threatened, whereas wild dogs are usually fearfully of humans and will only attack if provoked.

Many dog owners in Taipei City feel that this legislation will cause more harm in the long run, with more dogs being abandoned as dog owners cannot afford the high insurance premiums. Most educated dog owners also believe that dogs are peaceful animals and therefore liability insurance is unnecessary.

The proposed law is based on similar legislation in Singapore that insists dog owners insure their dogs for S$100,000 or NT$2.32 million, or $72,000.

According to this Singaporean law, dog owners also have to place a deposit of S$5,000 ($3,500), to cover the costs of their dog running away or being fined for walking without a muzzle or leash.

Photo Credit: tab2_dawa

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