Opposing the Lethal Control of Stray Dogs in Taiwan

Let me introduce myself briefly. In 1998 I returned from California to Taiwan and have taught here in universities since then. Using my spare time, I started leading students in rounding up the stray dogs on campus and having them spayed and adopted. Our effort eliminated the common practice of culling dogs on campus and having them killed by local dog pounds. From 2005 on, joined by a large number of enthusiastic individuals, we extended our work to the entire region of southern Taiwan. Now some animal protection groups in other parts of the country are also following the lead to generate or expand their own spay/neuter programs.

Despite our continual demonstrations of the efficacious control of stray dogs by spay/neuter, local dog pounds are still unwilling to change. They continue spending the entire budget on lethal control. Dog pound workers in Taiwan are from the garbage division of the local government. They pick up puppies and docile dogs in a fashion similar to that of collecting garbage. The shy dogs are harder to catch and not worth their effort. To ensure the governmental budget, which depends on the number of dogs and cats picked up, the pounds opt for the ease of collecting newborns and puppies. So this culling and birth repeat in an endless cycle.

By contrast, our compassion with animals and the community as a whole compels us to take whatever resources we can get to develop and adopt techniques for birth prevention. We send people and tools to help local citizens catch the dogs for spaying/neutering and prevent births for almost every case reported to us. During the past three years, our spay/neuter program has altered more than thirteen thousand dogs and cats, including domestic pets.

My research on stray animals is mostly concentrated in Tainan city in southern Taiwan, where I teach now. Therefore, I would like to show the impact some of our work has in the city. The largest feral dog control project was conducted in an area of about 100 acres of bushy fish ponds and river beds during 2006-2007. Before the initiation of this formal project in July 2006, we had already conducted spaying/neutering in this geographically complicated area for one year. The project was created to formally document the effectiveness of alternative approaches to feral dog control.

In the beginning of the project, there were 78 feral dogs roaming in the study area, among which 25 females remained reproductive. The project research shows that the cost for population control was cut down by four fifths from $2,828 to $500 per dog by switching from lethal control to spay/neuter, assuming a life span of 10 years and other conditions. In addition, the number of newborns would be reduced from 4,040 to 48 under the regime. Otherwise, 3,984 puppies would have to be killed. The merits of spay/neuter exemplified by the feral dog control project explain largely the reduction in the population of the stray dogs from 3,600 in 2005 to less than 2,000 in 2007, during which around 2,100 dogs were altered in the city under our spay/neuter program. The stray dog population was estimated according to our rigorous surveys.

As a group of compassionate civilians, we have resorted to every source of private funding we could get including our own personable savings to provide the entire city with the spay/neuter programs, while ironically the city dog pound continues to waste limited tax dollars in a seemingly endless cycle of culling and births. Therefore, based on the scientific evidence, we request that the Tainan City Council use its power to divert the dog pound's annual budget from unnecessary and unproductive killing into the most humane and cost effective approach of spaying/neutering.

In conclusion, all concerned friends from every part of the world, please join us in opposing Taiwan's lethal control of stray animals and injustice to people who care for the dogs. Please join us in demanding that the Tainan City government use its tax dollars not to induce endless births of puppies for destruction in order to sustain its annual budget, but to effectively prevent births to control the population of stray dogs. In many developing countries, like Taiwan, the welfare enhancement of the animals and taxpayers hinges largely on the elimination of pet overpopulation. Your precious signatures will be the vehicle to that important goal! I can be reached at syhuang@mail.hku.edu.tw.

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