Suicide of Vet Prompts Questioning of Animal Welfare

The introduction of a new animal welfare law in Taiwan has refocused attention on the case of Chien Chih-cheng, a vet who killed herself last year after being heavily criticised over the number of animals she had put down.

 

The new law came into force on Saturday 4th February 2017, making it illegal to euthanise abandoned animals and fees of up to £100 will be the penalty set against those who abandon their pets at a shelter.

The law reflects Taiwan's ongoing problem with stray dogs, that has seen animal shelters struggling to cope with the quantity of abandoned pets coming through their doors.

Ms Chien, who was Director of the Animal Protection Education Park in Taoyuan City, killed herself last May at the age of 31. She had left a note that expressed her heartbreak at having to destroy so many stray animals and urging the government to act upon the problem.

Ms Chien had urged the public to adopt pet dogs, instead of buy as a result of the sheer number of abandoned Taiwanese dogs.

In 2015 around 10,900 dogs were put down in Taiwan, despite animal shelters hard work to educate the public about the problems arising from dog abandonment.

In a TV interview Ms Chien cried as she described the emotional impact of euthanising stray dogs, however she came under personal attacks after revealing she had put down 700 dogs in two years.

"They called her a butcher." co-worker Kao Yu-jie has said. "We are frequently scolded. Some people say we'll go to hell. They say we love to kill and are cruel.

"But people still abandon their dogs. You hear all kinds of reasons: their dog is too mean, or not mean enough, barks too much, or doesn't bark enough."

 

The Taiwanese government says it plans to divert more funding to animal shelters and provide psychological counselling for staff involved in putting animals down. 

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