Pet owners and animal activists across Taiwan are celebrating this week after their country become the first in Asia to outlaw the human consumption of dog and cat meat, a practice that has been met with revulsion from people both within Asia and from the world beyond.
On Tuesday, the Legislative Yuan passed an amendment to an animal protection law that now covers cats and dogs, once considered a source of delicacy meat in the country. Changing attitudes toward pet ownership, as emblematized by Taiwanese President Tsai Ing-wen’s many campaign photos with her beloved cats, caused many Taiwan residents to question the status quo.
The country is beginning to shift from “a society in which dog meat was regularly consumed, to one in which many people treat pet cats and dogs as valued members of their families,” the state-run media outlet Central News Agency reported.
Now, animal rights activists are hoping that the legislative sea change in Taiwan sets an example for other Asian countries known for widely consuming dog meat – China and South Korea in particular – to get with the times.
“Taiwan’s progressive ban is part of a growing trend across Asia to end the brutal dog meat trade,” said Wendy Higgins, an employee of the Humane Society International. “Taiwan also sends a strong signal to countries such as China and South Korea, where the dog meat trade remains.”
Anyone found eating cat or dog meat in Taiwan can now be punished with a fine of up to $8,200, while those who intentionally harm or torture animals can be slapped with a jail sentence of up to two years and a whopping $65,000 fine.