HSUS doesn’t get it in Taiwan

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, March 1998:

TAIPAI, TAIWAN––“Approximately two
million dogs in Taiwan are owned––and 1.3 to 1.5 million
are strays,” Humane Society of the U.S/Humane
Society International vice president for companion animals
Martha Armstrong lamented in the winter 1998
edition of HSUS News. “There are few bona fide animal
shelters in Taiwan, and there is no clear-cut
authority or responsibility for controlling strays.
Citizens are very reluctant to cooperate with government
in the control of stray and unwanted animals.”
The Taiwanese Environmental Protection
Administration has the chief jurisdiction over stray
dogs. But agency staff, Armstrong found, don’t like to
kill animals. “Chinese has no term for euthanasia,” she
claimed, seemingly unaware that there are several
“Chinese” languages. The official language of Taiwan
is Mandarin.

“Euthanasia is a concept that is inconceivable
to most Taiwanese,” Armstrong added. “Some EPA
workers believe in reincarnation, or [believe] that suffering
in life will guarantee a wonderful place in eternity,
so they are reluctant to interfere in an animal’s life.”
Similar attitudes prevail in India––and Taiwan,
with just over 20 million human residents, is
about the size of Delhi plus Bombay. But Taiwanese
per capita income is 10 times that of India. The Taiwanese
literacy rate is 92%, compared to 52% in India.
Despite economic and educational disadvantages,
however, Delhi and Bombay each achieved nokill
dog control three to four years ago, leading the
Indian government––as reported in the January/February
1998 edition of ANIMAL PEOPLE––to adopt nokill
dog control by 2005 as an official national goal.
The key to the Indian success, as in San
Francisco and the handful of other U.S. cities which
have accomplished no-kill animal control, is high-volume
low-cost and/or free neutering. The Animal Birth
Control program pioneered by the Blue Cross of India
30 years ago, now part of a national dog policy, centers
on neuter/release of non-aggressive street dogs.
But though Buddhism, of Indian origin, is
the prevailing religion in Taiwan, Armstrong didn’t
look toward India for help.
Taught killing, not fixing
Instead, Armstrong wrote, “We thought that
if the Taiwanese could see a well-run humane animal
shelter staffed by a largely Asian-American staff, serving
a community with a large Asian-American population
who share many of the Taiwanese cultural beliefs
and customs, perhaps they would be persuaded to work
toward solving Taiwan’s stray dog problem.” Thus
HSUS/HSI enlisted Hawaiian Humane Society president
Pamela Burns and HHS veterinarian Rebecca
Rhodes––both Caucasians.
Never in Armstrong’s four-page report on the
Taiwanese stray dog crisis did she even once mention
neutering, let alone discuss either starting or helping to
fund high-volume, low-cost or free neutering. Instead,
right after claiming to be “a few miles into our journey
toward a more humane life for dogs in Taiwan,” as
result of three years of discussion meetings and a twoday
HSUS-sponsored series of workshops on how to
capture and kill dogs more gently and efficiently,
Armstrong in a footnote bemoaned the lack of euthanasia-strength
sodium pentobarbital in Taiwan.
According to Lih-Seng Yeh, DVM, and
Marian Yeh, of the Taiwan-based animal protection
publication Animal Garden Quarterly, the actual number
of owned dogs in Taiwan is 2.7 million, of whom
58% were gifts from family or friends, 24% were purchased
from breeders or pet shops, 14% were adopted
as strays, and 1% were adopted from animal shelters.
The national rate of strays being returned to their owners
is 5%; 94% of impounded strays are killed.
The ownership and acquisition numbers,
when adoptions of strays are combined with adoptions
from shelters, are within a few percentage points of
those found by R. Nassar, J.E. Mosier, and L.W.
Williams in their 1983 Study of the feline and canine
populations in the Greater Las Vegas area,” which is
considered the benchmark survey of American pet ownership
demographics before the advent of high-volume,
low-cost or free neutering. The shelter killing ratio
likewise mirrors the ratios commonly reported by animal
control agencies of that era.

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