In recent years, with the advance of social media, the deplorable dog and cat meat trades within China, South Korea, Vietnam and Indonesia have become a mainstream issue among the international community. No one really associated Taiwan with this trade however and certainly no one on social media was talking about it.
World Protection for Dogs and Cats in the Meat Trade started our own petition demanding Taiwan impose higher penalties to really make a difference and we are so thankful collective campaigning has worked. Yesterday, the country of Taiwan passed amendments to the Animal Protection Act, which will criminalise the slaughter, sale and
consumption of dogs and cats nationally. People found guilty of the crime will face hefty fines and jail time. This is a wonderful step in the right direction and motivates us all to keep campaigning.
Here is the story of the Taiwan campaign in more detail.
Concerned Citizens From Taiwan Contacted The Charity
Last year our charity was contacted by a retired army officer from Taiwan who ran a Facebook group where concerned Taiwanese citizens posted photographic evidence of dogs and cats being tortured for their meat. We were surprised to hear this. He explained that the people torturing and eating the dogs were all Vietnamese migrant workers in Taiwan. He said that on average, 180,000 Vietnamese people, mainly young men, were coming to Taiwan each year to work as low skilled labourers and they were the ones killing and eating the stray cats and dogs – often in horrific torturous ways as the pictures showed.
Over the weeks our new friend continued to send us profile after profile, of young Vietnamese men torturing and eating stray dogs and cats, whilst working in Taiwan. With the consumption of dogs and cats being illegal in Taiwan, it was clear the Vietnamese workers did not pay attention to the law, as they posted their conquests on their Facebook pages.
NoToDogMeat Took Action
Over the weeks our new friend continued to send us dozens of Facebook pages with pictures of cruelty, posted by Vietnamese men torturing and eating stray dogs and cats whilst working in Taiwan. With the consumption of dogs and cats being illegal in Taiwan, it was clear the Vietnamese workers were ignoring the law, as they brazenly posted their conquests so publicly on their Facebook pages. The maximum fine of only £200 clearly was not working as a deterrent. In response we decided to help our Taiwanese friends in their campaign by starting two of petitions that people anywhere in the world could sign. Our friend had previously told us that we should try and show the Taiwanese government how strong was the feeling about the weak laws among the international community and that quite possibly, they would feel ashamed.
First of all, our charity’s CEO Julia started this petition to the Taiwanese Council of Agriculture:
In conjunction, her good friend who lobbies on behalf of the organisation Occupy UN 4 Animals, created this petition, showing the shocking pictures of torture:
We delivered Our Petitions to Taiwanese Government
Once we had gained a couple of thousand signatures on the petitions, we sent them off, along with photos taken from dozens of profiles of Vietnamese workers, who were proudly torturing Taiwanese stray cats and dogs.
We also attached details of the UN Sustainable Development Goals, which speak of civil society, where governments are being called on to uphold the rule of law. We also printed out UN extracts and paragraphs that described the caring animal welfare ethos of the new UN Agenda. We explained the problem of the Vietnamese workers in Taiwan, as well as asking if the Taiwanese government might help us raise the issue of dog and cat meat torture to other Asian countries.
We were delighted a few weeks later when we received responses, both from the Office of the Taiwanese President and from the Taiwanese Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan.
The replies can be seen here:
We were surprised to hear that on arrival at the Taiwanese Airport, the Vietnamese workers were actually given hand books and shown videos on how to treat animals properly, as well as being given warnings not to catch or eat dogs and cats. They mentioned that employers of immigrant labourers were also instructed to inform their workers not to eat dogs and cats.
Further Contact from Taiwanese Activists Working With NoToDogMeat
When he saw the replies our Taiwanese friend whose group collects the pictures of the Vietnamese labourers said “but the Vietnamese are still doing it and they are still posting it on Facebook”. Sadly he was right. There were still more and more profiles showing the torture of dogs and cats. We told him we would gain more signatures on the petitions, write a stronger letter informing them that their fine of £200 was no deterrent, and we would send more photos of the profiles of Vietnamese labourers torturing dogs, which we sent off two months later.
In light of all this we are of course delighted to discover the latest reforms of the Taiwanese law earlier this week. Firstly, the fine for eating dog and cat meat has risen to £6,500. Secondly, anyone caught torturing dogs and cats can now go to prison for two years and face a fine of £50,000. We think these changes send a message that the Taiwanese authorities mean business. We are hopeful that this will be enough to stop the Vietnamese Facebook posters at least from torturing dogs whilst in Taiwan.
Our plan now is to send reports to the Vietnamese government, showing them the same evidence and details of the new penalties set by the Taiwanese authorities. We will make it clear to them that these changes have been brought about as a direct result of Vietnamese labourers behaving so badly abroad. We hope this might shame and galvanise the Vietnamese authorities into action and to introduce new laws where currently there are none.
We will also send details to the UN Development Program Vietnam, and make the Vietnamese government aware of this and make sure they know about the animal welfare ethos of the new UN Agenda.
Will Dog Meat Be Banned in The Rest of Asia?
As for China and South Korea, the fact is that Taiwan has now set a clear precedent. We can start sending details of the heavy penalties set by Taiwan, to these offending nations, to show exactly what kind of an example they should follow. Already news of Taiwan’s strict new penalties are appearing in Chinese media and, no doubt, in the South Korea too.
In the meantime we would like to say a huge thank you to our dear friend, lobbying organisation Occupy UN 4 Animals for their heartfelt, professional and result-bearing letters to the Taiwanese President and others, and to our lovely Taiwanese friend, the retired soldier, for his continuing activism and his bravery.
What Can You Do To Help?
NoToDogMeat runs a partner shelter in China with over 400 dogs and 40 cats and we need your help. We need $20,000 to complete the building of our medical shelter which will run spay and neuter /microchipping and critical care for dogs and cats that are still in danger from the meat trade. Our wonderful partner Mr Zhao who is a vegan has a plan also to run education programmes to local schools. Please help us continue this work.