Image Source: From the caller
In February of 2015 a concerned caller contacted the TSPCA Inspectorate to report a suspected case of improper dog care. The caller had spotted a dog chained to a scooter parked near a breakfast shop. The dog was continuously barking and whining. The dog's entire body was covered in filth and looked like a serious case of skin disease. To make matters worse, the dog’s owner had been seen giving the dog dirty water from an air conditioning unit as drinking water.
For obvious reasons, the caller also concluded that the dog must have been kept outdoors for most of his life, and that the owners may have seriously neglected its need for medical attention and care. As a result, the TSPCA was asked for assistance in inspecting the case.
After a thorough by TSPCA Inspectors, we learnt that Lucky the dog was in fact kept indoors on the first floor of his owners’ house. Lucky usually stayed inside the house to accompany his owners - an elderly couple. However, he was occasionally taken outside and chained to a scooter during pleasant weather to receive a fair amount of sunlight and fresh air.
Being seventeen years old, his rough and spotted skin is the result of calluses and dark pigment deposits. The owners mentioned that they had taken Lucky to an animal hospital in the past and a veterinarian had identified the cause of the skin condition. Nonetheless, nothing was found that could pose a risk to Lucky’s health. The TSPCA veterinarian also examined Lucky’s skin condition and further confirmed that these symptoms are the natural result of aging and that a follow-up evaluation would not be required.
In addition to Lucky’s skin condition, he has lost control of his bladder and at times urinates involuntarily. Because of this, his owners keep a large amount of newspapers and cardboard boxes in their home for cleaning up his accidents. After our visit, we were happy to see that Lucky lives in a very hygienic and comfortable environment. The house is not only odor-free, but also stocked with a lot of dog cookies and snacks. Lucky even has his own personal heater for colder winter months!
All the indicators clearly show that Lucky’ owners are aware of the dog’s welfare and have not violated any articles of the Animal Protection Act. Lucky is, in fact, very well taken care of. In the end, the reported information turned out to be a misinterpreted and misunderstood case.
The TSPCA Inspectorate has received a number of phone calls in the past, which have dealt with similar issues to Lucky’s, concerning animals’ poor skin conditions owing to inappropriate care from their rightful owners. Nonetheless, our inspectors have noticed that deposited dark pigment on the skin and fair amounts of fur loss are common occurrences, particularly among older dogs.
In addition to providing pictures of the animals’ welfare to the TSPCA Inspectorate, a set of guidelines is provided for reference to help the public further evaluate and decide whether an animal's health condition requires immediate medical attention:
1. An animal not reacting to the surrounding environment, or appearing curled up and stiff, may be an indication that it is plagued by an illness or is in severe pain.
2. Look for any signs of blood.
3. Look for rashes or irregular patterns of fur shedding.
4. Look for signs of diarrhea or vomit in the nearby area.
5. The animal does not stop scratching itself or chews/gnaws its paws.
Although veterinarians can better evaluate and determine an animal’s health condition, animals that exhibit any of the conditions stated above would need to be seen by a vet for medical treatment. Pet owners must be aware of - among other factors - the animals' energy levels, appetite, physical appearance, feces, and urine. Animals with any signs of abnormalities should be immediately taken to an animal hospital for a veterinarian to examine and evaluate their condition.
Know the laws in Taiwan:
Animal Protection Act Article 11
11.1 The owner shall provide necessary medical care to an injured or sick animal.
11.2 Animals must not be subject to medical treatment or surgery unless it is necessary for the health or management of animals. The treatment or surgery shall be conducted by a veterinarian, unless it is for emergency, scientific application, or
situations declared by the central competent authority.