I decided to join the ranks of the Taiwan SPCA (TSPCA) investigation department as an intern, because I love animals and was never sure what to do if I saw them being abused. I wanted to gain a better understanding of how professionals deal with the abuse and neglect of vulnerable animals.
I originally believed that TSPCA inspectors would follow their supervisor from the moment they began work until the end of the work day, in order to help animals who had suffered from abuse and to communicate with their owners. However, I soon learned that most cases were not as I had imagined they would be. Most cases did not involve violent abuse, but rather the owner simply not understanding how to adequately feed and care for their pet - for example, leaving the animal in a cage for long periods of time, leaving an animal chained up, or not providing sufficient food, water, or housing.
Although the three cases mentioned above are not examples of extreme violent abuse, they are still forms of mental and emotional abuse. Unfortunately, there is no law in Taiwan to protect animals from this form of neglect. Offenders only receive a warning from the government. Although TSPCA knows that there is currently no penalty for this form of abuse, we continue to communicate with owners to improve animals' quality of life. I feel this is one of the most difficult areas of this job, because there are no penalties for neglect. Animal protection groups, like ourselves, can only do our best to persuade owners to improve their animal’s living condition and teach them proper care for their pets while we work to amend the laws.
After becoming an intern at TSPCA, I not only investigated abuse cases with my supervisor but also learned how to communicate with owners and government agencies. Another thing I learned is that we can all do our best to help by making an effort. Sometimes the topic of animal welfare will be brought up among colleagues at work, where new views can be provided. Since the organization depends on public donations to continue its important work in Taiwan, they are often in need of volunteers to help at fund raising events and educational events. Such as annual pet expos and second-hand markets or going to after-school programs to teach children about animal welfare. This allowed me to not only work on investigations while at TSPCA, but also to participate in events which deepened my understanding of the organization’s function and how to enhance animal standards in Taiwan.
The following are my aspirations for Taiwan’s future:
- Amendment Taiwan’s Animal Protection Act:
For example, in many cases investigated, pet dogs are often seen as guard dogs and do not receive adequate care. Moreover, in the current Animal Protection Act Article 5, there are no penalties for not providing proper care. Amendment efforts by the organization and lawmakers have already passed the first reading.
2. Community Outreach:
It is also very important that Taiwanese citizens learn about proper care of animals and garner a stronger concept of animal protection. Emphasis has always been placed on academic education in Taiwan instead of life education. If the concept of animal protection can be popularized, it will lead to everyone taking the initiative to care for animals, love every creature on the planet, and make the whole world a better place. In July, the TSPCA offered two animal welfare classes to elementary school English cram school students. The classes were designed to establish the concept of animal care for children at an early age. The children’s enthusiasm gave me hope that the concept of animal protection is starting to blossom in Taiwan.
Although I am from Taizhong, I was never very familiar with the area’s animal protection groups or what they could offer me as far as learning how to care for and protect animals. So, I made the move north to intern at the TSPCA. After joining, I found out that Taiwan has so many animal protection organizations, but that are all working separately. I would very much like to have one common consensus for animal protection groups so that they could all cooperate with each other, working towards a common goal to enhance Taiwan’s animal welfare efforts!