Do you often hear the sound of dogs wailing coming from your neighborhood, but can’t tell if the dog is howling because of being boredom or because of being hurt? What can a concerned citizen do in this situation?

Recently the Taiwan SPCA investigation department has received similar reports regarding dogs wailing/howling/barking, as well as questions related to the latter. First of all, we must ask ourselves the question, “for what reasons do dogs bark?” Barking is one of the ways for dogs to express their feelings, and to communicate with other animals. Other than wagging their tail and different kind of body language, a bark can be used as a warning, to solve a conflict, to express friendliness, fear, happiness….etc. When a dog’s owner comes home, dogs will bark a lot because of being excited. Dogs will also bark when they are anxious or afraid, sometimes due to separation anxiety. Feeling bored, being attacked, mental issues, looking for attention will all also lead to different types of barking.

Taiwan is full of apartment buildings and condos, which can make it very difficult to determine where the barking/whining is coming from as sounds echo through the mazes of buildings easily.  Some reports we’ve received have noted that the dog’s owner never brings the dog out for walks, so it can be very challenging to see the condition of the dog. Therefore the evidence provided is really only the sound coming from the dog and/or the owner. However, different barks and different whines could mean vastly different things, it could be the sounds of abuse, but could also just be the sound of an excited dog. To be able to judge the situation correctly, it’s very important to pay attention to other signs and signals that could differentiate abuse from boredom and fear from excitement.

During the investigation process, it is very difficult to understand what is really happening inside a home when all we have is audio evidence. In order to protect citizen’s rights, the law states that without sufficient evidence, even police and animal protection officers can’t force their way into a home to search for more evidence. Therefore we often end up in the very difficult position of not having sufficient evidence to be able to help. The biggest dilemma is the inspector needs to get sufficient evidence to get into the house, however they cannot get sufficient evidence without being allowed into the house. It’s a vicious circle.

Do you want to report suspected abuse to the SPCA? What’s the best way to proceed?
1.Try to get video of the animal being abused, the time and frequency of the abuse/sounds.
2.Ask neighbors or people in the area if they’ve heard or seen any animal being abused. Get as much info as possible from them.
3.Put up posters in the area, community regarding the animal protection laws.  
4.If you are in the area and hear what you think is abuse, call the police right away.
5.Report the suspected abuse to the Taiwan SPCA or other animal protection agencies around the island.

Lastly, keep in mind that the purpose of gathering evidence and taking action is to identify the reason of barking and to determine how the owner handles it. If the dog has behavior problem, it must be determined if the owner is taking correct actions to fix those problems. If the dog barks out of boredom, it is suggested that the owner attend obedience classes with his dog. If it is indeed an animal abuse situation, then legal action should be taken and the owner must take full responsibility for his actions. The case could also serve as an example for others in the community that Taiwan does have an Animal Protection Act that is enforced by the government and animal protection organizations.

Please feel free to download the following posters, post in your community or even leave in mailboxes of people you suspect don't’ treat their animals correctly.

If you are sure the case in question is abuse or neglect, please refer to the link below.

If the reason for the dog’s bark is due to boredom or behaviour issues, please refer to the link below.
- How To Stop My Dog From Barking

-Questions about animal behavior and training? Please refer to the following link: