TAIPEI (Taiwan News) – Lawmaker Chen Ting-fei (陳 亭 妃) and New Taipei City Councilor Lee Kun-cheng (李坤 城) held a joint press conference on Thursday, September 9th, in response to the revision animal welfare policy in Taiwan called for the abuse and death of a cat named “Cha Cha” (茶茶).
According to the CNA, a man surnamed Li (黎) who lives in Luzhou District, New Taipei City, tried to get back together with his ex-girlfriend by posting videos of him beating her cat, Cha Cha, on August 17 and poured hot water over it. Cha Cha died 11 days later on August 28th.
The New Taipei City Animal Welfare and Health Inspection Bureau (AHIQO) said it had dispatched workers to the crime scene after receiving a report.
However, Fan Shu-hsien (范舒 閑) and Hsu Lei-yi (許 鐳 譯), the rescuers of Cha Cha, accused the AHIQO of only arriving at the scene after taking the cat to a veterinary clinic. Fan said the office initially refused to visit the veterinary clinic, claiming it was outside of their jurisdiction, but left after the news was released.
Cha Cha’s rescuer Fan Shu-hsien says the AHIQO initially refused to visit the abused cat. (AHIQO photo)
When she called two days after the event to check that the office had finished collecting evidence, Fan said that she had received nothing other than the information she had sent.
Fan was also frustrated with the AHIQO’s original decision to only impose a fine of NT $ 75,000 (US $ 2,708), despite the fact that authorities later treated the case as criminal.
On August 28, New Taipei City Mayor Hou You-yi (侯友宜) responded to news of Cha Cha’s death, saying he was sad and would see to justice being done. The AHIQO investigated the case on Tuesday (September 7th) and announced that it had asked prosecutors to treat it as a serious criminal case.
At a press conference, “How do we prevent animals from being molested after we send Cha Cha away?” Lawmaker Chen Ting Fei and New Taipei City Councilor Lee Kun-cheng held in Legislative Yuan on Thursday , reviewed the case with Fan and Hsu, along with fellow rescuers Lin Yao-zong (林耀宗) and Chen Yu-min (陳玉敏), deputy CEO of Taiwan Environmental and Animal Society.
Chen keeps a list of the top animal abuse incidents that have made headlines in recent years. (Facebook, photo by Chen Ting-fei)
Legislator Chen said it is very ironic that very few animal abuse cases have been treated as criminal cases in the past, and she is concerned that increasing penalties will be an ineffective solution if authorities do not recognize the gravity of the problem .
Councilor Lee Kun-cheng said that of the 413 cases of animal abuse in the past two years, only five were criminal cases, while nine were administrative fines ranging from NT $ 15,000 to NT $ 70,000.
Currently, the maximum penalty for willful slaughter and harm under the Animal Welfare Act is two years in prison and fines under NT $ 2 million, Chen added. She urged government agencies such as the Agriculture Council (COA), the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs and the National Police Department to look into the matter in depth.
Chen also said that animal abuse cases are often linked to domestic violence cases and that the relevant authorities should establish a two-way system of prevention and intervention. She urged the relevant government agencies to ensure that there is a comprehensive and efficient network in place to report and address such issues.
Chiang Wen-chuan (江 文 全), deputy director of the COA’s Animal Industry Division, agreed with Chen, according to the CNA. He said there is still a lot of room for improvement and that the department will continue to evaluate its performance and ensure that animal abuse cases are handled by top experts in the future.
Chiang added that the Animal Welfare Act should also be revised accordingly and that the department will work hard to correct the public’s aversion to animals.