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By Lo Chi and Kayleigh Madjar / staff reporter with staff writer
A college student is under investigation for animal abuse after allegedly dying her cat pink, which caused a heated reaction online when social media users accused the school of ignoring the problem.
The Tungnan University student reportedly colored the cat herself and posted photos and video of it on social media.
A member of the public contacted the New Taipei City Animal Welfare and Health Inspection Bureau on May 1 to report the incident, the Taiwan Animal Protection Monitor Network said.
Photo courtesy of the Taiwan Animal Protection Monitor Network
Four days after the report was drawn up, the same person contacted the monitoring group to take action.
After contacting the office for clarification, the network found that it had tried to call the student dozens of times, but she never answered.
The office also contacted the university, which refused to divulge student information without a formal request, the network added.
It sent a request to the school and the student’s telecom operator for her details, but it was still waiting for a response as of Sunday last week, it said.
The network also called the university’s academic affairs office Thursday and Friday, which said it would call back once it settled the matter with the student and the student affairs office.
It is evident that no progress has been made since last week, which shows that those involved do not realize the risk that fur dyeing poses to a cat’s health, the network said.
The university was made aware of the matter earlier this month but continued to do nothing even after Facebook users started flooding their page, it said.
It should have contacted the student immediately and helped her speak to authorities or notify the animal welfare office immediately if she refused to cooperate and not delayed further to the detriment of the cat’s wellbeing, it added.
The animal welfare office announced that the student violated Article 5 of the Animal Welfare Act (動物 保護 法), according to which the owners must protect the animals from harm.
If diketopyrrolopyrrole, heavy metals, or other dangerous elements are found in the cat’s blood, the Animal Welfare Agency would confiscate the animal and fine the student up to NT $ 75,000, as required by law.
The university issued a statement on Tuesday apologizing for the incident, saying it had cooperated with the investigation.
It was said to have obtained confirmation from the student immediately after being notified of the problem on Tuesday last week.
The student initially claimed it was just a camera filter, but after further investigation by the teachers, she admitted that she had dyed the cat’s fur, the statement said.
There was a meeting with the student the next morning after which the animal welfare bureau called and asked for information, it added.
The university announced that a written request for information from the animal welfare office had arrived on Monday.
“The school has made it clear that it will fully cooperate and handle the situation appropriately,” she added.
The university also appealed to the public to stop criticizing the student for having expressed mental distress and at risk of harming oneself.
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