Update: Tsai Mutling Law Revised After Taiwan Euthanized 154 Smuggled Domestic Cats (Aug 22)
Kaohsiung, Aug. 21 (CNA) Quarantine officials in southern Taiwan on Saturday killed 154 domestic cats that had been smuggled into the country on a fishing boat two days earlier, according to the head of the Kaohsiung branch of the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection (BAPHIQ).
The cats were handed over to BAPHIQ in Kaohsiung on Friday by Coast Guard officials who intercepted the fishing vessel nine nautical miles off the coast of Tainan on Thursday and escorted it to Kaohsiung port, said Fu Hsueh-li (傅 學 理), the head of the BAPHIQ branch.
However, Coast Guard officials did not board the ship until the next day after the five crew members were tested for COVID-19 and the results were negative, according to BAPHIQ.
When Coast Guard officers searched the fishing boat, they found 154 domestic cats in 62 cages on board, including breeds such as Russian Blue, Ragdoll, Persian-American Shorthair and British Shorthair, Fu said.
Since the cats’ origins were unknown, they were euthanized on Saturday to prevent the importation of infectious diseases that could threaten the health of other animals and people in Taiwan, he said.
In addition, imports of animals into Taiwan require prior authorization, as well as inspection and quarantine of animals at the port of entry, Fu said, citing the Infectious Disease Prevention and Control Act.
If these requirements were not met, the imported animals would either be euthanized or refused entry under the law, he added.
However, animal welfare organizations condemned BAPHIQ’s decision on the grounds that it was unfortunate and showed a lack of flexibility.
“It is such an irony that government agencies are euthanizing the cats today, on International Homeless Animals Day,” five environmental groups said in a joint statement.
They also asked prosecutors to investigate the case and bring the smugglers to justice.
International Homeless Day, launched in 1992, is celebrated every year on the third Saturday in August.
Meanwhile, Anthony Ni (倪 京 台), spokesman for Taiwan Animal Rescue Team, said that while protecting the country’s ecosystem is important, Taiwanese authorities should keep in mind that smuggled animals are innocent.
Ni said he and his group had tried in the past to prevent Taiwanese authorities from destroying smuggled turtles and other animals, but failed because the law did not allow flexibility.
He called for changes to the relevant law to ensure humane treatment of smuggled animals and, for example, enable them to be adopted after inspection and quarantine.
(by Ho Wen-ting, Wu Hsin-yun and Teng Pei-ju)
End article / pc