In a trailblazing decision, Taiwan has made the human consumption of dog and cat meat illegal in the country. According to the Focus Taiwan news channel, the island's legislature passed an amendment to its Animal Protection Act on April 11 that "prohibits the slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption and increases the penalty for cruelty to animals."
Offenders who cause "deliberate harm to animals that results in mangled limbs, organ failure or death" could face up to two years in prison and thousands of dollars in fines. The amendment also "prohibits drivers and motorcycle riders from pulling animals along on a leash."
This groundbreaking piece of legislation makes Taiwan the first Asian country to ban the consumption of cat and dog meat.
Animal lovers around the world are hoping this will spark change throughout Asia and put an end to controversial events like the Yulin dog meat festival in China, where an estimated 10,000 canines are killed every year.
"Taiwan's progressive ban is part of a growing trend across Asia to end the brutal dog meat trade, and reflects the fact that a huge number of people in Asian countries do not in fact eat dog and cat and are appalled by the cruel and often crime-fueled trade," Wendy Higgins, the spokesperson and communications director of the Humane Society International, said in a statement.
"Taiwan also sends a strong signal to countries such as China and South Korea, where the dog meat trade remains and millions of dogs are killed by beating, hanging, or electrocution for eating," she continued. "It's time for change, and bans like the one in Taiwan utterly dispel the myth that this is promoted by Western sentimentality. The animal protection movement is growing rapidly across Asia, and the calls for an end to dog meat cruelty are getting louder and louder."
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