Equal consideration is the key point with stray dogs
The China Post news staffDespite Buddha's teachings to revere all living creatures, a large campaign is now under way to destroy all stray dogs in Taiwan. For about a week, the general public has also been encouraged to report them to local authorities, though such attempts have so far resulted in prolonged suffering for the hapless victims.
January 16, 2013, 12:00 am TWN
In response to such inhumane policy, the Taiwan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA,台灣防止虐待動物協會) issued a statement on Friday, urging Taichung authorities to catch the dogs that attack people and not the harmless puppies. But to no avail.
The Taichung government kicked off a crackdown a day earlier following a news report that a 2-year-old boy was seriously injured in late December after being attacked by more than 10 stray dogs on the city's famous Tanyashen Biking Trail (潭雅神自行車道). But do ends justify the means?
People often ask if animals should have rights, and quite simply, most of us agree that animals deserve to live their lives free from suffering and exploitation. The first articulate stating of this perspective could be credited to noted Australian philosopher Peter Singer, whose famous book “Animal Liberation” (1975) states that the basic principle of equality does not require equal or identical treatment; it requires “equal consideration.”
Such moral principle is clearly at the center of Taiwanese artist Chu Chun-teng's (朱駿騰) avant-garde work “My Name is Little Black,” (我叫小黑) currently on display at the Taipei Fine Arts Museum (台北市立美術館).
The recipient of the 2012 Taipei Arts Awards (2012台北美術獎) came under the spotlight recently for attempting to teach a Crested Myna bird to say its name in 26 different languages, including Mandarin, Taiwanese, Hakka, English, Japanese, Spanish, Dutch and various aboriginal dialects. Chu was attempting to reflect on over 400 years of Taiwanese history.
Although the art installation is surrounded by eight speakers that repeat the same statement, “My Name is Little Black,” every 15 seconds in one of the 26 languages, the museum makes sure that the bird gets a 10-minute pause every 40 minutes and the sounds remain under 60 decibels.
According to the Taipei City Animal Protection Office (台北市動物保護處), which already paid a visit to the museum, the animal has received proper consideration and successfully adapted to its new environment.
In the Taichung case, however, the Taiwan SPCA is right to stress that only aggressive animals should be captured. Mass and indiscriminate captures are not only inhumane, but won't solve the problem either.
To the contrary, we believe that the decision to destroy stray dogs has been taken as an easy choice and without any proper assessment of other possible options. According to statistics from the Animal Protection Policy Watch Alliance, 127,710 stray dogs were captured in 2009, including 42,819 animals which reportedly had owners. Other data showed that only 0.18 percent of captured dogs between 2007 and 2010 had harmed people.
These figures show that stray dogs and aggressive animals are separate issues. If authorities want to address the growing number of abandoned pets, they should focus on how to regulate irresponsible pet owners.
In the meantime, local authorities should properly train their staff on the capturing of animals to make sure stray dogs are given proper consideration, aggressive or not.