PETA: Sanchong shelter is an embarrassment to Taiwan
By Dimitri Bruyas, The China Post
June 7, 2008, 12:00 am TWN
TAIPEI, Taiwan -- Sanchong Mayor Lee Chien-lung has turned a deaf ear so far to a Hong Kong-based animal rights organization's sustained complaints about care provided in the local animal refuge.
"It is an outrage that animals would be allowed to suffer in this way," writes Jason Baker, director of People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) in his May 29 letter to the mayor.
"Sanchong shelter is an embarrassment to Taiwan and has proven to be the worst shelter in the country," he adds.
But to no avail. The mayor, the cleaning and veterinarian departments just put the blame on each other.
PETA has been working with animal shelters all over Taiwan for the last few years in an effort to improve conditions for animals. The non-profit interest group has more than 1.8 million members and supporters worldwide.
However, the group deplores the fact that with the exception of the Sanchong shelter, all other shelters on the island have made notable improvements in recent years.
On May 21, during a routine visit to Sanchong's animal refuge, PETA staffers found a dog lying on the cement floor of a kennel unable to walk or even lift its head.
The dog houses had just been cleaned, but the shelter staff had made no attempt to move the wounded animal, as it was soaked in water as well as his own feces, blood and urine.
The shivering animal's fur was matted, pus oozed from his eyes, and his back legs were swollen and covered in lacerations.
Although PETA staffers immediately requested a veterinarian, the man failed to euthanize the dog properly. It later died in transport to a veterinary clinic.
"Sanchong's shelter has only gone from bad to worse," writes Baker, in reference to the various inspections PETA members have conducted since 2004.
He further argues that the current facility does not provide any protection from the rain, wind, or sun, while suggesting installing a curtain-like system that would allow workers to protect the dogs from the element.
Contacted by The China Post, the office of the mayor declined to comment on the letter, as Lee Chien-lung's secretary merely sent inquiries about PETA's letter from one department to another.
"It's a temporary shelter ... we are improving slowly, but there isn't enough staff on the spot," admitted Doctor Jimmy Chao, the veterinarian in charge of Sanchong city government's animal shelter.
Chao used the refuge's limited financial of the local government as an excuse for the terrible condition at the refuge, which accommodates thousands of stray dogs, cats, pigs and chickens each year.
"Our total budget for medical treatments amounts to no more than NT$40,000 per year," he acknowledged.
"I know that the shelter is on a small budget, but the bottom line is that if the shelter does not have the budget to care for these animals, they should not be taking them in," replied Ashley Fruno, who, conducted the routine visit at Sanchong's animal refuge on May 21.
Fruno, a senior campaigner for PETA Asia-Pacific, contended that the shelter allows animal suffering to occur on a day to day basis, which is inexcusable.
"The sad reality is that these animals are likely better off on the street than at Sanchong's shelter," she explained, calling the refuge "a national embarrassment."