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Love your pets like they're your Valentine

TAIPEI, Taiwan -- “Love your pets like they are your Valentine.”

That was the message at a special dating event held on Sunday by the Taiwan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA) to urge people not to abandon their pets for fear of rabies.

The SPCA worked with Pet Fun and iMatch Box to invite 14 single pet owners, who let their furry friends choose a partner for their owners before Chinese Valentine's Day, which fell on Tuesday.

Local celebrity Hannah Quinlivan attended the event to promote the idea of not abandoning pets.

A pet owner herself, with two poodles and a Pomeranian, Quinlivan said the thing that makes her the happiest after a long working day is playing with and cuddling her three puppies.

“All pet owners should take responsibility for and always protect their pets under any circumstances,” said Quinlivan.

The founder of iMatch Box, Lin Yu-hui said that he actually found his pet dog on the street and he has been taking care of his dog as if it is his own child.

“I often take my dog to my office with me because I like to spend all my free time with my dog and take care of it,” said Lin.

Chiang Yi-ju (姜怡如), chief executive officer of SPCA Taiwan, said that even though there have been confirmed rabies cases in Taiwan recently, they are all limited to ferret-badgers and a single house shrew.

“Pet owners should not overreact to rabies as long as the pets' rabies vaccinations are up to date,” Chiang said, “and abandoning pets is not only a cruel behavior but it will also increase the difficulty for the government to conduct rabies prevention.”

According to the SPCA, some people have been randomly killing stray dogs and cats, and the amount of pets being abandoned has increased dramatically after the news broke about rabies being discovered in Taiwan again after decades.

The SPCA also has an investigation department for the public to report animal abuse cases as well as a campaign started in 2012 to promote how to properly take care of pets.

According to the SPCA, the majority of cruelty investigations reported to it are cases in which pet owners neglect the welfare and health conditions of their animals.

Chiang said that it is crucial to educate the public because the number of pet owners in Taiwan over the past 10 years has increased dramatically, but there is seemingly low interest in animal welfare issues and an outdated and incorrect mentality toward pet ownership.

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Celebrity Hannah Quinlivan, third left, and iMatch Box founder Lin Yu-hui, fifth left, pose with single pet owners at a press conference in Taipei, last Sunday. The Taiwan Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals worked with Pet Fun and iMatch Box to invite 14 single pet owners and let their pets choose a partner for their owners before the Chinese Valentine's Day. (Courtesy of SPCA)

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