Taiwanese dogs: treated like trash

The Taiwanese government has an appalling reputation when it comes to dealing with stray animals. Before the Animal Protection Law came into effect in 1998, the methods used to dispose of unwanted animals were horrifying. Images of dogs being drowned in cages, electrocuted, buried alive or starved led to a massive public outcry, both national and international. The protests did have a positive effect as the government subsequently passed a new animal welfare law and put resources into building more animal pounds, buying catching equipment and providing training. Despite all the money spent on this issue, the welfare of stray animals has unfortunately hardly improved at all and stray animal numbers appear to be increasing, as shown by the EAST survey.

Thousands of stray dogs are dumped in remote areas where they live miserable lives before dying a sad and lonely death.  Dongshang dog pound: no staff to look after the animals. Even the water bowls are filled with excrement.

Left to die after living in hell During their three-year investigation, EAST conducted interviews and field visits to discover where the thousands of dogs and cats taken from the streets of Taiwan actually end up. They assessed 326 cities and towns that dump their stray animals in one of 140 government-run facilities. Chen Yu-min, Secretary General of EAST, states: “The suffering I witnessed at the pounds was beyond imagination. All kinds of dogs are crowded together in small cages, and the weak or sick ones can’t find a space to lie down or even get to the mildewed food. There’s no shelter from extreme weather conditions. Animals are just left to ‘naturally’ die, either by disease or by deprivation of food and water. Even emergency humane euthanasia would be a relief in many cases but it’s not being done. This is a living hell for stray animals.”

The middle dog in this tiny cage in Heng Chun, Pingdong county dog pound is paralysed. The other two have no space to lie down.  A dog in pain from maggot wounds is waiting for a ‘natural’ death in Mingxiong village pound. No medical treatment for him. 

Government pounds are waste grounds Dog catching is still being done by the Rubbish Collection Squad. This stems from the time prior to the passing of the Animal Protection Law in 1998, when stray animals fell under the Waste Disposal and Management Law. The EAST report shows that these dog catchers lack animal handling skills and are unconcerned about the animals’ welfare. Animals are often piled up in trucks without ventilation or water for days. Then they are transported to pounds which are usually in garbage dumps, or in remote areas near cemeteries or slaughterhouses. Out of the 140 government-run municipal facilities, EAST was shocked to find that 104 of them were temporary animal holding facilities which were created by the Rubbish Collection Squad and have no legal status. The housing conditions for animals are even worse at these places.

Xinying Waste Disposal Squad holds dogs in trucks without ventilation or water, and the animals are kept there for days. Stray animals are literally being regarded as rubbish. Beidou pound in Zhanghua county is located at a garbage dump. 

The numbers are shocking, the cruelty well-hidden In the ten-year period from 1999 to 2008 an astounding 900,000 stray dogs were sent to government pounds, of which the vast majority (650,000) were put to sleep. With an average intake of nearly 90,000 animals annually, and with numbers increasing, there appears to be no end in sight to the suffering of stray animals. Everything is done to keep the pounds hidden from the public eye. No one is allowed to take pictures and cages are sometimes covered with plastic boards. High fences are placed around the pounds, with warning signs to discourage visitors. These measures make it virtually impossible to recover a lost pet, let alone adopt an animal.

To cover up for the poor conditions, the Tu Cheng dog pound just wraps the cages in tarpaulin to make the problems ‘disappear’. Barbed wire and a sign stating “dangerous dogs inside” scare off visitors and potential adopters. 

Take action EAST and ACTAsia are urging the Taiwanese Government to:

  • Create standard operating guidelines for local municipalities on setting up and running a pound. These guidelines should prioritise animal needs and welfare.
  • Set up an animal warden system in each municipality to allow humane management of stray animals. It should immediately stop using garbage collectors to catch strays. Stray animals are living creatures, not garbage!
  • Tackle the root causes of stray animal issues by strict enforcement of pet industry regulations, including breeding farms, pet traders and pet shops.


Please add your voice to this call, and write to the President of Taiwan, Mr. Ma Ying-jeou. You can use our sample letter or state your concerns –always politely- in your own words.

Please forward this call for action to others to support this campaign too.

For more detailed information, visit EAST’s website. And if you would like to support this important campaign, please {cms_selflink page=’get-involved’ text=’make a donation’} using the reference “dogs Taiwan”.

On behalf of the thousands of forgotten dogs and cats in Taiwan: Thank you!