Cats and Dogs in Taiwan

Both times that I’ve been in Taiwan, I’ve seen a lot of cats and dogs on the streets. Most of them looked like they were unhealthy and hungry, and I take it were all strays. I’ve got to admit, I have a soft spot for pets, and it was tough seeing all them on the street. I take it many people don’t have pets because they live in apartments and it’s difficult in the big cities to take a pet out for a walk without getting runover. And, most people don’t have yards to let their pets play in.

Has the situation improved at all in Taiwan? I mean, are they sterilizing animals more now than before? Are there fewer animals on the streets? I don’t want to see these cats and dogs put to sleep. Ideally, they should be taken to a rural setting.

Yep. The stray dog and cat population here is awful, but not many people are even bothering to put them to sleep, let alone neuter and spay. It’s kinda sickening.

It looks like someone is starting to do something about it though. See this link for more details.

I know a few people who have picked up kittens off the street, given them a good bath and taken them to the vet, and they’ve turned out to be great kitties! Personally, I brought my cats with me and went through the whole quarantine thing with them, so I got to spend a fair amount of time at the veterinary hospital in Taichung. It was not the most pleasant experience, but now that it is over, I’m glad I brought them! I would be miserable without them!


Hey, if it gets rid of the problem then i am for it, some might not like this approach …

Only trouble is in a short while it will only happen again as most people here have no idea of what looking after a pet is all about.

As an “animal person” that was the hardest part for me when I first came here. The street animals are in horrid condition and their lives as family pets aren’t much better; despite having a buddhist heritage and claiming to respect animals, I haven’t found this to be the case.

Recently a student of mine gave me a tiny puppy that her father had beaten senseless because it had the nerve to cry at night (apparently puppies shouldn’t do this; I must have had dysfunctional puppies growing up) and he was going to take it into the country and “set it free” like so many of the disposable dogs you see in the street. We agreed to take her short-term until a proper home was found, and later found her a home with a very nice girl studying to be a veterinarian. With many tears, I bid “my” puppy adeiu, only to have her returned about six weeks later because it “wasn’t working out”.

My puppy was a different dog. She was fearful, slinking around like a taiwanese street dog, and cried whenever left alone, even if one of us went to the bathroom. She had a skin condition that we’re still working on, but it’s been worth it; she once again acts like a confident “western” dog and is the sweetest thing, though much much bigger. To this day, though, she’s afraid of thin Chinese men and will bark violently or just jump up wanting to be held.

So what to do? At one time, I said I would never adopt a dog in Taiwan because I couldn’t give it a good home, but now my opinion differs; I’m giving a dog a home that is better than that of any Southern Taiwanese dogs that I’ve encountered, and she seems healthy and well adjusted, and should be happy when we take her to Canada.

The most useful website I’ve found about dogs or cats in Taiwan is from the Taipei Abandoned Animal Rescue Foundation (which is actually how I linked to ORIENTED, through another page). If you type “Taiwan dog” into a search engine, it should come up. Consider helping them out; they help animals in the shelters by bringing them to adoptive families in North America, and they have some information about quarantine laws, etc.

Living in Taipei city, I’d have to say this situation has improved a bit over the years. Just a bit. I used to run into ‘tumor’ dogs very often on the streets, but now, I believe they’re incinerated regularly by the dog squad. I would venture to guess that the countryside or areas outside Taipei still see their fair share of diseased and mangey hounds. And yes, this is a shocking state of affairs considering the affluence of the Taiwan people.

I feel like ripping my heart out every time I see boxes of kitties and puppies at the markets because I know, that even if they are taken home, they’re likely to NEVER lead a decent life or be taken care of properly by their owners. They’re either caged up, put on the balcony for their existence, never taken for walks, rarely played with, beaten for doing doggy or kitty things and generally considered a nuisance until they’re dumped in the countryside as one poster mentioned above.

I have rescued at least a dozen kitties from the streets, and a handful of dogs and found them good (western) homes, and the two cats I have now were also refugee kittens, and they are the sweetest wee wees in the world. I would seriously consider taking in a few more cats, but I know I just can’t…

I do not understand why one would want to buy a pet in this town when there are so many adorable abandoned ones who should have a chance to flourish in a nice home. And those bastards at the markets should be strung up by their balls for taking part in the further abuse of our furry friends by letting them go to just anyone. In the US, you are screened by the Humane society when you want to adopt a pet, there isn’t even a Humane society IN Taiwan…See: Humane Society International Supports Animal Welfare in Taiwan

Please, people, if you feel the need to adopt a pet, go to Grandma Nitti’s and ask Rainbow or anyone there, she usually has a few around that people have dumped on her when they’ve found them on the streets, etc. The main reason I support Nitti’s as a patron at all, is because I know she does a lot for the stray population of Taipei.

The Taipei Abandoned Animal Rescue Foundation was founded by a Taipei American School girl named Mina Sharpe who thought that the situation was so disheartening here that she actually did something about it. I don’t know if this young lady has graduated and moved back to America or not, but she did a great service to the domestic animals of Taiwan by getting this organisation going. SHE is a young heroine who is also deserving of a Taiwan APRC, but she probably doesn’t want one…

Horrible treatment of pets doesn’t just stop with dogs and cats. Just a week or so ago, I found a box of dying/dead hamsters in the park on Shida Rd. There were about eight in the box, it was boiling hot, and someone had just dumped them there. It’s just idiotic that the person who dumped them didn’t even bother to try to give them to a pet shop.
And overt your eyes if you go to Snake Alley, if not for the snakes, for the poor Macaqs, the native Taiwan monkeys.

I try to make sense of it all by reasoning that in general (with a few exceptions) Chinese people do not care for animals because their people suffered so much through the ages and animals (any kind) were either used for work or eaten, so bonds were generally not formed with pets as in Western countries. But this situation in a “modern” society like Taiwan is extremely backwards, and I believe the only way to change things is through education. So, if anyone out there teaches kids, I surely hope that you’re making inroads daily about the humane treatment of animals.

I’m practically ‘et up’ now by this whole issue, while one of my gutter-rescued kitties, lazes on my feet.

Why feed them human body parts when a can of pet food would do?

There’s a stray dog that hangs around my neighborhood. He’s very friendly and he wags his tail whenever he sees me (because I’m the only one who pets him). But he looks very emaciated (just skin and bones) and he has a serious flea problem, and recently he’s been starting to lose his hair.

For the last few months, I’ve been watching him get thinner and thinner, so since about a week ago, I started feeding him some table scraps once a day. He’s very happy to get the scraps of meat that I feed him, but then he found out where I live and now he’s laying down in front of my front door all day and he follows me around every time I walk outside. I don’t mind it, but my wife (who’s Taiwanese) gets angry every time she sees the dog near me and keeps telling me that the best thing to do is to let him starve to death “to relieve him of his misery”. Also she doesn’t like the dog following me around because she’s afraid of fleas getting on me and then getting into the house (although so far, I haven’t gotten any flea bites yet).

I’ll give 1000 NT to anyone who agrees to adopt this dog and give him a good home. (However, you’ll have to come here to Jiayi County to pick up the dog.)

Mark: Get a divorce and marry Alien instead.

While you’re waiting for Alien to think about it, you can buy from the vet’s a kind of fluid that you apply to the skin between the dog’s shoulderblades, which then gets rid of the fleas and ticks on the dog’s body*. Once the fleas are gone, your wife might allow you to bring the dog in and give it a shower. Meanwhile you will have been feeding it, so it should be looking plumper and prettier. Also, it might have ear mites and mange. These can be cured in about a month. By the time you’ve done all that, the dog might be looking attractive enough for your wife to change her mind about it. Or a neighbour, or whoever. Good luck.

*Warning - That stuff is for dogs only, it’s poisonous for cats.

Regarding what Alien said in her post, re. Mina Sharpe, she has gone back to America, but has the taarf program working again in full swing. From what she’s said on her website and what she’s told me, it sounds like the Taipei American School is still doing a lot of the work in Taiwan, and they’re planning to bring several dogs to America and Canada this summer to find them “proper” homes, or at least to live in proper shelters until this can happen. Also, the program seems to be getting more media attention, so let’s cross our fingers.

As for what you said about that stray, Mark, I suggest you continue to do what you can; my dog has a friend like that too, and she’s a darling, so we visit her on our walks and give her some food and water; I’ve put some frontline on her for ticks and fleas and am considering getting her spayed, but of course that raises certain moral questions. It’s OK to feed and pet strays, but maybe getting them fixed requires a greater degree of responsibility. Hmmm, I guess it’s good as food for thought anyway… Any thoughts?

I don’t see any other solution other than to exterminate all those strays. The shelters are full, and adoption is minimal. It’s better than letting them run around starving to death and diseased. I have a dog myself (16years), so I’m not being cruel.

I agree. There is a woman who feeds strays under the Jienguo overpass heading out of town to the airport. I stopped counting at 50 dogs, there were many more. Given the sheer number of strays it is just plain dangerous around there.

I can understand the belief that putting the strays to sleep will ease their and everyone else’s pain. But look at the situation. We took over their land, their homes, and now we want to take their lives to ease their and our pain. Cats and dogs were on the earth before we were. I’m not saying that no cities should be built, but it seems like a better (albeit more expensive) solution might be to spay and neuter strays, build larger parks, and increase taxes (especially for the rich) to help fund a humane society and better shelters. Heck, the parks would make Taipei and other big cities look nicer anyway. I think people would be happier with larger parks, and though there wouldn’t be as much land to build on, it would force them to move outside the big cities and ease the urban spraw.

I realize this brings up problems, like where do the people go. Taiwan doesn’t have a lot of land, and much of it’s mountainous. And, I realize that I’m pushing western, especially American, beliefs on the Taiwanese (that pets, like dogs and cats, should be treated better) is wrong. To some, this may sound stupid, but it seems to me that the humane treatment of animals like cats and dogs should be a basic human cause for all to work toward. They may be smaller than us and may not be as intelligent as us, but they provide so much warmth and companionship to so many, we owe them more.

I guess this is just one of a million things that society in general should improve on. Hopefully I’m not ticking anyone off.

BTW, while we’re on the topic, I have to say that Americans aren’t perfect when it comes to treating animals well. I read in today that some guy here in the U.S. BBQ’d a live kitten. It was found alive, but had to be put to sleep because it was so severely injured and in so much pain. The guy got 5 years and a sizeable fine. Personally, I think he should have been punished with a much longer sentence. A woman I work with said they should give him the same punishment he gave the cat.


I think anthropomorphism and the ownership of animals for selfish ‘human’ reasons is a pretty sad thing.

Well, at least they’re not being eaten unlike in Korea and China.

I don’t think animals should even be sold in Taiwan as pets until the public changes and improves its attitude and treatment towards animals and resolves its stray situation. But unfortunately, this is easier said then done and will take time.

Well, here in the States many animals sold in pet stores are also not properly taken care of. Wish I can buy every poor looking puppy I see in the store. I saw a really cute beagle and labrador both priced at US$1000 each. OUUCH!!!

Who says they don’t eat dogs here? Also include Thailand, the Philippines, Cambodia and Vietnam.

I wouldn’t be so sure about that! The law has only recently stipulated that dog meat is illegal to sell in Taiwan, but that doesn’t mean that it’s not eaten here anymore!!!

But on this, I take a different stance. If eating dog meat could be considered a form of “appreciation” towards these animals, then dig in. Maltreatment is far worse, IMO.

If you have a black dog and winter is coming, you better lock that pooch up! Fei-Fei, who was only 6 months old, had her chain cut and was stolen out of my front yard the day before Winter Soltice several years ago…I know she ended up in someone’s pot.
You never heard of “hsiang rou”?

If any of you are even considering helping a local stray with vet treatment, I’d suggest that one of your earliest choices, before flea and tick treatment, should be distemper shots and heartworm screening.

Fleas, ticks and worms are unpleasant but usualy non-fatal. Distemper and heartworm are killers.

I had a stray living outside my door (a quiet, traffic-free alley with his own doghouse), one of the gentlest, most friendly (but clumsy) beasts I’ve ever met. He got distemper and went from a 60-pound muscular lump to an emaciated skeleton in about 6 weeks.

It was very hard to find a vet willing to kill him and took a lot of time, by which time the dog was blind, soiling himself, in almost permanent nervous spasm – I was on the point of smashing his head in with a shovel at one point.

Heartworm is easily preventable with a monthly prophylactic which is like a dog treat and easily administered. If the dog actually gets this nasty parasite, which is passed on through mosquitoes, it is very difficult and expensive to treat and the treatment is very unpleasant for the animal. I’m speaking from experience here.

So, distemper first, then heartworm screening, then the fleas, ticks, tapeworms, hookworms, etc.

I can understand what you say, and agree that we shouldn’t adopt pets for our own good without regard to theirs. I also agree we shouldn’t be anthropomorphotic. But, I believe that the quality of a domesticated animal’s life, like that of a cat or dog, can be improved if treated well and adopted by a family. At least, compared with living on the streets in a city like Taipei, Kaohsiung, or any other city for that matter, I believe being adopted by a caring family can help a domesticated animal live a better life. They may not be human, but there are basic needs inate in to all animals, including people. Needs like food, shelter (not necessarily a “house” like our own, but some shelter from the elements), security, etc. If a family can provide that, the quality of an animal’s life is already improved.

Anyway, I’m getting off the subject of this forumn. With regard to Taiwan, I personally don’t believe that animals should roam the cities there and die an essentially slow death, or be put to sleep. Perhaps better education and government policies could improve the situation. Otherwise, I just thought the animals would live better in rural settings than in the cities. But, as I said before, I know I may be pushing some American beliefs on Taiwan. I know, though, that there are definitely some, if not many, Taiwanese in Taiwan who either have pets and care a lot about them, or care about the strays. And, I am hoping that my beliefs can and are cross-cultural. I’m not into Americanizing other countries…far from it. This just seems to be a greater cause than an American one.


Although I do agree that the cat-dog problem is an issue I must say that I had the strangest experience the first time I was in Taiwan.

I was staying in a youth hostle outside taipei in a small “countryside” town. There were small packs of stray dogs running around the hostle’s large open compound. I remember going out with some friends around dawn and a pack of dogs followed us around (in a circle with us in the middle). The cool thing with the dogs followed us at a close distance, but not too close as too touch or get in the way. I felt almost like they just wanted to be friends, it felt kinda sad when they left. It wasn’t as corny as it sounds…