What you need to know
The Taiwan Animal Protection Party is striving to raise more public awareness of animal rights through politics.
The Taiwan Animal Protection Party was officially founded on Aug. 8 as the first political party in Taiwan focusing on pushing the government to create and amend current animal welfare laws.
The coalition consists of more than 300 members including businesspeople, students, animal shelter owners, taxi drivers and Buddhist monks. The group believes every animal deserves equal rights and the Animal Protection Act needs to be amended.
Although there are various shelters and associations helping animals in Taiwan, there was no political party devoted to animal welfare — most existing political parties only support general animal wellbeing.
Dr. Cheng Huei-yuan (鄭惠元) and Hua Pei-jun (華珮君) announced their intention to establish a legitimate political party in late April to assist all animals, not only stray dogs and cats.
“It’s not only about first-line rescue,” Cheng and Hua told The News Lens International. “We feel the best way to bring attention to animal rights is through policy and legislation.”
Short and long-term goals
The Taiwan Animal Protection Party is currently focusing on a number of short-term goals. At the top of the list is helping animal shelters become legal. The group says there are nearly 148 animal shelters in Taiwan, but only a handful are legal.
Cheng and Hua say that from their records, each shelter takes care of about 100 animals, which means there are approximately 14,800 animals in shelters around Taiwan.
The pair says that afforts by the government to simply build more animal shelters will not solve the problem posed by the large number of stray animals.
Based on their research, over 1.3 million stray dogs have been euthanized in the past 15 years, and the party believes a solution for decreasing this number is TNR (Trap, Neuter, Return) — a method of capturing stray dogs, neutering or spaying them before returning them back to their original location.
“If we don’t want to take care of them [stray animals], they will continue reproducing. The stray animals, especially dogs, will suffer without regulating the births. But TNR is illegal under policy and legislation,” the two say. Because of this, the Taiwan Animal Protection Party plans to legalize TNR.
Another short-term goal for the party is setting up offices in cities throughout Taiwan to spread the word about the party. Cheng and Hua hope to start small by attracting various boroughs chiefs, especially those favoring animal welfare rights, to support the party.
The pair says this will help the Taiwan Animal Protection Party in the 2018 elections. Cheng says she plans to run for 2018 Taipei mayor and the party will focus its electoral efforts in Taipei and New Taipei City.
The party plans to use other political platforms, and Cheng and Hua say the coalition wants to join efforts with all animal welfare organizations, whether NGO or governmental.
“It’s still a very early stage for our party. Our first stage is for animal protection, of course. Other policies will come later,” Cheng and Hua say. “The existing political parties pay little attention to animal rights. Possibly less than 5 percent, so we think we’re the only party that’s going to protect animals in Taiwan.”
First Editor: Olivia Yang
Second Editor: Edward White