Taiwan has passed landmark animal protection laws imposing fines for the consumption of dog and cat meat as well as jail time for those who kill and torture animals.
The Animal Protection Act amendments approved by the Legislative Yuan on Tuesday punish the sale, purchase or consumption of dog or cat meat with fines ranging from NT$50,000 to NT$2 million.
The amendment’s sponsor, Kuomintang Legislator Wang Yu-min, said that while some localities already had measures banning dog and cat meat consumption, national legislation was needed.
She noted that Taiwan was the first country in Asia to pass such legislation.
The amendments also stiffen punishment for those who intentionally harm animals to a maximum two years’ imprisonment and fines of NT$200,000 to NT$2 million.
Repeat offenders can be jailed for one to five years and fined NT$500,000 to NT$5 million.
And pet owners can say goodbye to having their leashed dogs run alongside their scooters.
The amendments also make it illegal to “walk” animals via motor vehicles. Violators will be fined up to NT$15,000.
The amendments, which still need to be signed off on by the Cabinet and the Presidential Office, could take effect by as early as the end of this month.
Rising awareness of animal welfare in Taiwan has driven momentum for those seeking stronger animal protection laws, with growing indignation that most animal cruelty offenders are “let off too easy” without serving any jail time.
In recent years, high-profile cases of animal torture, including by members of the armed forces, have caused public outrage.