Sunday, 25 July 2010
Now, selling dog meat is illegal, and violators can be slapped with a nearly $8,000 fine, according to Huang Ching-Jung, secretary-general of Taiwan's Animal Protection Association. Eating dog is viewed by many Taiwanese as an embarrassing reminder of a poorer time.
Instead, Taiwanese have embraced dog-owning culture with a vengeance. Dogs are brought into restaurants, fussed over in public, dressed up in ridiculous outfits and wheeled to the park in frilly custom-made buggies.
Huang chalks up the rapid change in attitude to several factors. Taiwan's education level has risen rapidly, and animal welfare groups like his have successfully campaigned for better treatment of animals, with the media's help. The island has grown richer, meaning Taiwanese can now afford many types of meat, and can buy other medicines.
"You don't need dog meat to make you healthier, and we don't need dogs as a source of meat," said Huang. "So dogs have become our friends and companions."
Also, Taiwanese are increasingly shunning marriage and deciding not to have children (the island has one of Asia's lowest birth rates). Raising a dog has become a substitute. "It's like having a child — it becomes family," said Huang.
Finally, there's one all-important factor: "Dogs are very cute animals," Huang said.
The picture was taken at this year's Pets Show Tapei which took place earlier this month.