Animal protection groups and animal lovers had just launched a campaign to rescue 154 cats seized in an anti-smuggling operation in recent days, but were left reeling when authorities announced the animals had already been euthanized according to the law, today, August 21.
Taiwan Coast Guard Administration found the cats concealed on a fishing boat intercepted off the coast of Taiwan on Thursday. The 154 cats, believed to have originated from breeders in China, were made up of rare breeds that can fetch a high market price in Taiwan.
According to the law, animals brought into the country via illegal channels must be euthanized.
Taiwan Animal Emergency Rescue Team offered to pay for the costs of quarantine and proper care, and to arrange adoption for the cats. However, the Kaohsiung Branch of the Animal and Plant Quarantine Bureau of the Council of Agriculture said that animals identified as smuggled goods must be euthanized in accordance with the law and cannot be placed for adoption.
Huang Yanyu, the former Chairman of the Kaohsiung branch of the Democratic Progressive Party sent an urgent email to fellow DPP member and cat lover President Tsai Ing-wen urging an intervention to save the cats.
But while efforts to save the cats had just begun, animal protection groups and the general public were stunned to learn the cats were already euthanized this afternoon. The Animal and Plant Quarantine Bureau announced that they had completed euthanizing the 154 cats at 4:00 pm.
The authorities said that the smuggled animals have not been quarantined. They may introduce rabies or other animal diseases from abroad, “creating a situation that cannot be controlled,” and subsequent animal epidemic prevention and even human health may be affected.
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