TAIPEI (Taiwan News) -- Taiwan’s National Chengchi University (NCCU) is home to many societies and clubs. Some are for entertainment, sports and academics, but there is one which looks towards an altruistic focus. The Life-Respect Student Club has taken it upon themselves to care for the many stray dogs on the NCCU campus that call it home.
The stray dogs can at first sight look like a very odd addition to the university. However, it is very common in Taiwan to have stray dogs on campus.
The animals pose no threat and are quite friendly to passers-by. The front of the main library in NCCU is one such place to see the stray dogs resting up in the Taiwanese heat.
Care for the stray dogs in NCCU is provided by the Life-Respect Student Club. In an interview with club members Kao Pin-hsuan (高品瑄) and Wu Kuan-wei (伍冠瑋), they explained that each club member has a different reason for wanting to take care of the dogs.
Kao explained that her reasoning is that she believes that humans and animals must learn to live together. She also believes that animals deserve as much of this planet’s space as humans do and that we must co-exist together.
Wu explained that as a vegan, his lifestyle and world-view is to respect and love animals. He was happy to show the green lettering on his t-shirt that had "vegan" written across the front.
They explained that the dogs are not dangerous and are very friendly. They also stated that there are no aggressive dogs on the campus, and if there were, they would be relocated elsewhere.
Added to this, it was also stated that a high majority of stray dogs on campus were born in the wild. Not many of these dogs were abandoned, like most strays are in Europe. This also explains why the dogs are of a similar size, because stray dogs are not pedigrees and the breed of stray dog has led them to be medium sized.
When asked how are the dogs cared for, the response was that the animals are vaccinated, neutered, and given check-ups by veterinarians.
The funding for this care comes from the university. This not only ensures the welfare of the animals, but it also helps to curb the number of strays.
Wu and Kao pointed out that the weather is a major factor in why stray dogs can survive in Taiwan. The Winter weather is not cold enough to pose a problem for the animals in the wild.
Although Summer months can be swelteringly hot, the dogs can survive. They did comment that they are not sure where the animals go when typhoons land in Taiwan, but it is obvious wherever they go, they are at least safe from the worst of the elements.
However, the dogs have not always been so welcome on the campus. In 2012, professors in NCCU had put forward the motion to expel the stray dogs from the campus.
This was greeted with a backlash from students, whose efforts safeguarded their furry little friends from being expelled from the university. The heart of the issue was that expelling the dogs would result in them being relocated to animal shelters, where they may be euthanized.
When asked if there has been any call for the stray dogs to be expelled in recent months, Wu and Kao explained that the situation now is not the same as it was before and the dogs are not in trouble of being expelled from the campus. They are very much welcome by students and faculty.
They also mentioned a woman they called "Compassionate Mother" (愛心媽媽). They said that every Summer and Winter vacation, the club goes to her home in Hualien to help her care for her many stray dogs.
In the past, she had 100 dogs, but many have passed away and she now cares for between 30-40 dogs at any one time. Club members take the trip south to help her because caring for one dog can be hard enough, but caring for a dozen or more is a full-time job.
The important message taken from the interview was that it is important to care for stray dogs, instead of treating them like pests. It is true that stray animals can be dangerous when they are in a feral state, but from what can be observed on the NCCU campus, these animals are passive and pose no threat to students, or other dogs.
It might be the case that having stray dogs on campus may have created a sentiment among some professors in 2012 to make them feel that having stray dogs on campus undermined the university’s reputation. However, by caring for the animals and giving them an impromptu home, the university’s reputation is far more respected as a place that has compassion.
Members from the Life-Respect Student Club in NCCU