Animal shelters lack volunteers, leave many dogs unwalked

Only public shelters in the six special municipalities have over 10 volunteers, and some do not even have one.

Dogs in public animal shelters in Taiwan lack walking, said an animal protection group. (Source: Pexels)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Less than half of the dogs in public animal shelters around Taiwan are regularly walked due to a shortage of volunteers and lack of playgrounds in certain shelters, said the Taiwan Animal Protection Monitor Network (台灣動物保護行政監督聯盟).

The network looked at the participation of volunteers at 29 public animal shelters and their volunteering work, and concluded that the majority of the dogs in public shelters did not have enough walks, said Ho Tsung-hsun (何宗勳), head of the network.

"Public animal shelters are short of volunteers and services," said Wang Wei-chi (王唯治), convener of the network.

“Only five out of the total 29 shelters have more than 10 volunteers, and some did not even have one,” said Wang.

There are five shelters without a playground where dogs can be walked, said Ho, adding that his organization is trying to get dogs in the shelters two walks a day, with each walk lasting 15 to 30 minutes.

Chiang Wen-chuan (江文全), official at the animal protection unit of the Council of Agriculture (農委會動保科), said that volunteers are hard to recruit in counties where public shelters tend to be located in remote areas compared to Taiwan’s six main municipalities.

"The newly built shelters are all equipped with playgrounds; those without were older shelters built long ago," said Chiang.

The council will take the network’s advice into account and continue to push for recruitment of volunteers for public shelters, said Chiang, adding that they also hoped to get more support from local people.  

Volunteer information can be found on the website of municipalities' animal protection office.

After a revision to the Animal Protection Act that bans stray animal euthanasia took effect in February, the living conditions of animals in public shelters remain an issue, especially as some shelters are overcrowded with animals and yet do not have enough staffing or proper facilities to take care of the animals.  

More than a hundred people took to the streets in Chiayi City Saturday to call on the city government to build a new public animal shelter.

City government official Huang Shih-chien (黃世賢) responded that the construction plan for a new public animal shelter has taken seven open bids without success. There will be an eighth bid on July 18 after some adjustments have been made to the plan and hopefully the bid will be taken and the construction begin soon, he said.