TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Outrage was sparked following an incident in Keelung (基隆) on Wednesday, when a stray dog was killed by a pet pit bull terrier.
A Facebook user posted a message in a Keelung daily news Facebook group, including pictures, that claimed a pit bull owner had allowed his pet to attack a stray dog. Despite efforts from local residents to drive the pit bull away using sticks and scooter helmets, it continued to attack until the stray eventually died from blood loss, he wrote.
The story has been picked up by multiple Chinese-language news outlets. A number of violent incidents involving pit bull terriers attacking people have hit headlines over recent years, bringing society to question whether Taiwan ought to follow in the footsteps of other countries and ban or restrict ownership of the dog breed.
The author of the post claimed this was not the first time the owner had let his dog out of sight. He noted that the owner had already been punished for a similar incident, and claimed he purposely allowed his dog to kill the stray.
The Storm reports that Thursday, staff from the Animal Protection Office visited the site of the incident to collect evidence. The owner told the staff his dog unexpectedly escaped, and after discovering what had happened, immediately took the stray to receive emergency veterinary treatment. The dog however died due to a rupture in its head.
The Animal Protection Office said the pet pit bull terrier has been taken away, and mentioned that the owner was fined NT$30,000 (US$973) last May after it attacked another stray. The office said after a full investigation is complete, if the owner is found to have purposely allowed his dog to kill the stray, the case will be presented to the district prosecutor’s office.
The owner could face up to two years in prison, plus a fine of between NT$200,000 and NT$2,000,000, a representative said.
The pit bull terrier is regarded as a “dangerous dog” by the Executive Yuan’s Council of Agriculture, which states on its website that the animal is bred for cruel purposes including fighting. Dangerous dogs are required to be muzzled and kept on a leash at all times in public places, but are still allowed to be raised as pets.
Although the breed’s apparent aggressive nature is usually blamed when a person is attacked, The Storm notes online commenters largely shamed the owner for failing to restrain his dog and control its temperament.
Keelung municipal councilor Scofield Chang (張顥瀚) wrote an additional Facebook post Thursday saying the Animal Protection Office believes the pit bull owner has violated Article 25 of the Animal Protection Law. He urged citizens to remain calm and not make any irrational actions despite their anger.
Pictures posted by the councilor show someone had already taken to graffiti the side of the dog owner’s house.