Taiwan mulls total ban on pit bulls

Taiwan could announce ban on pit bulls by end of September after six attacks so far this year

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(Taipei Police Department photo)

(Taipei Police Department photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — After a recent spate of attacks by American pit bull terriers, Taiwan is considering imposing an outright ban on owning the dogs.

In the latest incident, a pit bull mauled a poodle to death in a Taipei park on Sunday (Sept. 13). A similarly fatal encounter between a pit bull and a poodle occurred in a night market in Kaohsiung on Sept. 4.

In response to the latest incidents and a surge in attacks on people this year, the Council of Agriculture (COA) announced on Wednesday (Sept. 16) that it is considering banning the import, export, ownership, and breeding of purebred and mixed breed pit bulls in Taiwan, reported UDN. COA said that an official announcement could be issued as soon as the end of this month.

Cheng Chu-ching (鄭祝菁), Animal Protection section chief of the COA, said the legal work is still in progress, but if the proposed policy is implemented, the public will no longer be able to buy or own pit bulls. Those who already own the animals can keep them, but they must register the dogs with the local government and cannot breed them.

In order to ensure public safety, COA said that when raising pit bulls and other aggressive dogs, owners should always accompany their dogs when they go out, and use a leash and muzzle. The Council of Agriculture lists the following types of dogs as aggressive breeds: American pit bull terriers, Japanese Tosas, Neapolitan Mastiffs, Dogo Argentinos, Fila Brasileiro (Brazilain Mastiffs), and mastiffs.

According to COA statistics, in previous years there were about one to three people injured by pit bulls per year. This year, however, there have already been six attacks from approximately 500 pit bulls registered in the country.

Article 20 of the Animal Protection Act (動保法) stipulates that aggressive dogs must be accompanied by their adult owners at all times, be placed on a leash that does not exceed 1.5 meters, and be muzzled in public places, with the condition that the device provides the animal with proper ventilation. Those who violate the law could face fines of between NT$30,000 (US$1,000) and NT$150,000.

COA emphasized that enforcement of the Animal Protection Act is the responsibility of local governments and has asked the animal protection authorities of cities and counties to strengthen the inspection and control of aggressive dogs. The council stressed that education and proper management of pets should be improved for current owners of registered pit bulls.

The Taipei City Animal Protection Office urges the public to report cases of aggressive dogs in public without a muzzle or leash by calling the "1999 citizen hotline" or the animal protection hotline: 02-8789-3064 or 02-8789-3065.