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Taiwan minister defends euthanizing over 150 smuggled cats

Minister recommends amending Smuggling Penalty Act to up consequences for criminals

Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung 

Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung  (CNA photo)

TAIPEI (Taiwan News) — Council of Agriculture Minister Chen Chi-chung (陳吉仲) on Sunday (Aug. 22) defended euthanizing over 150 smuggled cats as a necessary evil.

A total of 154 smuggled cats nabbed by the Coast Guard on Thursday were euthanized by the Bureau of Animal and Plant Health Inspection and Quarantine (BAPHIQ) the following day, causing controversy about the authority's handling of the matter.

Chen took to Facebook Saturday night to say the BAPHIQ vets who administered the euthanasia did so with a heavy heart and that it was done out of a necessity to protect the nation’s people, animals, ecology, and industry.

Chen noted that all warm-blooded animals, including cats, are possible carriers of rabies, which to this day still has a mortality rate of roughly 100%.

It’s also highly possible that imported animals and plants from unknown sources could impact the local biology, the minister said, adding that if handled improperly, heavy losses to people’s health, domestic pets, wild animals, and livestock would be possible.

After noting that the incident had caused much discussion and criticism, the minister said that as the relevant authority, he was prepared to shoulder the blame.

The people who smuggled the cats should receive the severest punishment, he said: “We will suspend the licenses of the fishing boat and the captain involved in the smuggling and expel all people involved from the fishing industry.”

He also recommended amending the Smuggling Penalty Act to increase criminal liability for people who get caught smuggling plants or animals.