Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen posed with her cats while campaigning for the presidency in 2016. Taiwan became Asia's first country to ban the human consumption of dog and cat meat on Tuesday, part of a sweeping animal protection law. Photo courtesy of Wikipedia
April 12 (UPI) -- Taiwan is Asia's first country to pass a law outlawing the human consumption of dog and cat meat.
An amendment to an animal protection law, passed Tuesday by the Legislative Yuan, indicates a changing attitude in Taiwan from "a society in which dog meat was regularly consumed, to one in which many people treat pet cats and dogs as valued members of their families," the state-run Central News Agency reported.
More and more, dogs and cats are seen as pets; Taiwan President Tsai Ing-wen frequently posed with her two cats during her 2016 presidential campaign, and she has adopted three dogs since her election.
Dog meat is consumed in many parts of Asia as a delicacy. Cat meat is less frequently eaten, and some municipal ordinances in Taiwan outlaw their consumption. Passage of the landmark law Tuesday was the first national legislation against the practice.
Recent cases of animal abuse reported in Taiwan also spurred calls for reform in animal protection laws.
"Taiwan's progressive ban is part of a growing trend across Asia to end the brutal dog meat trade...Taiwan also sends a strong signal to countries such as China and South Korea ,where the dog meat trade remains," commented Wendy Higgins of the animal protection organization Humane Society International.
The law also includes penalties for animal torture, including the walking of an animal on a leash while traveling on a motor scooter or similar vehicle. Those eating dog or cat meat in Taiwan can now be fined up to $8,200, and those convicted of intentionally harming or torturing animals can face two years in jail and a $65,000 fine.