Taiwan has become the first country in Asia to pass legislation banning the consumption of cats and dogs. In a sweeping amendment to animal protection laws, the sale, purchase, and possession of dog or cat carcasses was also banned.
The move follows the country's capital Taipei, which has already banned the sale of dog meat. But activists found evidence to suggest that this local law was largely being ignored and offenders left unprosecuted.
According to the China Post, anyone found guilty of eating cat or dog meat will face a fine of between NT$50,000 ($1,600) and NT$250,000 ($8,000). Repeat offenders could also face public shaming, along with fines of up to NT$5m ($160,000).
The amendment's sponsor, Kuomintang Legislator Wang Yu-min, said that several other amendments were passed to help make the country more animal friendly. Those who intentionally harm animals could face a maximum of two years imprisonment and fines of up to NT$2m ($64,000).
Pet owners also face fines if they make their leashed dogs run alongside their scooters. And those that ‘walk’ animals from inside a motor vehicle face fines up to NT$15,000 ($500).
The amendments still need to be signed by the Cabinet and Presidential Office to take effect, but this is expected to happen before the end of the month.
The amendments follow several high profile cases of animal cruelty that shocked people across the nation. Last year, a group of Taiwanese marines viciously beat a dog, before hanging it and throwing the body into the ocean. An investigation and public protests took place after a video of the beating went viral.
And last October, a student from Macau studying in Taiwan, was given 10 months in prison after being convicted of killing two stray cats.