In early 2017, Taiwan enacted a new law banning the killing of stray animals. The issue was first put in the spotlight in 2016 after a vet working in an animal shelter committed suicide. Prior to her suicide, she had put down more than 700 dogs at the shelter. In her suicide letter, she said, “I hope my departure will let all of you know stray animals are also life. I hope the government knows the importance of controlling the source of the problem.”
Those who oppose killing stray animals argue that it is simply inhumane. Killing innocent animals is just not right. We ought to help these animals and find them good homes, not murder them. And as the above story shows, those who must go through with the killing can suffer from guilt, depression, or ever worse.
However, there are also strong arguments for putting stray animals down. Animal shelters could become more and more crowded and unable to take in more animals, which mean more would be left on the streets. What’s more, people might feel less guilty about abandoning their pets if they know they won’t be put down. So we could actually see an increase in strays. Many animal welfare groups actually support continuing to put animals down for these reasons.
The bottom line is that what we really need to do is address the source of the problem. Why are so many people abandoning their pets? Taiwan needs to encourage people to adopt more pets, and to think harder before they decide to get one.