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[TAIPEI] Taiwan has banned the eating of dogs and cats, lawmakers said on Wednesday. as pressure grows to improve animal welfare after a spate of cruelty cases that stirred public outrage.
Parliament passed legislation to outlaw the consumption, purchase or possession of dog and cat meat, with offenders facing a fine of up to NT$250,000 (S$11,450).
The bill also hiked the penalty for killing or abusing animals to a maximum two-year jail term and a stiff fine of NT$2 million, more than doubling that for repeat offenders.
"This shows that Taiwan is a society with advanced animal welfare," said lawmaker Wang Yu-min who proposed the amendment.
Like some other Asian nations, dog consumption was common in Taiwan decades ago and although it is much rarer now, there have been sporadic reports of shops being caught selling dog meat in recent years.
As well, a string of much-publicised animal abuse cases triggered deep public concern, and demands for tougher protection laws.
Last year, the military was forced to apologise after a video surfaced of three soldiers torturing and strangling a stray dog to death with an iron chain, prompting several street protests.
And in 2014, a male hippo famous for regularly performing at a private zoo in central Taiwan died after breaking a leg and sustaining other injuries during transportation, sparking a public outcry.