Take care of dogs during holiday: rights advocates

The Taiwan Alliance for Animal Rights Policy, legislators and specialists on Wednesday urged people to pay special attention to taking care of their pet dogs during the upcoming nine-day Lunar New Year holiday.
There are more than 1 million households with pets and more than 1.77 million pet dogs in Taiwan, but while many people already view their dogs as family members, society in general needs to improve its animal welfare practices, alliance executive director Ho Tsung-hsun told a news conference at the Legislative Yuan in Taipei.
The alliance invited specialists to provide advice on how to properly take care of dogs during the holiday.
First, the animals’ basic daily needs should be met, including going for a walk at least twice a day, playing with them, petting them affectionately, going on an occasional field trip, and providing adequate food and veterinary attention according to their size, age and health conditions, said Taipei City Councilor Simon Yang, who is a veterinarian.
The three most common ailments observed in dogs during the Lunar New Year holiday are gastroenteritis caused by owners overfeeding the animals with unhealthy food; fright from the sight and sound of fireworks; and frostbite from cold temperatures, in addition to exceptional cases, such as traffic accidents, Taiwan Veterinary Medical Association president Chen Pei-chung said.
There are 10 cities and counties that do not have 24-hour animal hospitals and some do not perform emergency operations, he said, urging owners to have medicine prepared in advance if their dogs have a chronic disease.
Dogs often become car sick from traveling with their owners to their hometowns, get overly excited from meeting too many of their owners’ friends and relatives, or suffer separation anxiety when their owners return to school or work after the holiday, a professional dog trainer who goes by the name Papa Bear said.
Chinese Nationalist Party (KMT) Legislator Alicia Wang urged the government to implement specialized regulations to ensure the safety and quality of pet hotels, as well as establish more public facilities for dogs to play and exercise in.
The government should set up basic standards for pet hotels, Democratic Progressive Party (DPP) Legislator Rosalia Wu said, adding that it should also designate pet-friendly spaces at freeway rest areas and specialized public transportation for passengers with pets.