Those who consume these animals or sell them for meat could now face serious jail time.
Photo via Flickr user localpups
In Taiwan, it is believed by many that eating dog meat (a.k.a. "fragrant meat") will increase body temperature and blood circulation during the winter months.
But those relying on these supposed health benefits will now have have to find them elsewhere in their diets, as the island nation becomes the first in Asia to completely ban the sale and consumption of dog and cat meat. Taiwan has imposed fines on sellers of dog meat in the past, though these were reportedly not rigidly enforced.
According to the China Post, this most recent amendment to Taiwan's Animal Protection Act will also impose two years of prison time for those who kill and torture animals, and fines will range from NT$50,000 to NT$2 million (USD $1,635 to $65,000) for the sale, purchase, or consumption of dog or cat meat. Repeat offenders would be looking at fines in excess of USD $160,000 and five years in prison.
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The harsh law is said to be part of a "rising awareness" of animal welfare in the region and opposition to animal cruelty, issues of which overlap significantly with dietary practices in Taiwan.
Last year, Taiwan's Minister of Defense was forced to publicly apologize for a video that went viral showing nine military personnel beating, strangling, and throwing a dog into the ocean, as one of them says, "Little White, don't be a stupid dog in your next life." The video sparked public outrage and is seen as having raised public support for tougher animal rights laws.
Meanwhile, dog meat continues to be touted as a "superfood" in North Korea, the dog meat trade remains legal in South Korea, and an estimated 10,000 dogs are killed and eaten every year during the Yulin Dog Meat Festival in mainland China. But this reform of law in Taiwan sends a "strong signal" and to the rest of the region that opposition toward these practices is only growing.
On a lighter note, the amendment will also make it illegal to walk your dog while driving a scooter, which sounds like a really terrible idea to begin with.