I am 18 now. When I was 12 years old my parents were
hired as teachers for the Taipei American School. So we moved with our
two dogs, and my beloved horse, to hot, humid and gross Taiwan at the
beginning of my 7th grade year.
I went, I hated it, and wanted to go back. Shortly after
we moved I saw a dog in a pet shop window. I told my parents if they
bought her for me, I'd stop hating them for bringing me here.
In an act of desperation, they bought Lydia, but
unfortunately, I still hated them for bringing me here for quite awhile
Lydia was the beginning of my affair with Taiwan dogs.
She was the first inkling I had of the problems dogs have in Taiwan (at
6 months old, she had never been out of a cage and had no idea how to
walk.) She also had a horrible case of ringworm. All of this was so
startling as she had come from a prestigious breeder. (We paid over $400
The same year I moved to Taiwan, and soon after getting
Lydia, I began the Animal Rescue Club at my school, the Taipei American
School (TAS). It began so small, even to the point that myself and the
few other members went around to vets *asking* if they had any animals
needing to find homes. Slowly, one by one, and mistake and
accomplishment each taken one at a time, the Animal Rescue Club has
developed into the internationally known, and only Taiwan based, no
kill, not for profit animal rescue organization, the Taipei Abandoned
Animal Rescue Foundation (T-AARF).
It wasn't meant to grow into what it is now, which is
probably good -- had we started off with the scope that is there today,
things never would have gotten off the ground. Being young and foreign
in Taiwan, I was able to go around and "save" a few dogs here and there
in the beginning without much bother or problems.
The local people called me the crazy "mei-gwo" (white
person) but usually it was all in good jest, and if the vets wanted to
tease me, but still let me keep the dogs at their offices, it was
certainly worth it.
Unfortunately for the vets I have worked with, the "mei-gwo"
that they thought would drop out of this line of work soon after I
started 6 years ago, hasn't quite left the building yet!
My T-AARF shelter is in their back room at the Yang Ming
Veterinary Clinic in Taipei, Taiwan. We have dogs in 10 cages, which
comfortably holds about 15 small-med sized dogs. Our average capacity is
30 dogs, with several being med-large sized. 90% of our dogs go overseas
for homes, because homes in Taiwan are scarce, especially for adult,
larger, or mixed breed dogs.
Rescued dogs in general are considered bad luck, and so
aren't considered when a family in Taiwan is looking for a pet. A
majority of our dogs are disabled, abused, or older. We accept them all,
in every condition and with every problem. Sometimes it can be easier to
find a home for a dog with a problem than one without, but we take in
both cases, regardless.
We are completely no kill, except to euthanize in
situations where a dog has no quality of life, or a fatal or painful
condition that cannot be remedied. We deal with heartworm, tumors,
lesions, major skin problems and puppies on a daily basis. We have also
dealt with dogs that were paralyzed, have neurological problems, blind,
deaf, amputees, recovering from major medical problems, cancer and a
plethora of other things. All the dogs have been treated by our vet
thanks to his selfless donation of his time and services, and have been
shipped to homes overseas where they are living out their lives as
beloved members of families.
When we are at or (as usual) beyond capacity and people
bring us stray dogs we cannot place, they are neutered and released back
on the streets, and tagged with our name. We do this in case they are
picked up by the government, we can reclaim them, and they will not be
killed. There are several hundred dogs on the streets of Taipei that for
one reason or another would not have been possible to be adopted out
(mostly larger, streetwise, or feral dogs that live life in safe areas
on the streets), and have been neutered/spayed and tagged with our
clearance. These dogs will be able to live out their natural lives on
the streets, without being able to procreate.
I graduated from High School in June, and have since
moved back to Southern California for school (don't know where yet, but
eventually would like to go into veterinary medicine).
I now have 7 dogs, 4 of whom are Taiwan strays, that are
all coming home with me. In my move in June from Taipei to California, I
brought 27 dogs with me, all of whom were sent to homes, foster homes,
or preapproved shelters all over the United States where they have since
all found homes.
I've also rescued dogs in Thailand and Bali - the latter
was a tiny puppy who I brought to California five months later, the
former is Mai Thai, a paralyzed stray who has her own story on...
T-AARF is no kill, but we cannot save all the dogs in
Taiwan. We feel that it is "Better to save the few, than to do nothing
at all." But we do all we can to spread the idea both in Taiwan and
abroad that, to paraphrase FIDO NYC founder Bernadette Peters "there is
nothing wrong with stray dogs -- they are just homeless".
Even though I have moved back, I am now making
bi-monthly trips to Taipei, where I will rescue a certain amount of
Taiwan dogs, and bring them back to preapproved homes and shelters in
North America. Everything we do is funded solely by private donations,
and they are always desperately needed. We average donations of less
than $1000 a month, but it can cost us anywhere from $300-$1000 a dog to
complete their rescue, rehabilitation and transportation to their new
homes abroad. Without funds, we cannot continue our work.
Anyone interested in adopting a Taiwan dog, or finding
out more about our group is welcome to email me at [email protected],
or visit our website at
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