The British Godmother of Stray Cats and Dogs In Taiwan
Reporter: Ho Yi
Caption: Liza affectionately introduces the Huskie off to build a new life in Canada
Right after entering the office, the pack starts, one after another to bark a welcome. If it’s not the dog paralysed from the waist down, then it’s the deaf and blind old dog in the office as we are welcomed by the brown haired, maroon eyed foreigner Liza. What’s captivating about Liza is not her Western face, but her lucid, bright eyes whenever she looks at each of the dogs. This is the star of our visit – Liza, President of the Taiwan Animal Association, ‘Animals Taiwan’.
Animals Taiwan was set up with the goal of providing a better environment for stray dogs in Taiwan and promoting and operating TNR/CNR by way of promoting adoption rather than purchasing, teaching owners the importance of neutering and other similar policies. Liza explained that since she is a foreigner, the focus is often on her, but she emphasised that getting things done, is absolutely not just down to her own efforts, but should be attributed to strong co-operation between the whole team.
Liza, who originally came to Taiwan since her father was doing business here, started off as an English teacher. Ultimately, due to recognising the seriousness of the stray dog problem in Taiwan, she started to save the innocent souls on the streets, and became a volunteer at Animals Taiwan.
This lover of stray animals even cares for 10 dogs and 5 cats in her own home!
Aside from caring at home, she even actively takes care of the stray animals and their ‘loving mothers’ in her neighbourhood (lit. outside her home).Liza, who lives in Shenkeng, and the local ‘loving mothers’ communicate, co-operate, arrange the castration of the stray animals on the mountain, and often go together to feed the neutered stray cats and dogs living on the mountain. She has also taught them to use metal bowls, and clean up after their giving, so as not to spoil the environment and give the neighbours cause to complain.
On the attitude of her mother country, the UK, towards animal projection, she admits: “To be honest, the British close their eyes [to the problem]”.
Perhaps they will take a dog they have found to the RSPCA, and think that the people at the association with help find it an adoptive home and so on. However, the RSPCA also practices euthanasia, and it’s often only the young dogs which are lucky enough to find a home which survive. People in Taiwan are better at facing the problem in front of their eyes.
As regards the serious stray dog problem in Taiwan, Liza has proposed to the government a number of times that they should offer incentives for neutering: those who actively decide on neutering should receive a free ID chip implant, and those that don’t should pay more for the ID chip, in order to allow people to freely decide on the issue of neutering, but through offering benefits, such as the ‘VIP 8 Free Services’ offered in Taipei City.
Aside from the issue of neutering, Liza also believes that pet stores should not be allowed to sell pets, instead allowing the trade to return to its beginnings, involving breeders. This will reduce the numbers of genetically-deficient dogs purchased, and the likelihood of abandonment. In addition, the authorities could more easily manage breeders’ operating environments and allow the latter to monitor each other.
Liza reckons that the two major difficulties currently facing the association are finding a new home for both the dogs and for the shelter itself. The association has leased its current location until October next year. Although it is actively looking for land and raising funds, it has experienced a few setbacks which have forced the association to start over again and look for a new location.
The dogs at the shelter all have their own [sad] story (of being stray), and even though some of them have been at the shelter for 5 or 6 years, the shelter has never given up on trying to find them a happy home. Through events, taking beautiful pictures of them and recording their life stories, the association wants to let more people know about these cute and yet resilient dogs.
Although the association is not in the media spotlight, and relies mostly on Facebook shares to get the information out there, Liza says, “It’s like the child in the fairy tales, who finds a starfish and throws it into the see. Although some people won’t be interested, even by saving one, you are changing a whole life.
And so this tall foreign woman lives by the traditional Chinese adage: No act of kindness, no matter how small, is ever wasted, and displays humility with it. It is impossible to not admire Liza, with her heart bursting with compassion and enthusiasm.