Animal Life in Taipei

Today as I was walking to the bank with my office manager Sharon to open an account, she suddenly stopped just before the bank and said. “Oh, look at that cat, it’s got blood on it’s paw.” There, slumped up again a stone pillar was an orange and brown housecat and as she said it the cat started to move. Once it started to move, I knew that it’s paw was the least of the animal’s worries. “It’s been hit by a car or moped and dragged itself off the road to here,” I told her as the animal wobbly tried to move under the fleet of mopeds parked on the sidewalk. “It’s going to die soon.” She expressed her horror at seeing it, and we moved on to do our business.

Now, in reading this you might think we were callous for not helping the cat; maybe we should have called the local humane society or tried to get it to a vet. But, the truth is this isn’t the first time I’ve had such a sight since I’ve been here in Taipei. Taipei is a very crowded and busy city filled with fast-moving cars, incredibly aggressive cab drivers and hundreds of thousands of moped drivers who zip around everywhere. Into this, put an explosively huge dog and cat population unhindered by climate and largely free to roam the city and you’re making a recipe for disaster.

When I first came here I was horrified at seeing dogs wandering loose in this busy environment, then I was more relaxed when I realized many of the dogs around me were actually very car-savy. They would wait at crosswalks, and most of them crossed the roads with humans rather than do it alone, knowing there was safety that way. I was actually very impressed by how smart they were, that was until I got to see a dog that wandered onto the road ahead of us one night get hit not once by twice as it staggered away and wandered into the other direction of traffic.. (Well, I couldn’t watch the second time when I knew what was coming and could do nothing to stop it as I was in a car several cars back.) That’s when it occured to me that the reason I saw so many smart dogs was all the stupid ones were long dead. (And, the other living dogs are a tribute to the skill of Taipei’s drivers.)

There are a lot of wild and stray dogs in Taipei, since many owners let their animals wander or abandon them when they get too troublesome, and a lot of tamed ones too. The easiest way to tell the difference is grooming (of course pets are better groomed) and the second easiest way is the pets are wearing clothes. Whoever thought of doggie t-shirts should be making a mint in Taipei, because there are a lot of dogs here wearing them. I guess it’s a way to let people know your dog isn’t just some stray. Mostly, the dogs ignore the people, and the people ignoore the dogs and life goes on.

I hope all dogs go to heaven, because after this they deserve it.