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Suspected canine carcasses proving bone of contention

Source:2017-12-03 / Taipei Times / By Wu Hsin-tien and Lin Hsin-han / Staff reporters

HARD TO CRACK: Officials in Keelung sent samples of animal remains found there to NTU, but the school only identified the flesh and the bones are being analyzed

Specialists and government officials are working to determine whether large amounts of animal bones discovered in sacks abandoned by the roadside in Keelung last week are from dogs or pigs.

The Keelung Animal Protection and Health Inspection Office is offering a NT$100,000 (US$3,330) reward for information that leads to the arrest and conviction of the person who left more than 100 sacks of bones along the city’s Qian Industry Road, which were discovered on Thursday last week and are suspected to be the remains of dogs that were cooked and consumed.

Wu Sheng-hai (吳聲海), an assistant professor in National Chung Hsing University’s Department of Life Sciences, said that based on photographs of the jawbones and teeth that were released in the media, he thinks that the bones are from pigs, because dogs’ teeth look sharp from the side and are narrower.

“Just look at the teeth of your dog at home and you will understand,” he said, criticizing the office for its apparent inability to tell pigs from dogs.

Wu should not spread rumors after merely looking at photographs, office Director Chen Jui-pin (陳瑞濱) said, adding that the bones have been sent to the Ministry of Justice’s Investigation Bureau for examination and the results will be published in three weeks.

The Wild Animal Memorial Club, an online fanclub dedicated to wildlife protection, on Facebook criticized the office for offering a reward before identifying the bones.

Chen said the office on Thursday asked National Taiwan University and the Council of Agriculture’s (COA) Animal Health Research Institute to help identify the bones, but they only identified the flesh, not the bones, which were sent to the bureau for examination on Friday.

The sacks were full of maggots and emitted a horrible smell; they contained dog bones and the office is working with the police to solve the case, said Chen, who holds a master’s degree in veterinary medicine.

“Your words are unjust to the investigators that are working hard on the case,” Chen said, referring to Wu’s comments.

Even if only one dog bone is found in the sacks, that would constitute a violation of the Animal Protection Act (動物保護法), Chen said, adding that if the bones are from pigs, abandoning them by the road violated the Waste Disposal Act (廢棄物清理法) and the case would nonetheless be investigated.

COA Animal Protection section chief Jiang Wen-chuan (江文全) said he suggested that the office send the bones over for examination.

If the bones are confirmed to be from dogs, the offender could be sentenced to up to two years in prison and a fine of between NT$200,000 and NT$2 million.