Taiwan has become the first Asian country to completely ban the eating of dog and cat meat.
New laws passed on Tuesday outlaw ‘the consumption, purchase or possession of dog and cat meat’ with a maximum fine of 250,000 New Taiwan dollars ($8,000).
Legislator Wang Yu-min hailed the landmark bill, saying it is a first in Asia and ‘shows that Taiwan is a society with advanced animal welfare.’
Rein in cats and dogs: Taiwanese lawmakers have banned eating cats and dogs with offenders facing a maximum fine of 250,000 Taiwan dollars ($8,000)
Restaurants have also been banned from selling dog or cat meat, and penalties for those caught abusing or killing animals has also been increased
She noted that several local authorities had already taken steps to ban the meat, but added that national legislation was needed.
Hong Kong and China have banned the killing of dogs and cats for sale as meat, but have not specifically outlawed consumption.
The bill also hiked the punishment for those caught killing or abusing animals to a maximum of two years in jail and a fine of 2million Taiwan dollars ($65,000).
Repeated offenders will face a maximum of five years in jail and a fine of 5million ($163,000) Taiwan dollars, lawmakers said.
The bill also bans the practice of ‘walking’ animals by tying their leash to a vehicle and forcing them to run alongside.
Offenders can also be named and shamed under the new powers.
Campaigners had been calling for tougher sentences amid several high-profile abuse cases, including one in which three soldiers beat and strangled a stray dog to death (file image)
The move comes after a series of animal abuse cases shocked the public, including a video of three soldiers beating and strangling a stray dog to death.
The military was forced to apologise after graphic footage of the incident circulated on YouTube and prompted street protests.
In 2014, a male hippo famous for performing at a private zoo in central Taiwan died after breaking a leg and sustaining other injuries during transportation.
The death sparked more protests from animal rights campaigners.
Like some other Asian nations, dog consumption was common in Taiwan decades ago and although it is much rarer now, there have been reports of shops being caught selling dog meat in recent years.
The new laws mean Taiwan now has some of the most robust animal protection legislation anywhere in Asia.
President Tsai Ing-wen had presented herself as an animal-lover during her election campaign. She owns two cats and adopted three dogs.