Taiwan is set to introduce a law banning animal euthanasia on February 4, months after the suicide of veterinarian Chien Chih-cheng who was overwhelmed by the growing number of animals she had to put down.
Under the new law, it will be illegal to euthanize abandoned animals, and those who wish to let their pets go to a shelter will be fined up to $125.
The increasing number of pets being abandoned in Taiwan has made the problems caused by stray animals more difficult to control.
In 2015, around 10,900 were put down, and over 8,600 shelter animals died in 2016 from other causes, such as illness, according to the BBC
Chien, who worked at an animal shelter for abandoned dogs in Taoyuan City, took her own life back in May, taking the same drug used to euthanize animals.
The Taoyuan shelter had one of the lowest rates of euthanasia and the number of strays being adopted has actually increased in recent years.
However, Chien left behind a letter that expressed concern for the welfare of the animals and how putting them down had taken a toll on her.
In the letter, she wrote: “I hope my departure will let all of you know stray animals are also life. I hope the government knows the importance of controlling the source [of the problem]… Please value life.”
Chien had appeared in a TV interview with local station CTI encouraging people to adopt, and she described how euthanizing stray dogs affected her.
“I went home and cried all night,” she said.
But Chien was heavily criticized and dubbed the “beautiful slaughterer” after revealing that she had put down 700 dogs in two years.
“They called her a butcher… We are frequently scolded. Some people say we’ll go to hell. They say we love to kill and are cruel,” said one of her coworkers, Kao Yu-jie.
“But people still abandon their dogs. You hear all kinds of reasons: their dog is too mean, or not mean enough, barks too much, or doesn’t bark enough.”
The Taiwanese government has pledged more funding for animal shelters and offer psychological counseling to staff members who have to euthanize animals.