Animal shelters carry out services for animal spirits
As people around Taiwan were making offerings to wandering spirits on Ghost Festival day Friday, the New Taipei Animal Protection and Health Inspection Office and nine animal shelters in the city jointly held a Taoist religious service for wandering animal spirits.
A spokesman for the office said that by holding the service for animal spirits, it was hoped that the deceased animals might have better next lives and wander no more while the animals now staying at the shelters would be blessed with good health.
Many people in Taiwan still follow the customs of offering food, drinks and flowers and burning paper money to wandering ghosts and spirits on the 15th day of the seventh moon in lunar calendar, to please the dead and pray to keep illness and misfortune at bay.
The animal protection office also launched a web page for people to write messages in memory of their animal friends, giving people another way to remember their deceased pets on the festival.
Before the New Taipei government put in force a no-euthanasia policy on March 1, stray dogs and cats caught by the authorities and kept in animal shelters faced death unless they were adopted within a certain period because of overcrowding in the shelters.
The policy to treat animals better has actually paid dividends, New Taipei officials said, with the natural death rate of animals kept in the shelters at 9.91 percent this year, down from 20.34 percent during the same period a year ago.