International Journal of Humanities and Social Science

ISSN 2220-8488 (Print), 2221-0989 (Online) 10.30845/ijhss

Trans-species Care: Taiwan’s Feral Dogs and Dog Mother Activism
Dr. Chia-ju Chang

Feral dogs living on the streets in densely populated urban centers have been a serious social, environmental and animal rights problem for the local governments in many big cities outside of the Anglo-American world. Taiwan is no exception. The Taiwanese government, one that is indoctrinated in the ideology of modernity, has been campaigning to exterminate stray dogs instead of adopting other means of addressing the stray dog population. This campaign has proven to be ineffective. Stray dogs and cats are a symbol of the excesses of capitalism; they are direct victims of Taiwan’s capitalist economic and urban growth and the global pet industry. Several counter-voices along the lines of animal rights advocacy have emerged in response. The most silent animal advocate group is the so-called “dog mothers.” Dog mothers are animal caretakers comprised of women from all classes of Taiwanese society; they volunteer to rescue, shelter, and feed stray dogs and cats on the streets. The victimization and marginalization they share with the dogs they defend is worth exploring in the context of common assumptions about social transgression. In this paper, I explore the question why many Taiwanese feel uneasy about dog mothers, by reflecting on what both dog mothers and stray dogs mean to urban society as a whole. I argue that these dog mothers reveal an inconvenient truth about the contemporary urban consumerist social order that is androcentric. Their plight reflects the absence of an ecological-feminist discourse that sees animal issues and women’s issues as interlinked.

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