Helen Davidson wrote a feature story for The Guardian of how dogs and cats seem to outnumber children in Taiwan. There, she talks about seeing a grandmother pushing a stroller with her senior Golden retriever in it, while a young woman walks past with another stroller in her hands, but she’s carrying a brindle-cross instead.
Dogs, and sometimes cats too, in prams is a common sight in Taiwan’s capital. The metro requires humans to put their animal companions in prams, but many believe it’s more than practicality and it reflects more on how the people change their perspective on pet ownership and rise of “fur babies.”
Taiwan’s birthrate is among the lowest in Asia. Analysts reported it’s because of delayed marriages as children out of marriage is still socially unacceptable along with economic barriers to having children. Meanwhile, pet ownership is skyrocketing in the country, with experts reporting in September that animal companions have overtaken the number of children aged under 15.
Although it seems like a good thing that many humans treat their companion animals as their own children, an expert hopes people do not overlook the needs of the animals.
“[The desire for items such as the strollers and clothes may stem from] an anthropocentric way of thinking about animals and treat them as accessories for himan fulfilment, rather than focusing on the animal’s needs,” says Wu Hung, the executive director of the Environment and Animal Society of Taiwan (East). “This can lead to serious welfare problems when the best interests of the animal are overlooked.”
She adds that although it’s “heartening” to see the growing number of positive interactions between humans and animals, she encourages people to abandon the strollers once in a while and allow their dogs to walk, run, and exercise.