In order to realize respect for animals' lives and enhance the welfare of shelter animals, the Health Inspection Office has spent five years renovating the Houli Park branch of the city's animal shelter. The Houli branch shelter reopened its doors on April 4, which happened to be "World Stray Animals Day," and presented the city's furry children with an all-new "adoption relay station." Mayor Lu Shiow-Yen personally attended the opening ceremony held on that very meaningful day, and while celebrating the facility's opening, also reiterated the city's determination to promote animal welfare.
The Houli Park branch of Taichung City Animal Shelter was established in 2002. But although it had undergone several rounds of renovation in order to enhance animal welfare, the shelter's buildings and animal pens had gradually deteriorated, and were sadly outdated. Following the merger of Taichung city and county, Mayor Jason Hu indicated that the city would take active steps to improve animal shelters, and dispatched Health Inspection Office personnel to Britain to see the animal shelter facilities used in the advanced countries. This initiated a moment of opportunity to remake the city's animal shelters. Afterwards, the Health Inspection Office obtained NT$150 million in funding from the Council of Agriculture, Executive Yuan and an additional NT$60 million from the city for the improvement of the Houli Park branch shelter. Planning and design work was performed while Mayor Lin Chia-lung was at the helm. More recently, Mayor Lu Shiow-Yen gave the project her full support, including measures to improve nearby traffic and bring in more visitors. By using local spaces to draw sightseers, the city has made people more enthusiastic about visiting the shelter. After five years of work, the successful completion of this project and re-opening of the shelter marks the conclusion of an intergenerational development campaign and the realization of Taichung's vision of becoming an animal-friendly city. The design of the branch was formulated by Jiang Le-jing's architectural team, and contains the three core themes of "education & awareness," "adoption transit," and "sightseeing & leisure." This design also positions the branch as an "adoption relay station" where stray animals can prepare to re-enter human homes. The appearance of the shelter's buildings incorporates "yellow ribbon" imagery, and the looping curves symbolize openness and welcome. Inside the branch, dog and cat adoption transit areas are separated, with dogs in the north and cats in the south, and there is also an education extension center containing a lecture hall, conference room, audiovisual room, and training room. The facility's design enables complementarity between animal protection/life education and adoption promotion functions. The shady shelter area has pathways that lead to an adjacent environmental park; the presence of this scenic route incorporating existing local attractions is very appealing for exploration-minded visitors.
How to reduce the number of stray animals at the source and improve the welfare of animals in shelters have always been key issues in global efforts to improve the lot of stray animals. In order to redeem the reputation of animal shelters, which were long considered dirty, noisy, stinky places inducing nimby campaigns, and improve the sad image of shelter animals, the Health Inspection Office has transformed the Houli Park shelter branch into a new landmark combining architectural beauty with animal welfare. We hope that shelters will no longer be places for the final disposal of unwanted animals, and instead become places for sharing life education resources. Through the adoption of cats and dogs and animal protection education and activities, shelters can promote the spirit of animal welfare, encourage city residents to understand and practice respect for life, and create an atmosphere of coexistence among all living things.