I met several foreigners that often adopt pet in Taiwan when they plan to stay here for a long time. It very much fill a gap in the house and make it more alive, so you do not feel that lonely thousands of kilometers away from home. Since I have 2 large dogs, I will mainly talk about dogs, but I hope someone jump in and comment on other pets in the future.
Adopting a dog is not difficult in Taiwan. There are few ways to do it. You can buy a puppy in the pet shop or some night markets, where the price will wary depending on the popularity of the puppy. There was a time when Labradors were very popular in Taiwan due to a movie, but after that people found out that keeping a large dog in the city is not that convenient, and price started to drop drastically. I got my Lab with a cage and few basic necessities for NT8000, but prices can vary between couple thousands to even 30000-40000 NT and more per pup. The second way is to adopt a stray animal - this is how I got my second Lab. There was a posting on yahoo saying that someone found a Lab on the street and looking for a good heart to adopt it. It doesn't cost you anything - you are doing a great deed - saving animal life is very rewarding. Third way of adopting an animal (also free or for minimal fee if pet need to get some shots, or tracking device) is to go to pet adoption. Two things to notice here: those pet adoption centers are underfunded so it might not be clean place as you see in your country - they do their best to give pets medicine, food and shelter. If you have some extra cash, please donate or adopt more than one pet. Secondly - if you choose your pet - it will be very hyper at first - so it is recommended to either run with it or take it for a long walk so pet can release all the energy from staying in a cage for extended period of time.
|Adopting from the shelter is free and easy.|
Big question is, how much it takes to actually care for a dog? Well, some crazy Taiwanese talk shows always say 'more than NT10,000' a month which is actually a completely BS. Yeah, maybe if you bring your pet to a beauty salon every 3 days to do pet nails and feed them most expensive food. I spend on average about NT2000 on my 2 large Lab a month, which includes healthy portion of food (they are a little overweight,) some new toys from time to time, snacks, shots and stay in the hotel when I am traveling.
Below I break it up for you to understand what kind of costs you are going to face when adopting a dog. It will be genetic cost, meaning I take into account that small dogs and large dogs have same expenses. Remember though, large dogs usually cost more to take care than smaller dogs.
What you want to do here is a healthy mixture of dry food and can food. You can also cook for your dog, just make sure it is not too oily, you do not use salt, onion, grape or chocolate.
I get 18kg dry food bag in COSCO for NT870, which last for about 3 weeks for 2 large Lab.
In supermarket as well as pet shop, dry food goes for 200NT (small bag 3kg or so) to 1000 NT (medium bag) and up, if your dog have special medical condition.
A can food (400g) costs NT20 for noname brand (smell like fish to me, I wonder if they actually put dolphins meat in there) to NT45 per can for Pedigree. Also, there is Oscar brand, if you have small dog, which tends to be roughly 30NT per can.
Every supermarket have a section where you can get snacks for dogs. They are really expensive here in Taiwan (for example, pedigree sticks are 6 times more expensive than in Europe (!!)) so I usually either order large quantities, or get in Cosco bones for dogs to chew and some non-salty crackers as a treat. If you have a small dog, it is not that expensive, since a small bag of treats can last for long time, but with two large dogs - I feel when I give them a bite, they don't even taste it :).
A bag of treats usually go for NT100-NT200 for about 2 weeks of treats (small dog.)
A bone costs NT30 to NT200 depending on the size (I get 2 largest bones for special occasion, such as Christmas, but meh, again, 2 large dogs, 2 bones are gone within 20 minutes.)
I like to also mention that sometimes they are nice discounts in the pet shops - you buy one bag of treats and get another free of charge. When it happen, I pretty much stock up for a longer period.
3. Toys and clothing
Oh yeah, part of the budget that I put on dogs to their toys. They are cute, and half of them are annoying (why dogs love the loud toys is beyond me though.) I still buy new toys few times a year, even though one of my dog will play anything that I throw to her, while another just go after my shoes.
|Example of what I will not dress my dogs.|
Toys are cheap, like really cheap. Anything between 30NT to 150NT will last for years (if of course is not lost by your pup.) Don't spend too much on those fancy expensive toys that cost 300NT and more - like auto moving ball and stuff. Dogs are afraid of those :).
Clothing is another consideration. Before I ever adopted a pet, I always thought people are crazy when they dress up their pets. I've completely changed my mind after having two of them. When go to the sea, you want your pet to wear goggles so the salty water don't hit their eyes, when it is too heat you want them to wear shoes to protect their feet (Taiwan ground is very hot during summer) and when it is raining or even typhoon weather, you want them to wear raining coat so their skin is healthy.
Clothing depends on the size of the dog. Small one pays much less than large ones.
Shoes can go from 200NT a pair (no idea why they sail in pairs, and not in 4 pieces) to 800NT a pair (large dog)
Raining coat from 300NT to 700NT
Clothing (I don't dress up my dog if there is no need as mentioned above): anything goes, from 200 to 2000NT
4. Medical costs
Medical costs in Taiwan are really cheap if you compare them to Europe or USA. Cost are for the visit and medicine given to the dog in the clinic as well as medicine given to give your pet while at home:
A yearly shot costs only NT100.
Ear infection and similar type of problem: 200-300NT
Major surgery: Around 10000NT (which would cost you tens of thousands in USA)
5. Dog care and hotels
From time to time, your pet need to get a haircut, a good solid wash, and place to stay when you are away from home. Again, the small dogs expenses here are much lower than large dog, so keep it in mind when you are adopting your first pet here in Taiwan.
Hair cut and wash: 500-1200NT
Hotel with food and air condition during summer: 500NT-1800NT (1800 NT is per dog in the House Dog in Neihu - largest rip off I've ever heard.)
Now, before moving forward, let me mention the place I leave my pets when I am away. It is in the dog clinic in Shihjih (Xizhi for those that use pying) and the vet charges me only for a room - not how many dogs I put in there. I pay 500NT per night for 2 Labradors, and that include food, and care. Also, vet really cares about animals, so if they have free time they will actually wash them or even cut their hair free of charge - a very nice surprise.
You can search for New-North Animal Hospital in Shihjih, owned by Dr. Lin Alex. DVM. MS - it is the cheapest place to hotel your pets, and quality is also very high (rooms are large, with AC or fan if needed.)
Here is the address: New Taipei City, Shihjih District, Da Tong Road Section 2, number 2, tel: 2648-7669
or in pying: Xizhi Qu, Da Tong Lu Liang Duan Si bai Er-Shi Hao
If your price is too high, just mention them that "a foreigner who owns Diva and Aida recommended this place for me" and try to bargain the price. I pay 500NT per night for a room.
5. What if I move out from Taiwan?
Well, surprisingly, bringing a pet to Taiwan is very difficult - this is an Island and they want to keep diseases that pets carry outside - you would spend a lot of money to simply do checks and put your pet in quarantine for some time till you get a permission to bring the pet to Taiwan. That being said, it will be much much easier to bring your pet back to your country, even if it was adopted in Taiwan.
My friend who lives in USA recently went back to USA and brought with him a small dog. The paper work and quarantine was easy, and actually he did not have to pay extra for the airline tickets, only 'extra baggage' charge that is about USD55. Dog need a special cage and early reservation with airlines to confirm everything. For larger pet, things get more difficult. The extra baggage fee is usually for additional 12KG, so if your pet weights more than that, you will pay more, sometimes much more, up to the cost of additional ticket. Just check with your airlines to make sure.
In concluding this short article, which will be updated from time to time, I just want to mention that adopting pet is one of the best thing you might do if you can give them a proper care. Not only you will feel better for doing a good deed, but you will gain new family members that will bring you tons of happiness, and it will help you to meet bunch of locals who also own pets.
EDIT: [Dec 7, 2012] Agnieszka in the comments below mentioned 2 great sites that you can visit and adopt pets directly from others, either because new puppies were born, someone is moving out, or due to allergy reasons. These pets are usually very well taken care of and just need a new home: