"Lang Lang Don't Cry" Pet Halfway House & Café: Finding Their Forever Home
Many dogs and cats at Lang Lang Don't Cry are waiting for their new home.
Author Catherine Shih
Photographer Samil Kuo, Lang Lang Don't Cry
Not Your Typical Coffee Shop
Tucked away in a quiet lane off of Linsen North Road (林森北路) near Taipei Main Station (台北車站) lies an inconspicuous café, "Lang Lang Don't Cry (浪浪別哭) Pet Halfway House & Café." Although it looks like your typical coffee shop, another surprising service can also be found on the menu: finding a forever home for a stray dog or cat.
Founded in 2015 in Taipei, following two branches in Taichung (台中) and Tainan (台南), the shop acts as both a halfway house for these animals while also providing an ambient atmosphere. While enjoying a cup of Joe, patrons can play with the animals on-site and get a feel for their personality and whether they'd make a good fit.
"Our goal is to provide a convenient yet relaxing location for potential adopters to get to know the animals one-on-one," says Taipei branch shop manager Hong Shi-min (洪士�^).
"Most animal shelters are located outside of the city due to limited space and capacity, making it difficult to commute to for potential adopters, and thereby reducing the success rate of adoption," Hong tells us. "Here patrons can get to our coffee shop easily and spend a reasonable amount of money to meet the animals, increasing the rate and likelihood of adoption," he continues.
Aside from adopting, patrons can also help the organization by making any purchase at the shop. "Three percent of all of our proceeds actually goes to the 'TNVR Project,' which stands for 'Trap, Neuter, Vaccinate, and Return,'" Hong advises. The project is an effective and humane method to control and reduce the stray animal population, and is approved and accepted by worldwide animal protection organizations.
"Since no matter how high the rate of adoption is, the rate of stray animals remains high. It's important to build awareness in the community on the benefits of neutering and spaying so that we can solve this issue in the long term," Hong explains.
"At our Taipei branch, we currently have one adult dog, three puppies, and 10 cats," he goes on. "Any time one animal gets adopted, we can take in one more of that particular animal. And the fact that we offer both cats and dogs up for adoption is what sets us apart from others. Most of the halfway houses we've seen are for cats only."
When asked about restrictions in taking in stray animals, Hong informs us, "For dogs, we differentiate based on size instead of age, since some dogs are actually quite large but young in age. For cats, it's a bit easier. We don't have any requirements on their size or age."
In addition to serving as an approachable location in the city to raise the adoption rate, Lang Lang Don't Cry also educates and trains the animals they take in. "Cats are generally easier to train since most of them inherently know how to use the litter box already," Hong says. "For dogs, on the other hand, it's generally a bit harder since we need to make sure they are domesticated to some level."
For example, some basic requirements are making sure they know their name and are responsive to it. Other more advanced training includes things like stopping them from barking too much, taking them on walks, or making sure they don't attack other animals or
humans. "Some adult dogs can be difficult to train due to their upbringing or previous environment. Sadly, many of them have been living in the wild for a long time, or worse, maltreated by their previous owner," Hong notes. "Therefore, it's really important that we offer some training so they can acclimatize to their new home more quickly and easily."
Challenges & Struggles of a Pet Halfway House
On the topic of animal shelters, Hong chuckles, "Many people don't realize that the reason most shelters are situated far away from the city is due to the noise level of the animals." However, he laments, "This has also been one of our biggest issues with setting up a halfway house in the city. Sometimes neighbors will complain about the barking and noise level, and have even gone so far as to call the police on us. So, often we have to take the dogs back home with us at the end of the day, and then bring them back the next day." He goes on to add, "Luckily, our current situation with the animals we have now is pretty calm. And at the same time, we're still running a full-on café, so there's a delicate balance between taking care of the animals while still providing a relaxing atmosphere for patrons to enjoy coffee and such."
Process of Adoption
According to Taipei City Animal Protection Office (台北市動物保護處), people who are interested in taking animals back home will first meet their furry friends and submit a paper application. Then the animals will be checked and vaccinated by a vet before joining their new family. The process in Lang Lang Don't Cry follows a similar order.
Hong further notes some requirements such as that the adopter must be over 25 years of age and with a stable income. He says, "More importantly, they have to be willing to meet the animal in person for them to see if they are truly a good fit. It's not enough to just see pictures of the cat or dog online!"
"Once they are determined to be a good fit, we will schedule an in-person visit to their home and meet all the family members living in that household to make sure that they all agree with the adopting decision," Hong goes on. He recalls several situations where a family member wasn't aware of the situation and didn't agree to the adoption. "The next thing we know, the animal is back in our hands," he says. "We want to minimize the risk of these animals getting sent back to us as much as possible."
Hong also adds, "When we screen potential adopters, we are also getting to know their values and ideas about raising these animals. For example, if all the physical requirements are met but the adopter believes in chaining up his or her dog, or only allowing them to sleep outside on the balcony — none of these would be acceptable for us. It takes more than just providing a suitable environment for these pets."
So far to date, Lang Lang Don't Cry has found a home for over 1,000 dogs and cats. "Each adopter receives a ton of support as well, including an individualized online chatroom for us to keep each other updated about the animal and any issues that may arise. We're here to help facilitate the adoption process and make it as smooth as possible in any way," Hong says proudly.
Most of the animals at Lang Lang Don't Cry come from stray animal rescuers who cooperate with them. This group of caring people sometimes also help to process international adoptions for foreigners who hope to adopt dogs and cats from Taiwan. However, since the process is even more complicated, Lang Lang Don't Cry currently only focuses on domestic adoptions.
"Besides adoption, volunteering at local shelters is also great. There has been a 'No-kill' policy in place, in which the government prohibits euthanasia for stray animals. Normally, we would think that this is helping the animals, but in reality, it is creating a massive burden and strain on the shelters and its workers," Hong indicates.
The Taipei City Animal Protection Office is recruiting volunteers and providing training courses for the candidates who wish to help take care of the dogs and cats at local animal shelters. Even if you don't take them home, there are still many ways to enhance the wellbeing of stray animals.
Moving Towards to a Pet-Friendly City
"Taipei has the potential to be a pet-friendly haven for most animals," Hong shares with us, providing a few insights. "For example, Yingfeng Dog Run Area (迎風狗運動公園) in Songshan (松山) near the river is the best pet-friendly place in the city. It's ample enough for animals to run around and has some great facilities for dogs to jump and play, too." He also notes that there are places for people to sit and relax, which enables both animals and their owners to chill and have fun. Another essential factor is that the place has been well maintained. As dogs can be quite destructive sometimes, it is important to keep everything in good shape.
In addition, Lang Lang Don't Cry has been working with schools in Taipei on the topic of life education. "Adopt, Don't Shop!" is the core idea they are promoting. They also want to highlight that despite their different breeds, all dogs and cats are equal, since the intention to keep an animal of a certain breed is the major reason for buying them. In Lang Lang Don't Cry, most animals are mixed-breeds, which are usually healthier and easier to take care of.
"We always encourage owners to consider adoption first and foremost before buying," Hong points out. "All of us can do our part in helping these animals find their forever, lasting home."