The law rewarding those who report dog owners for failing to leash their dogs is to be repealed.

For years, we have been demanding this of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) by holding demonstrations and debates in the National Assembly.

Other parts of the Animal Protection Act have been amended, and having been approved by the National Assembly’s legal committee on November 29th, they are waiting to be passed by the National Assembly itself.

The main point of the revised animal protection laws is the change to the penalty for animal cruelty, which has been raised from imprisonment of up to 2 years or a fine of up to 20 million KRW to imprisonment of up to 3 years or a fine of up to 30 million KRW.

In addition, there are the following:

  • Making it mandatory for ferocious dog owners to purchase insurance against possible accidents
  • Imposing a fine of 3 million KRW for abandoning pets (as opposed to a ticket for the same sum)
  • Making it mandatory for buyers of pets to be registered

When this revised set of laws is ratified, animal cruelty will be considered a more serious crime than damage to property, punishable by imprisonment of up to 3 years or a fine of up to 7 million KRW.

And instead of imposing a merely administrative fine—not leaving a criminal record—abandoning pets will be punishable by a legal fine.

There was also confusion under the old law as to where to report pet abandonment; the police or the regional authorities. This has led, in some cases, to some shirking of responsibility between the police and the regional authorities, and due to the shortage of personnel there was no practical way to punish pet abandonment.

However, after the revision, abandoning pets becomes an illegal act. This means that the police will soon have the responsibility to investigate. Hopefully it’s the beginning of a decrease in the rate of pet abandonment.

These changes are to be welcomed, since the following have been asserted by CARE all these years.

  • To raise the penalties for animal cruelty above those for property damage
  • To abolish the “petparazzi” reward act, because it violates human rights
  • To impose a legal fine on pet abandonment

There is still much more to be achieved, however. We still have far to go regarding the restriction of ownership and farming rights of animal cruelty perpetrators, the illegalization of pet slaughter, and the inclusion of mental cruelty in the scope of animal cruelty. Also, even with the raised penalties for some types of animal cruelty, the highest penalties will not actually be imposed by the judicial branch if it is does not have the awareness of animal rights. And finally, there is virtually no law to protect animals used industrially, such as farm animals.

As always, of course, it is our goal to strive for a more mature and rational pet culture.

Image credit: hedgehog94/Getty Images

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