New shelter & animal protection law in South Korea

From ANIMAL PEOPLE, June 2007:
BOEUN, Korea–Korean Animal Pro-tection Society founder
Sunnan Kum formally opened a new KAPS shelter on April 15, 2007,
seven years after a donation of $25,000 from actor Danny Seo helped
her to acquire the land.
“Back in 1986,” Sunnan Kum recalled, “I purchased land in
Daegu,” her home city, “for the purpose of taking care of abandoned
dogs and cats for the first time. I had expected then that there
would not be so many abandoned animals. I used to believe that
anyone who encountered helpless animals would take care of them with
“I know that I was so naive and foolish to have had that
belief,” she continued. “I found many cats and dogs suffering in
extreme starvation and thirst all over this country. Warm-hearted
people would often bring me such animals instead of selling them to a
market. In no time, my land was fully occupied by cats, dogs, and
even wild animals.”

The shelter expanded to fill Sunnan Kum’s home, and then
three floors of the building where she and her husband operate a
pharmacy. Still there was need. “I was drowning in unspeakable
shock and sorrow,” Sunnan Kum continued, “but I had to pull myself
together. I thought about what was wrong and what I should do from
then on. First,” she decided, “people need to be educated and
informed in order to cultivate the thought that every single life has
its own dignity. Second, we need to publicize the importance of
sterilization, to reduce the number of abandoned animals,” a cause
she furthered by opening a sterilization clinic. And, at the same
time,” she added, “we urgently needed a larger shelter.”
KAPS at the time ran the only shelter in South Korea. There
are now at least four nonprofit shelters offering alternatives to the
longtime practice of disposing of dogs and cats at meat markets.
KAPS formerly partnered with International Aid for Korean
Animals, of Oakland, California, founded by Sunnan Kum’s younger
sister Kyenan Kum. The partnership is no longer in effect, but IAKA
is also still highly active, now working to introduce South Koreans
to the provisions of a new national animal protection law.
Passed in January 2007, to take effect in January 2008, the
new law “includes tougher penalties for animal cruelty, as well as
stronger legislation to address stray and abandoned animals,” Kyenan
Kum said. The new law empowers local governments to appoint animal
protection officers, authorized to investigate cruelty and seize
abused animals.
“Thanks to the committed efforts of our supporters,” Kyenan
Kum added, “we stopped legislation to allow ‘hygienic control’ of
dog meat, and kept the definition of ‘pet animals’ from being
included,” which would have excluded dogs and cats sold for meat from
protection. “IAKA is very proud of these accomplishments,” Kyenan
Kum stipulated, “and would like to allow the Korean government time
to implement the new law before making plans for any further
aggressive protests.
“The old law,” Kyenan Kum noted, “specified that one could
not kill an animal without a rational reason. The new law specifies
that animals cannot be killed by hanging, be killed in an open area
or on a street, or be killed in front of other animals.”
“The use of animals in indiscriminate laboratory testing will
be prohibited,” Kyenan Kum said. “Extraction of fluids from animals
will be prohibited unless for the purposes of the animals’ health or
veterinary diagnostics,” a provision which if enforced would end
South Korean bear bile farming.
“Acts causing harm to animals for the purpose of gambling,
advertising, and entertainment will be prohibited. Persons
transporting animals will need to provide adequate food, avoid rough
driving, and use vehicles suitably equipped to prevent injury,”
Kyenan Kum finished.

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