New South Korean animal welfare regs

From ANIMAL PEOPLE,  July/August 2011:

SEOUL–The South Korean National Assembly on June 29,  2011 ratified into law the final draft of new national animal protection regulations proposed by the Ministry of Food,  Agriculture,  Forestry and Fisheries,  to take effect on January 1,  2012.

“Those who commit cruelty to animals may face a jail term of up to one year,  or a maximum fine of 10 million won ($9,400),” reported Lee Sun-young of the Korea Herald.  “Currently the heaviest penalty is a fine of five million won.”

The announcement came six days after the Korea Dog Farmers’ Association cancelled a dog meat festival which had been scheduled for July 1 at the Moran Traditional Market in Seongnam.  The next-to-last stop on the Seoul subway line,  the Moran Market has long been the largest dog meat market in South Korea.

“We couldn’t possibly go on with the plan,  due to endless phone calls of complaint.  Now there are few willing to rent us a place for the event,”  complained Chung Cheong University professor Ann Yong-Geun to Park Ji-Hwan of Agence France-Presse.   Ann Yong-Geun is a “nutritional advisor” to the Korea Dog Farmers’ Association.

Countered Park So-Youn,  founder of Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth,  “This is making our country an international laughing stock,  making the world mistakenly believe that all South Koreans eat dogs.”

The new South Korean law does not address eating dogs,  but Korea Herald reporter Lee Sun-young credited “the persistent controversy over eating dog meat” with helping to bring the law into effect,  along with two highly publicized cruelty cases in which a dog and a cat were beaten to death.  Though the perpetrators may not have intended to eat these animals,  and though beating animals to death was already illegal,  slow beatings were the traditional means of killing dogs  for human consumption.

Major provisions of the new law,  according to CARE spokesperson Ji Yun,  begin with recognition of the “Five freedoms” recognized in British animal welfare regulations since 1993.  These include freedom from thirst,  hunger and malnutrition; freedom from discomfort,  including adequate shelter and a comfortable resting area;  freedom from pain,  injury and disease;  freedom to express normal behavior;  and freedom from fear and distress.

“The central government shall establish and enforce a comprehensive animal welfare scheme every five years and local governments shall be willing to cooperate for the enforcement of the scheme,”  Ji Yun continued.  “Humane methods shall be employed for the transportation of animals.  Animal protection committees shall be set up in animal shelters over a certain size set by the ministry. Animal shelters shall employ humane euthanasia.  Animal testing shall be reviewed by ethics committees.”

In addition,  an accreditation procedure is to be established for farms that meet Ministry of Food,  Agriculture,  Forestry and Fisheries animal welfare standards.

Added Lee Sun-young,  “The revised law will compel dog owners to register their dogs with local governments from 2013.  The number of pets abandoned or lost on the street topped 100,000 last year, rising sharply from 25,000 in 2003,  the ministry said.”


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