SEOUL, March 22 (Korea Bizwire) — A revision to the Animal Protection Act that toughens punishment for perpetrators of animal cruelty and pet owners who abandon their animals has gone into effect as scheduled starting today.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs will expand the scope of “animal cruelty” to include force-feeding animals food and drink, leaving them in extremely cold or hot conditions and arranging animal fights.
Those guilty of committing animal cruelty will going forward be punished with an enhanced sentence of a maximum prison term of 2 years and a fine up to 20 million won.
The fine levied for abandoning animals will be raised from its 1 million won ceiling to 3 million won.
Though South Korea has becoming increasingly pet-friendly as it enters the so-called “10 million pets era”, pet abandonment and animal cruelty continue to be problems that need to be resolved.
According to animal rights group CARE, the population of abandoned animals has been continually rising in the past four years, increasing by over 20,000 since 2014 to pass the 100,000 mark last year.
In addition, CARE revealed it had registered 763 reports of animal cruelty cases last year. It also received 114 calls regarding dog meat farms and slaughterhouses.
Pet animal farms will henceforth be banned from installing wire mesh floors for the animals’ living spaces, and one person per 75 dogs or cats must be employed at the business.
Each municipality will be required to carry out one inspection per pet store a year; unregistered and unlicensed businesses will be fined a maximum 5 million won.
Meanwhile, a controversial rule granting a financial reward for reporting dog owners whose pets are not wearing a leash in public was also set to be implemented today, but was put on hold indefinitely yesterday.
A spokesperson for the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said the rule, which had been pointed to as creating “dog paparazzi”, will be discussed and examined further due to its lack of public support.