SEOUL, June 29 (Korea Bizwire) – As more and more pet owners are starting to treat their pets on their own due to expensive medical fees charged by veterinarians, they may soon face legal punishment if the Veterinarians Act is amended by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA).
A recent petition started by animal rights advocates hoping to ban puppy mills in Korea, sparked by a report from the SBS TV show ‘Animal Farm’ on dog breeders who mistreated 300 female dogs with illegal drugs and forced them into pregnancy, is triggering a movement towards prohibiting unlicensed personnel from conducting medical procedures on animals.
Veterinarians and organizations that support banning unlicensed individuals from giving animals medical treatment argue that unhealthy animals must be taken to a proper medical practitioner just like humans. They emphasize that there are frequent incidences of pet owners without extensive medical knowledge harming their companions by attempting to treat them at home.
The current Veterinarians Act in Korea forbids unlicensed personnel from providing medical treatment to animals, yet there is an exceptional clause that allows breeders to perform medical treatment on animals they breed, which is also why there are instructions and cautions for animal medical procedures readily available on the Internet.
Arguments from the other side of the dispute center on the high medical expenses that many pet owners have to bear.
A typical office visit for ear mites costs 70,000 won, but over the counter ear mite treatment cream only costs 12,000 won from an animal pharmacy. Heartworm prevention medication, which dogs must take for their entire lifetime, is sold for 9,000 won at most veterinary clinics, but only costs 2,500 won at large animal pharmacies.
Some have even launched an online petition to stop the law revision, insisting that it will only benefit veterinarians, who are free to set their own rates without any established standards or guidelines.
“Prohibiting self-treatment basically means that those who cannot afford professional medical treatment shouldn’t have pets. The puppy mill incident should be handled by revising the Animal Protection Law, not the Veterinarians Act,” said Choi Jung-ah, president of the Korea Animal Protection Society.
Some animal rights activists point out that if veterinarians are to benefit financially from the law revision, they must make an effort to assume social responsibility.
“Forbidding imprudent self-treatment is fundamentally the right thing to do. As we can easily purchase over-the-counter medicine for a common cold, all parties involved in making the final decision must consider to what extent they will define self-treatment,” said an animal rights activist.
“Basic self-treatment for cats and dogs will still be allowed. We’re in the process of collecting opinions from organizations in other countries since no internal policy has been set,” said an official from MAFRA.
By Nonnie Kim (email@example.com)