SEOUL, Nov. 21 (Korea Bizwire) – The rare occurrence of an earthquake on the Korean peninsula has driven some to reexamine the evacuation procedures in place for pet animals and find them wanting.
Under current policy, the government does not allow animals to enter disaster relief shelters. Instead, what it advises is for owners to either find an animal care center that can take care of their pets, or entrust them to friends or family who reside away from danger.
Besides instructions to provide one’s pet with water, food, a leash and muzzle, medication and a plastic bag for discarding waste, explicit instructions on evacuation procedures are not provided.
Owners have taken to social media and other online platforms to call for the adoption of policies laid out by foreign governments, among them the U.S.’s disaster relief plans by FEMA and the ASPCA, or the disaster response procedure crafted by the Japanese government.
Others have gone straight to the current administration’s website to log statements such as “please establish a disaster relief policy for pets” and “I sincerely wish disaster relief shelters can accept pets”.
There has been some backlash to the pet owners’ sentiments. One such comment on the Blue House website read, “Shouldn’t people be considered first? Right now, people cannot evacuate to better shelters because the overall quality of the facilities is poor. Fixing up the shelters for people properly first and then taking care of pet dogs seems to be the right course of action in my opinion.”
What is certain is that two record-breaking earthquakes barely more than a year apart have woken up the South Korean public to challenges they never imagined they would have to face. The Korean Animal Welfare Association said, “Until now, South Korea was never in danger of earthquakes and thus [the evacuation of pets] was not something we had thought about. The government needs to thoroughly consider creating shelters where pets can be with their masters.”