SEOUL, Jul. 16 (Korea Bizwire) — The nearing summer holiday season brings joy to many, but for household pets, the extended holidays are fraught with danger as the number of abandoned pets rises sharply around this time of year.
According to “Paw in Hand,” an app and website that tracks abandoned animals in real-time, the number of abandoned animals currently housed in the nation’s animal shelters totaled 3,336 between July 3 and 10.
Of these, 332 animals were returned to their owners, 301 animals died of natural causes in a shelter, 29 animals were adopted into new homes and 21 animals were administered euthanasia.
The number of animals receiving care in animal shelters was 1,669 from June 13 to 23 before jumping to 2,480 from June 23 to July 3.
The number rose sharply, doubling in just 20 days. Considering the fact that pets abandoned by their owners usually end up in animal shelters, this means the number of household pets that were abandoned increased greatly in just a matter of days.
Meanwhile, the number of animals that were returned to their owners decreased from 513 to 477 in the same period. The number of animals adopted also dropped from 751 to 351.
The spike in the number of pets that end up homeless during the summer has become a yearly occurrence.
An official at the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said that the rescue, protection and medical treatment efforts of abandoned animals are a significant financial burden on society.
“It’s important for pet owners to take responsibility and to respect all forms of life,” said the official, who pleaded with the public to exercise discretion when adopting new pets.
Critics say that the mere slap on the wrist that comes with abandoning pets is contributing to the problem. According to relevant laws, pet owners who abandon their animals must pay a fee of 3 million won.
But because the law merely defines the penalty as an administrative fee rather than a fine resulting from criminal activity, many are saying the measure is not enough to discourage the practice of abandoning pets even after the penalty was tripled in March from the previous 1 million won following the implementation of new regulations.
In addition, experts say there is a lack of personnel who can efficiently administer the policy.
Government officials at local jurisdictions do not have an independent team overlooking the matter, and most animal welfare divisions take on other work besides ensuring pets are not abandoned by their owners.
H. S. Seo (firstname.lastname@example.org)