SEOUL, Oct. 23 (Korea Bizwire) – Headlined by the recent death of an unidentified manager of the famous Han Il Kwan restaurant in Seoul, who passed away from blood poisoning six days after being bitten by a French Bulldog belonging to actor and K-Pop star Choi Si-won, the number of victims attacked by pet dogs has steadily increased according to the Korea Consumer Agency, lending credence to voices calling for more stringent regulations.
The case of Choi Si-won’s dog has attracted consternation, not merely because of the death of the bite victim, but because the dog was not leashed when it bit its victim.
The Korea Consumer Agency’s records on reported biting incidences from pet animals surged from 245 in 2011 to 1,488 in 2015. Since then, the number of such cases has held steady, tallying 1,019 in 2016 and 1,046 as of August of this year.
Under the conditions determined by the Enforcement Rule of the Animal Protection Act, pet owners are required to leash their animals and/or take other safety precautions when taking them out in public. Furthermore, in regards to large, ‘fierce’ dogs, muzzles are an additional mandatory safety measure. Violation of these strictures can result in a fine of up to 500,000 won.
Dog breeds specifically named for extra safety measures are American Pit Bull Terriers, Rottweilers, Staffordshire Terriers and other breeds which possess the capacity to cause serious bodily harm to humans.
French Bulldogs, once employed to help herd cattle, have decreased in size over time and lost their traditional ferocity through crossbreeding, though various veterinarians suggest that the dogs can become violent when feeling threatened.
Despite the existence of the Animal Protection Act and its stipulations, a string of pet dog violence incidents preceded the Choi Si-won case; in August, four dogs without leashes attacked a couple on a stroll in Gochang County, North Jeolla Province, and in December of last year, a pit bull terrier attacked a passerby’s leg after its rusted metal chain unraveled, resulting in an injury requiring amputation surgery.
Beyond calls for greater enforcement, certain pockets of society have been urging the government to emulate countries like the U.K. and Germany and introduce a certification system granting approval for raising certain dogs, or banning the import and adoption of some breeds completely.
South Korea previously had a law regulating potentially harmful canines which expired in 2012 and was not renewed.
Lina Jang (firstname.lastname@example.org)