SEJONG, Mar. 21 (Korea Bizwire) — South Korea’s agriculture ministry said Wednesday it will implement a revised animal safety law to require dogs to wear a leash in public places, but it withheld a controversial plan to give cash rewards to those who report violators amid a backlash from animal lovers.
Starting from Thursday, dogs will be required to have a leash no longer than 2 meters in public places, and animals taller than 40 centimeters and potentially dangerous breeds will have to wear muzzles as well.
Dog owners who fail to abide by the rules will be subject to penalties up to 500,000 won (US$466.40), which has been raised from the current 100,000 won.
Those who fail to pick up their dog’s feces and don’t register their dogs can also face penalties ranging from 50,000 won to 600,000 won under the new regulations.
While the government had planned to give 20 percent of the fines as cash rewards to those who report rule breakers, the so-called “dog paparazzi” system was put on hold over concerns about invasion of privacy and the efficacy of its implementation.
To receive cash rewards, those reporting rule breakers need to submit photos and personal information about the violators, which could lead to them taking secret photos of dog owners and lead to confrontational encounters.
“Although the cash reward system for those reporting offenses has not been implemented, violations (of the new animal laws) are still subject to fines,” Park Byung-hong, a ministry official in charge of livestock policy, said in a briefing. “We will continue to strengthen the crackdown on violations to raise the effectiveness of the new regulations.”
A total of 1,019 dog bite cases were reported in 2016, more than quadruple the 245 cases reported in 2011, according to the Korea Consumer Agency.