|▲ A picture of the rescue of a dog from animal hoarding (Source: The Kukmin Daily)
On the 8th, a man in his 60s was arrested on charges of starving 1,200 dogs to death at a junk shop in Yangpyeong- gun, Gyeonggi- do. When the dogs' bodies were first discovered on the 4th, the destruction was estimated to be about 300 dogs, but the police later found additional bodies in water tanks in the backyard, confirming that the carnage amounted to 1,200. The rubber tub in his yard and the two water tanks were filled with white- boned dog carcasses, as well as hundreds of dog carcasses that were already in decomposition and stuck to the ground of the yard. A suspect said in a police investigation, "I ran a junk shop and tried to raise a dog that people wanted to take away, but dogs died of starvation due to the high price of feed."
Animal abuse cases have been frequent in the past few years, as well as cases like this one, highlighting the problem in society. In 2019, about 60 long- haired Chihuahuas were found neglected in a detached house in Pyeongtaek, Gyeonggi- do. According to animal rights groups, the house was full of filth and dog carcasses, and dozens of chihuahuas were suffering from skin diseases. Most of the dogs had vocal cord surgery, so they could not bark, and some dogs had disabilities such as being blind or limping. Additionally, dozens of dogs starved to death in Taean, South Chungcheong- do, in 2022 due to the neglect of an elderly man in his 70s. The elderly person did not raise or manage the animals properly, even though the sponsored feed was piled up throughout the house. These events are also called, "Animal Hoarder," events. Animal hoarder, refers to a person who raises an animal(s) excessively beyond his or her ability without considering the conditions needed for raising an animal.
Although it is possible to raise several pets, animal hoarding, which collects and neglects more animals than he or she can maintain, leading to death in severe cases, is an obvious illegal act. Hoarding of Animals Research Consortium (HARC) and People for the Ethical Treatment of Animals (PETA) revealed the criteria for animal hoarder diagnosis such as, 'Does not provide minimal sanitation and environmental, nutritional, and animal health care,' 'Be not aware of the effects of problems caused by lack of care,' 'Obsessed with increasing the number of animals even though their conditions are deteriorating,' and 'Deny that they are a problem for humans and animals.'
There are regulations overseas to prevent such brutality as animal hoarding. One person cannot raise more than three dogs in Toronto, Canada, and in Australia, a separate permit is required to raise more than four dogs. Korea has also partially revised animal abuse- related regulations since 2018 to expand the scope of animal abuse, including animal hoarding. According to the revised regulations, pet owners who cause injury or disease in violation of their breeding and management obligations are also subject to animal abuse charges. In addition, punishment for animal abusers was also strengthened from, 'prison of up to one year or a fine of up to 10 million won,' to, 'prison of up to two years or a fine of up to 20 million won.' However, many pointed out that the, 'collection act (animal hoarding),' itself is still not defined as, 'abuse,' considering only, 'causing injury and disease,' due to neglect of breeding and improper management as an act of abuse. Thanks to such public opinion, the current Animal Protection Law will be revised in April of this year, to expand and materialize the scope of animal abuse.
Not only physical assault on pets, but also acts that prevent them from meeting their minimum basic needs or that betray their guardians' obligations are obvious cases of animal abuse. As domestic animal hoarding incidents frequently occur, effective preventive measures under Korea's Animal Protection Law should be prepared to raise awareness of responsibility for guardians raising pets, and prevent pets from being left unattended.
By Seo Ji-min, reporter email@example.com
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