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Pet Dog’s Death Leads to Legal Status for Animals in South Korea

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Legal,Pomeranian's Death Leads to Legal Status for Animals in South Korea

South Korea plans to amend its civil code to grant animals legal status, the justice ministry’s director-general of legal counsel reports. The plans come after Pomeranian named Jin-Hui was buried alive and left for dead in 2018.

No charges were filed against its owner at the time, but animal abusers and those who abandon pets will soon face harsher punishment as South Korea plans to amend its civil code to grant animals legal status, Choung Jae-min, the justice ministry’s director-general of legal counsel, told AsiaOne.

The amendment, which must still be approved by parliament, likely during its next regular session in September, would make South Korea one of a handful of countries to recognise animals as beings, with a right to protection, enhanced welfare and respect for life.

The push for the amendment comes as the number of animal abuse cases increased to 914 in 2019 from 69 in 2010, data published by a lawmaker’s office showed, and the pet-owning population grew to more than 10 million people in the country of 52 million.

Prison time for animal abusers

South Korea’s animal protection law states that anyone who abuses or is cruel to animals may be sentenced to a maximum of three years in prison or fined 30 million won (S$35,000), but the standards to decide penalties have been low as the animals are treated as objects under the current legal system, Choung said.

Once the Civil Act declares animals are no longer simply things, judges and prosecutors will have more options when determining sentences, he said.

The proposal has met with scepticism from the Korea Pet Industry Retail Association, which pointed out there are already laws in place to protect animals.

It is likely the amendment will be passed, said lawmaker Park Hong-keun, who heads the animal welfare parliamentary forum, as there is widespread social consensus that animals should be protected and respected as living beings that coexist in harmony with people.

Animal Welfare Act Thailand

Animal rights groups welcomed the justice ministry’s plan, while calling for stricter penalties for those who abandon or torture animals, as well as a ban on dog meat.

Animal in Thailand have been protected under the law since 2014 when the government passed the Animal Welfare Act. The Bill ended a decade-long legal fight for an animal protection law in Thailand. Under the Animal Welfare Act, owners who fail to provide proper treatment and appropriate living for their pets will face stiff penalties while those who treat animals poorly; be it neglect or torture, will no longer be able to do so with impunity.

Two days after the bill came into effect, police arrested the owner of a dog meat business in Chiang Rai’s Thoeng district, after officers found “dog curry” and 3kg of frozen dog meat in his fridge. The investigation also led to the arrest of a dog meat butcher in Phayao province. Both businesses were immediately shut down.

Source: Asia One, CTN News

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