As the number of animal owners increased to some 10 million in 2017, the ministry said, animal abuse and homeless animal populations have gone up too. The number of homeless animals stood at 102,000 in 2017, as compared with 20,000 fewer in 2015.
The ministry had previously broadened the definition of animal abuse to include selling stray animals, capturing animals to kill them, neglecting animals, giving animals as prizes and animal hoarding.
“The government will continue to impose stronger restrictions on animal abuse,” the ministry said.
With the leader of a South Korean animal rights group facing accusations of having secretly put down rescued dogs, animal welfare and acceptable ways to treat pets are hot issues for many Koreans.
To support the proper treatment of pets, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs recently raised the penalty for failing to register a pet from 1 million won ($891) to 3 million won ($2,674). Registering and microchipping pets makes it easier to find them if they get lost because the chips, implanted under the skin, contain information necessary to trace the owners.
Furthermore, starting sometime this year MAFRA says it intends to implement a five-year animal welfare plan that will include a wide range of actions to protect animals.
By Kim Hye-soo (firstname.lastname@example.org)