South Korea seeks to raise pet registration rates and neuter outdoor dogs to minimize the number of lost and abandoned animals. It is also considering introducing a pet acquisition system for owners who are unable to keep their pets, officials said Thursday.
In a meeting presided by Prime Minister Kim Boo-kyum, the government has confirmed a measure to improve a management system for abandoned pets. It was attended by the Office for Government Policy Coordination and officials from 14 related ministries.
The new measure comes amid rising concerns about public safety caused by abandoned pets and growing interest in animal welfare. The number of households with pets has increased from 5.11 million in 2018 to 6.38 million last year.
Although the pet registration system -- designed to make finding them easily when lost -- was implemented in 2013, the rate still stands at 38.6 percent. The government seeks to raise the rate to 70 percent by 2024 through policy measures such as restricting unregistered animals from using public services.
The government also aims to promote a nationwide sterilization project for outdoor dogs. As many outdoor dogs in rural areas breed indiscriminately, their puppies are often neglected and end up being euthanized. It plans to increase the sterilization rate from 2 percent now to more than 85 percent by 2026. Nationwide, there are about 375,000 dogs who are stray or kept outdoors and are not yet neutered, officials said.
Korea is considering introducing a pet acquisition system to minimize abandoned animals. If it is implemented, when owners cannot keep their pets for reasons beyond their control, they can transfer ownership to animal protection centers. But it is only in limited cases, such as when they are enlisted, in jail or sick.
The nation will also strengthen education for potential pet owners.
Many animals are abandoned after being adopted due to insufficient pre-education, information or preparation related to pet adoption. Last year, more than 130,000 animals were lost and abandoned nationwide.
The government will provide online educational content related to adoption and support incentives such as animal registration fees when completing pre-adoption training.
Prime Minister Kim said, “With today’s measures, we hope that the sense of social responsibility of staying with your pets until the end will be established more firmly.”
On the same day, 36 lawmakers from ruling and opposition parties belonging to the National Assembly Animal Welfare Forum, proposed a complete revision to the Animal Protection Act.
The Animal Protection Act, which began in 1991, has been supplemented with major and minor revisions over the last decades. However, concerns are still raised that the current law is not keeping up with the rapid increase in pet households, animal abuse and safety management.
The key of the bill aims to prohibit animal abuses, improve abandoned pet management, strengthen monitoring systems for animals used in laboratories and facilitate animal welfare farms.
Rep. Park Hong-geun of the Democratic Party, who co-represented the forum, said, “This entire revision will be a big leap forward for the harmonious coexistence of humans and animals.”
“In line with the presidential election, the legislative environment is better than ever, with the ruling and opposition parties pouring out animal welfare policy promises every day. So we are looking forward to the passage at this regular National Assembly.”
By Shin Ji-hye (firstname.lastname@example.org