‘Petiquette’, Off the Leash
The appearance of dog phobia
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A dog is well known as man’s best friend throughout history. Korea is now a society with over 10 million people raising them. Dogs, with their bright and outgoing characteristics, following and caring for their owners, had a cute image to all citizens. However, and all of a sudden, this friend is now becoming an object of fear and avoidance for Korean citizens.
The dark side of a man’s best friend
An incident that occurred on the 30th of September caught the attention of Korean citizens. A French Bulldog bit the shin of the representative of Han-il-gwan, a famous Korean food restaurant. This dog was well-known for biting a lot of people in the neighborhood, and the owners did not keep the dog on a leash, let alone a muzzle. This incident happened when the victim and the dog came across each other in an elevator. After the dog bit the representative, she was transferred to a hospital, only to die within a few days due to septicemia, a disease that occurs when a person’s blood is poisoned by an infection in another part of the body. This caught even more attention when the owner of the dog turned out to be the family of Choi Si-won, a K-pop singer.
Since right after this incident, there is still an ongoing debate on the punishment that should be given. They are currently debating on whether they should euthanize the dog or not. Citizens have two contrasting views: that it should be euthanized since it killed a human, and another, asserting that it’s the fault of the owner who didn’t follow the basic etiquette of raising a fierce dog.
This ongoing debate, however, isn’t the only problem originating from this incident. Now, as people hear various news on the injuries and deaths from dog attacks, they are starting to feel afraid of them, even when they simply pass by. Facing unfamiliar deaths such as from septicemia, people have started to appear with a ‘dog phobia’. Dog phobias were known to commonly occur among the people who were actually bitten by dogs. Now, however, people are starting to be afraid towards any dog passing by them, worrying about the danger they could cause.
A park without dogs
Due to this dog phobia, both the people raising and not raising dogs are having trouble. There are no longer dogs running around freely in parks. An owner of a Shih Tzu explained their hardship, “I used to take my dog for a walk three times a week. Now I only take my dog out once or twice a week, only for around 30 minutes. I hold the leash as short as I can and try to avoid passing by children or the elderly.” In the same situation, people without dogs have the opposite thoughts. A non-dog-owner explained, “Now me and my family feel anxious even when the dogs are on a leash since we don’t know when the dog would run at us. Even when I spot a dog from a distance, I unconsciously grasp my children beside me.”
The Seoul Han River Operation Headquarters announced that 38,309 people were caught walking dogs without leashes. However, only 55 of these incidences were fined. This has showed the current consciousness of dog-owners in Korea. Researchers have pointed out that it’s not solely the problem of a lot of people raising dogs, but the fact is that there are no strict laws or education towards these dogs and their owners. Currently in England, the court's permission is needed to raise a fierce dog, and one can be sentenced up to 14 years in jail when the dog bites another person to death. Germany has a ‘Dog leash license’ in order to take the dog outdoors without a leash. Compared to these other countries, Korea’s petiquette (a compound word of ‘pet’ and ‘etiquette’) seems to be less emphasized. It’s not the actual dogs that make the accidents a problem. Kim Han-ju, the representative of Ecole de Chiens, a dog kindergarten, asserted, “Even with the upgrowing numbers of pet-owners, their consciousness on safety issues constantly conflicts with non-pet-owners. Until their consciousness is enhanced, various systems and laws should support the current status.”
On Jung-yun firstname.lastname@example.org
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