[Op-ed] Cherish Your Canine Family
Tears of abandoned dogs in Korea and how to save them
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As the number of nuclear families, bachelors, spinsters, and old couples increase in South Korean society, the rate of raising dogs as companions is a rising trend. According to the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs of Korea, it is estimated that about five to six million dogs are being bred nationwide. However, the Huffington Post claims there are 60,000 dogs abandoned every year, wandering around the streets without a destination. What is more staggering is that this is the governmental data of officially registered dogs, inferring that there would be more stray dogs undiscovered on the streets.
Tragedy of the abandoned dogs
When stray dogs that seem to have been neglected are found, they are reported to the local government agency. It is a fortunate situation for the dogs, if they possess identification chips. However, a series of misfortunes befall on the reported dogs, because a host of them do not own identification chips as they are intentionally marooned on the streets by their previous owners. As the dogs are moved to public protection centers or pounds, the officials send out a public announcement for 10 days through the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency’s animal care and service system. The percentage of these dogs finding their owners is a mere 20%, and 30% of the rest of dogs find new owners who will start new lives. However, during this process, the ruled out ones are bound to either be euthanized or become ill and meet their deaths.
The reasons behind this tragedy usually arise from thoughtless decisions to breed dogs without any economic precautions. Since the insurance system for animals is lacking, the costs resulting from various veterinary treatments are unbearable for some owners. According to the Joongang Daily, a skin suture surgery, which is frequently performed on pets, costs 550 thousand won. Also, an X-ray costs a minimum of 100 thousand won, a shot of inoculation, 20 thousand won, and heartworm prevention medicine,10 thousand won. Expensive medical care for dogs often lead the owners to abandon their dogs.
Solutions to enrich the lives of pet dogs
Numerous people who desert their dogs often do not sincerely study about them but rather, they bring dogs to their home due to their looks. The problem arises in the decision-making process on whether to keep a pet or not. If I were to have a pet, it is extremely vital to ponder about whether I am to be an appropriate and responsible owner. In order to judge myself, learning about a particular dog's history, environment, eating habits, characteristics, health and costs to raise them, and more, is demanded.
The best solution to this problem is to follow the path of Germany. The German Animal Welfare Act gives rights to animals that are similar to human rights. Thus, grave responsibility is tested before humans gain the legal right to breed and raise pets at home. According to Article 2 of the Act, “any person keeping and caring for or required to care for an animal must possess the knowledge and skills necessary for providing the animal with adequate food, care, and housing in accordance with its behavioral requirements” (German Federal Law, 2010). This federal law also bestows selling rights to only certain animal enterprises that are consistently under governmental surveillance. These enterprises hence require anyone willing to keep pets to pass certain prior knowledge tests and interviews. Also, abandonment of animals subjects the keeper(s) to a fine of a minimum of 25 thousand euros, which also prevents irresponsible people relinquishing their possession of pets.
Looking into the eyes of neglected animals on streets or in pounds, they seem to pine for their invaluable, happy memories with their owners. It is important to keep in mind that pets are not possessions, but family members that hold sacred lives of their own.
Kim Ju-hyun firstname.lastname@example.org
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