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Animal rights charities welcome crackdown on cruelty

Animal rights charities have welcomed a legal crackdown on animal cruelty, but say the revised laws must go further to end the practice.

People harming animals in Korea may face up to one year in jail or a maximum fine of 10 million won ($9,400) from next year. Currently, the heaviest penalty is a fine of 5 million won.

The Korean Animal Welfare Association welcomed a string of revisions to the animal welfare laws as they included stipulations making it harder for large retailers to sell pets indiscriminately to careless owners.

“Before the new report system for selling animals, there was no need to report or get permission to sell animals other than dogs,” KAWA campaigner Lee Hyung-Ju said. “E-Mart and other mega markets will soon need to be licensed to sell small animals on site.”

Under the revised law, dog owners will also have to register with local governments from 2013. But Lee said laws were also needed to ban people who had harmed animals before from keeping them again.

“The laws to limit the ownership of people convicted of animal cruelty did not pass. Also, the laws only protect companion animals and exclude the dogs raised to be eaten, so there is a question mark how effectively the new legislation will work.”

KAWA has recently highlighted a string of animal abuse cases, including offering a 1 million won reward for information leading to the arrest of a man caught on camera beating a dog almost to death.

The Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries said Monday that the revised animal protection law will see tougher penalties for such pet abusers come into force from January 2012.

Animal charity the Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth welcomed news that the central government shall, among other measures, establish and enforce a comprehensive animal welfare scheme every five years.

A CARE spokesperson said: “We still need to revise our animal protection law, but somehow the situation is getting better and better.”

CARE is to hold an awareness-raising concert on Sunday, July 24 at 6 p.m. at Rolling Hall in Seoul’s Hongdae area. All proceeds from the event will go directly to helping Korean street animals. More than 100,000 pets were abandoned or lost on the streets of the country last year. For more information go to www.fromcare.org.

By Kirsty Taylor (sharing@heraldcorp.com)
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