Pets have a positive impact on us in many ways. Domestic pet ownership rate is on the rise as it was 17.8% in 2010, 20.1% in 2013, and 24.8% in 2016. Approximately, one out of four households breed’s pets. As industrialization began, the quality of life increased and the pet industry has steadily expanded. This has been made possible by animals being available for adoption on the Internet pet shops making it easier to purchase pets.
However, the pet welfare of our country is still weak despite the increasing number of pets. The numbers of dogs and cats that are discarded are increasing day by day. In the case of these pets, when many enter shelters they are euthanized if the owner do not appear or they are not adopted quickly. We should think about what we can do to create a better environment for animals.
Animal welfare started from the reflection of factory type animal husbandry which has already been created or legislated in advanced countries. Germany guarantees the rights of animals with their constitution. In Sweden, owners who leave their dogs alone for more than five hours are accused of animal abuse. On December 24, 2016, the Los Angeles Downtown Resource Center launched a welfare program that provides health care for homeless pets and free distribution of dietary and other supplies.
The UK, which created the Animal Welfare Committee for the rights of animals, is famous for enacting the Animal Welfare Act. The Animal Welfare Commission is an independent advisory body which was established in 1979. It seeks advice from the government on animal welfare in the fields of raising, transporting, slaughtering, markets, and legislative activities of the government.
The Committee on Animal Welfare introduced five freedoms for animal welfare in 1993. These freedoms include freedom from hunger and thirst, freedom to enjoy an appropriate environment such as a comfortable house for animals, freedom to enjoy appropriate prescriptions and treatments to help the animal escape from pain and illness, freedom to live in appropriate spaces and facilities for animals, and freedom to receive appropriate environment and treatment to prevent mental suffering.
In order to do this, an on-site supervisor (RSPCA) is employed to check whether the animal welfare standards are complied with and certifies members based on the results. The field surveillance officer visits them periodically and checks whether they comply with the farm animal welfare standards. Furthermore, they enacted the Animal Welfare Act which prohibits abuse of farm animals as well as animals used in experiments.
However, since our country recognizes pets as private property, proper animal welfare is not being practiced. Since 2016, Korea's Ministry of Environment has been promoting the legislation of zoo breeding and animal welfare laws, but it is still very weak. Therefore, Korea should try not only to improve citizens' awareness of animal welfare, but also to create wide and systematic animal welfare laws for zoo animals, factory animals, slaughter houses, wildlife hunting, and pet management. It is the right thing to do to take responsibility for the welfare of animals.