[EDITORIALS]Treating animals with respectLoving means responsibility.
It is wrong to desert animals or neglect the care of animals just because they cannot express themselves or because it takes an effort to look after them.
It is also wrong to abuse or look down on animals. Respect for life is a priceless value that we must uphold.
But the reality in our society has been a shameful one. We are a society whose gross domestic product per capita is over $10,000, but illegal hunting and killing of animals take place throughout the country with little regard for the law.
The habitats of some of our pet animals are very poor, and abuse is fairly common. In Seoul, one out of every six household owns a dog or a cat; we live in a society where there are 2 million pets.
But our etiquette as animal lovers is near the bottom of the heap when compared to the situation in other developed countries.
It is hard to spot dog or cat owners carrying plastic bags in which they can clean up after their pets. Also, more owners are deserting their pets. Homeless pets, which numbered 16,000 in 2002, rose to 25,000 in number in 2003.
That increase of over 50 percent shines a spotlight into our society’s dark corners. The reality can sow the wrong kind of value system in our children, who will not learn to develop respect for animals.
Unlike Korea, other developed nations protect the rights of animals. Germany grants the same constitutional rights to animals as it does to its human constituency. Great Britain lays out rights for pet animals such as the right to be free from hunger and thirst.
Compared to such efforts in other countries, we might say that the government-led effort to revise the law governing animal protection is more than a bit late.
The existing law was insufficient because there were loopholes in the provisions for the selling and managing of pet animals and in dealing with animal corpses. We welcome the government’s belated efforts to establish a comprehensive measure to protect animals.
One thing we would ask is that the revised law be full of more realistic content for the animals. South Korea has, until now, often been criticized as a country where animal abuse is common. The revision would help to recoup our country’s tarnished image.