Gov’t rethinks tightened rules for dog walkers

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Gov’t rethinks tightened rules for dog walkers

Korea will seek ways to complement new dog safety laws to allow for a more flexible approach when regulating untethered dogs in public places, the country’s agriculture minister said.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs last month announced a set of dog safety measures that require dog owners to use a leash no longer than 2 meters on all canine pets and a muzzle for dogs taller than 40 centimeters in public places.

“The dog safety regulations received support from a majority of civilians, but many dog owners said the law is excessive, especially the compulsory muzzling [of dogs],” Agriculture minister Kim Young-rok said in a recent interview with Yonhap News in Seoul. “We will listen to their voices and come up with complementary measures. We will seek to minimize the compulsory wearing of muzzles.”

The government introduced the stricter regulations after a series of fatal dog bites sparked calls for better control of potentially dangerous animals, but some pet owners have questioned the effectiveness of the laws.

The leash law will take effect next year, and the compulsory wearing of muzzles was given a three-year grace period before full adoption.

As the new regulations have yet to take effect, Kim said the government will collect opinions from experts and pet owners to come up with a flexible, lighter-touch regulation.

“I personally think requiring a 2-meter dog leash everywhere is excessive,” Kim said. “We will push to flexibly adopt the rule, allowing longer leashes in places when people are not around [dogs].”

A total of 1,019 dog bite cases were reported in 2016, more than quadruple the 245 cases in 2011, according to the Korea Consumer Agency.

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