Ministry starts division focused on pets, lab rats

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Ministry starts division focused on pets, lab rats

Amid a rising number of Korean homes with pets, the government is creating a department to take charge of pet-related affairs and policies.

The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs said on Wednesday that it is establishing an animal welfare policy division under its livestock policy bureau, a separate department that will oversee animal-related policies. Before, these tasks were assigned to a team under the livestock environment and welfare division.

The Agriculture Ministry said the move is a measure to improve animal welfare policies in the country due to the rising number of pet owners.

According to the ministry, the number of households in the country that own a pet has climbed by over 20 percent in just two years from 4.57 million in 2015 to 5.93 million last year.

During the same time, the number of laboratory animals increased from 2.51 million to 3.08 million, an 18 percent increase, the ministry data showed. The number of farm animals has also grown by about 1,000 during the two years.

Calls for the government to expand its effort to enhance animal welfare have been on the rise, the ministry said in a press release.

The start of a new division is also seen as an attempt to better cope with accidents caused by pets.

After a person died after being bitten by a dog owned by a Korean celebrity last year, the importance of government measures to oversee and prevent such incidents has been highlighted by the public.

“The animal welfare policy division will tackle major assignments such as preventing accidents by pets and protect animals from being abandoned or mistreated as well as enhancing the ethical guidelines for animal testing,” said an official from the Agriculture Ministry. “We think this new division will be one of the busiest departments in the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs.”

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