Short leashes may soon be required when walking dogs“Keep on a short leash” is no longer just an expression. It could soon be law.
A leash of no more than 2 meters (6.56 feet) will have to be used when walking dogs. In confined areas, like elevators, the animals will have to be carried or held.
The Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs on Tuesday released a revised bill on pet safety as dog attacks have been on the rise.
However, the length of the leash can be extended in open areas, like playgrounds, depending on the local government bylaws.
The government plans to collect public opinion on the revised legislation through Oct. 21.
The ministry also warned owners of dogs listed in the existing pet safety law as “dangerous” to get safety education. The law identifies five breeds as dangerous: American pit bull terrier, American Staffordshire terrier, Staffordshire bull terrier, Rottweiler and Tosa, as well as mixes of these breeds.
Those who had these dogs before March 21 this year have to get safety education by the end of this month, while those who became owners of the breeds since March 21 are given six months to complete the course.
Those in violation will face a fine of 1 million won ($839) in the first instance. The owner will receive a fine of 3 million won for the third violation.
The tightening of rules is related to the growing number of attacks by unattended dogs, especially on the elderly and young children.
According to a National Fire Agency report released in February, in the last three years, 119 emergency responders took 6,883 people to hospital due to dog attacks.
More than 2,000 people have been attacked by dogs every year between 2016 and 2018.
While most victims were people in their 50s - at 1,550 - 436 children aged 10 or younger were also attacked by dogs.
The most recent attack happened on Aug. 31, when a pit bull entered a house in Busan at 5 a.m. and attacked a 78-year-old woman in the living room.
In July, a fox terrier attacked a 35-month-old girl in Yongin, Gyeonggi. The attack happened in front of the dog owner, who said she unleashed the dog as she thought the area was empty. The dog had attacked before.
In March 2018, tighter regulations on pets went into effect. Under the law, pet owners of the five dangerous breeds are required to put leashes and muzzles on the animal when taking them outdoors.
Those that violate the regulations are subject to a maximum 3 million won fine. In cases where a person dies from an attack, the owner of the pet faces a fine of up to 30 million won or a prison sentence of up to 3 years.
The changes in the law came after a 53-year-old restaurant owner died several days after being attacked by the French bull dog owned by singer and actor Choi Si-won in an apartment elevator in 2017.
BY LEE HO-JEONG [firstname.lastname@example.org]