As more people adopt four legged friends, the Korean pet industry has seen steady growth. However, the number of pets reported as being abused or abandoned is also on the rise. The government has announced that it will toughen pet-related laws to discourage irresponsible pet ownership.
This is the so-called puppy kindergarten. The first class is about learning manners. In the next intelligence development class, puppies are encouraged to find hidden snacks as if they are solving a puzzle. Teachers take note on how the puppies have been during the day for their owners to read.
[Soundbite] Choi Sun-young(Puppy Kindergarten Teacher) : "I write about the puppy's bowel movements and condition in order to assure them that their pets have a good time."
This is a 12-year-old dog visiting the vet. It receives acupuncture treatment for its weakened joints. Animals even come to receive dental scaling or cataract surgery.
[Soundbite] Song Won-ho(Pet Owner) : "Although our pet is not related to us by blood, it's still family. I hope it will live a long and healthy life."
The size of Korea's pet market has doubled over the past three years. It is expected to reach 5.4 billion U.S. dollars by 2020. The growth is driven by a surge in pet owners, as the nation's population is getting older and more people opt to live alone. However, an increasing number of pets are also abused and abandoned. Tougher laws will be introduced to prevent irresponsible pet ownership. Pet owners will be sentenced up to two years in prison or fined up to 17,900 U.S. dollars if they are found to have abused their pets. The fines will be as much as 2,690 dollars for pet abandonment. Stricter regulations will be imposed on the so-called puppy factories where dogs are confined in small cages and forced to breed. The government will also set up a task force charged with cracking down on animal abuse and introduce a system to reward those reporting pet abuse cases.