The widely loved and celebrated writer, Charles Dickens once said, “What greater gift than the love of a cat?” Besides cats, many adorable pets are getting more and more popular these days. In addition to the joy that comes from watching them, keeping a pet benefits humans in many ways. Pets become their best friend who is on their side for their whole lives. They give a sense of emotional stability and relieve loneliness in a special way. As pets are becoming a part of life, services for pets such as pet taxies and pet hotels are emerging. However, let alone the services, there are animals which are suffering from the selfishness of their owners.
Some people demand their pets to endure pain for the cute appearance they want. The Scottish Fold is an example. They are popular for their loveable folded ears. However, the cute folded-ears characteristic gives almost all of them genetic joint problems from arthritis to iosteochondrodysplasia. In spite of the voices that insist breeding of Scottish Folds be prohibited to stop these genetic disabilities from being passed down, the popularity of the breed is still growing. The teacup puppy is another result of human selfishness. It is literally teacup-sized and will not grow larger than a teacup. To keep them small and cute, producers provide the least amount of food for survival and even inject anti-growth hormone shots.
Living under the same roof with their pets, some force their pets to sacrifice. If you search for a ‘bark control collar’ on Naver, more than 8,000 products will come up. When a dog barks, the collar gives several warnings to the animal. After that, it gives an electric shock to the dog. Many of the reviewers say that it is such a torture to see the dog writhing in pain, not knowing that they are the one who is torturing the dog. If the collar does not produce satisfactory results, owners sometimes even resort to vocal cord-removal surgery.
After being forced to sacrifice for selfish human desire, pets are abandoned when they become unwanted. From 2012 to 2016, the number of annually abandoned animals was about 80 thousand. Abandoned animals die on the road or after a specific period, they are euthanized even if they are lucky enough to be rescued by an animal shelter. In 2016, 44 percent of them naturally died or were put to sleep.
Unlike Korea, in Germany, animal rights are well protected by the Animal Welfare Act. There is no euthanasia in the German animal protection shelter Tierheim, and an animal tax paid by pet owners cover all the expense of operating it. Tierheim could succeed in Germany because social consensus on protecting animal rights was formed. However, Korea still has a long way to go. The fact that laws regard pets as a property, not a living creature, gives a glimpse of how pets are treated in this country. Mahatma Gandhi once said, “The greatness of a nation can be judged by the way its animals are treated.” Like what he said, small but steady progress in public awareness seems to be required. Along with that, if the current legal system and overall welfare of pets can improve, it will be a much better world for both pets and humans.
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