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About two years ago a report by SBS, one of Korea’s top broadcasters, about a woman who went by the name of Jeon, shocked the nation.
The house of 50-year-old Jeon reminded people of a dumping ground. About 50 dogs were cramped in a small room, attacking each other because of the stress. The room was full of dog droppings and fur.
Jeon said she brought abandoned dogs to take care of them, which she did because she wanted to escape the sadness from her recent divorce. She was diagnosed as an animal hoarder. People who keep so many animals they cannot afford them, and feel anxiety and unstable when they have to be away from their animals are called classified as hoarders.
The Korean Animal Welfare Association defines animal hoarders as people who have no ability or will to take care of their animals, who only want to collect and keep them.
It has been two years since the report of Jeon was on the air, and many efforts have been put to save the abused animals of hoarders in Korea. However, cases of abused animals are still being reported.
On May, the Korean Alliance for prevention of Cruelty to Animals (KAPCA) rescued about 50 decrepit cats from a small flat care in Busan, the second largest city in Korea, because of malnutrition and lack of hygiene.
According to KAPCA, the owner of the cats ran out of the flat and asked KAPCA to rescue them. The owner adopted four cats at first, but then watched the number of cats grow without getting rid of them.
In March, a woman in her fifties was accused of holding onto about 30 dead bodies of cats at her home. She was reported by her neighbors, who noticed the smell. It was reported that she was a worker of Seoul city, and she brought those cats while she was working for “Trap-Neuter-Return,” or TNR.
Seoul City started TNR in 2008 in order to decrease the number of street cats in Seoul, by neutering cats and putting them back on the street.
According to the Korean Animal Welfare Association, the number of abused animals by animal hoarders is increasing in Korea. However, it is impossible to punish them just for not feeding or cleaning their animals, because such a law does not exist.
Under Korea’s current law, only those who attack or assault animals can be punished.
The Korean government is poised to enact a law which encourages people to report the number of pets they have to the government, but since this law has no power to take animals from their owners, it seems that the number of cases of animal abuse will not easily decrease in the near future.
The head of the Korean Animal Welfare Association said, “It is the era that people should think about the quality of a companion animal’s life. People who cannot afford to have many pets should stop collecting them, and the Korean government should take strong measures to protect abused animals by animal hoarders.”