Dogs are not livestock and we urge the president of South Korea to remove them from the list of approved livestock!
Are Dogs Livestock? Confusing Regulations
While South Korean animal husbandry laws categorized dogs as livestock in 1973, to the contrary, there are also clear indications in laws regarding animal husbandry that dogs are not industrial livestock.
In 1973, when such enforcement regulations were created, the concept of a “pet” was still in its infancy in South Korea, and dogs and “farmed cats” were included in a list of livestock while defining the term, “livestock.”
In 1977, “farmed cats” were excluded from this list, for cats were deemed impossible to farm-raise en masse, and there hadn’t been any known cases of industrialization of cat farming.
Nevertheless, dogs are still included in the list of livestock. At the same time, they are exempt from all laws regarding animal husbandry, further complicating the matter.
Firstly, this means that dogs are exempt from livestock industry registration requirements.
Secondly, dog farms are not registered under livestock industry requirements. Under the South Korean animal protection laws, certain industries are categorized, for example the breeding and sale of pets, whereas the status of dog farming remains ambiguous. As a result, there are no means to process approval for dog farms to operate commercially.
Thirdly, according to the Sanitary Processing of Livestock Products Act, dogs are not livestock. Consequently, dog meat production is not regulated under this law. Article 2 states,
“Animals defined as ‘livestock’ are cows, horses, sheep, pigs, chicken, ducks, and ‘other animals appointed by presidential decree.”
Thus, there is no explicit inclusion of dogs in this category. In other words, the presidential decree never approved of including dogs in the category of livestock.
Why Dogs are NOT livestock
However, cultural norms about how dogs and cats are regarded have shifted significantly since 1973 when they were categorized as livestock.
There are over 10 million animals raised as pets in South Korea, supporting the stance that dogs are pets, not livestock. Dogs are generally regarded as family members globally, which is what the South Korean president should also realize and acknowledge.
President Moon has the power to exclude dogs from the category of livestock
Effective January 1st, 2020, South Korean animal husbandry laws have shifted the delegation of power in terms of defining “livestock” from what used to be a ministerial ordinance of the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) to a presidential decree and enforcement ordinance.
Now, with defining the term “livestock” under presidential jurisdiction, President Moon and the relevant authorities must become more active in clarifying dogs’ ambiguous place in animal husbandry laws.
According to statements in the Sanitary Processing of Livestock Products Act and animal husbandry laws, there is nothing that prohibits the definitive exclusion of dogs from the list of animals defined as “livestock.” Not only will this take South Korea a step closer in eliminating cruel breeding, farming, and slaughtering practices, but it will also prevent ideological conflicts and further complications arising from the split stances regarding the dog meat trade. Moreover, this will liberate South Korea from international condemnations and its marred image as a dog-meat-eating nation.
In August 2018, the push to ban dog meat was more fervent than ever. A national petition calling for the removal of dogs from the category of livestock, and a petition by Assemblyman Changwon Pyo to ban the slaughter of animals lacking legal basis, had each achieved over 200,000 signatures. However, The Blue House (the official residence of the President of South Korea, and the home of the executive office) has been avoiding giving clear answers to eradicating the slaughter of dogs. Instead, it has enthusiastically promised to “review all regulations regarding animal husbandry laws that require modification to clearly redefine ‘livestock’ and exclude dogs from this list amidst the growing societal interest in animal welfare.”
We cannot but express our disappointment in President Moon and the government for ignoring one of the two bills proposed to the National Assembly, despite over 200,000 signatures garnered petitioning for the liberation of South Korean dogs suffering in the inhumane dog meat trade. Their deliberate silence in relation to this bill is a de facto response that the government is unwilling to ban the farming and slaughter of dogs.
We would like to bring to attention that it is time to at least keep his promise regarding the other bill, which was perhaps easier to agree to.
Keeping in mind that the presidential pets, Tori and Jjingjjing Moon, are not livestock, President Moon must acknowledge and adjust to the changing currents of South Korean society and keep his promise to the owners of the over 10 million pets in South Korea! It is also what South Korean pet owners and animal rights activists emphasize as an obvious duty of a president!
Dogs absolutely must be removed from the definition of livestock!