(Mar. 23, 2018) Facing a significant rise in the number of dog-attack incidents in South Korea, the National Assembly recently amended the Animal Protection Act (Act No. 4379, May 31, 1991, Korean Legislation Research Institute [KLRI] website)—first in March 2017 (Act No. 14651, Mar. 21, 2017, in Korean, Ministry of the Interior and Safety [MOIS] website) and again in March 2018 (Act No. 15502, Mar. 20, 2018, in Korean, MOIS website). The 2017 amendment came into force on March 22, 2018. The 2018 amendment will come into force on March 21, 2019.
The Animal Protection Act requires the owner of a dog raised for human companionship to
- register the dog with the heads of local governments (Animal Protection Act art. 12, para. 1);
- put an identification tag on the dog that includes the owner’s name and phone number and the dog’s registration number when the dog goes outside (id. art. 13, para. 1); and
- take safety measures such as leashing the dog in public areas (id. art. 13, para. 2).
In addition, if a dog belongs to the dangerous breeds (“ferocious dogs”) that are listed in the Enforcement Rule of the Animal Protection Act, the owner must put on a muzzle on the dog for other people’s safety. (Ministry of Agriculture, Enforcement Rule of the Animal Protection Act, Food and Rural Affairs Ordinance No. 261, Feb. 21, 2012, amended by Ordinance No. 275, July 3, 2017, art. 12 & Table 3.)
The amended Act, intending to strengthen the enforcement of these provisions, rewards people who report the owner of an animal who has not followed the requirements above. Such reporters may receive monetary rewards from local governments. (Animal Protection Act art. 41-2.) The amount of the reward is up to 20% of the fine issued for the reported violation. (Enforcement Decree of the Animal Protection Act, Presidential Decree No. 23613, Feb. 3, 2012, amended by Presidential Decree No. 28709, Mar. 20, 2018, art. 15-2.) The maximum amount of an administrative fine for a violation of articles 12 and 13 of the Animal Protection Act is 600,000 won (about US$560). (Id. art. 20 & attached Table; Animal Protection Act art. 47.)
According to the Korea Customer Association, there were 245 dog-attack incidents in 2011. Between 2012 and 2014, the number of attacks increased from 560 to 676 and, since 2015, has exceeded 1000. (Jaebum Yoo, Safety Management Measure for Pet Dogs: Main Issues and Future Tasks (Mar. 2, 2018) (click pdf icon), National Assembly Research Service website (in Korean).)
The 2018 amendment requires the owner of a ferocious dog to prevent its escape and follow regulations of the Enforcement Rule to keep other people safe. (Animal Protection Act new art. 13-2.) In addition, the owner is prohibited from bringing a ferocious dog to preschools; daycare centers; and elementary, middle, and high schools. (Id. new art. 13-3.) If a dog owner violates these safety measures and his or her dog injures another person, the owner may be punished with imprisonment for not more than two years or a fine of up to 200 million won (about US$19,000). (Id. new art. 46, para. 2.) If such a dog attack results in the death of another person, the owner of the dog is punishable with imprisonment for not more than three years or a fine of up to 300 million won (about US$280,000). (Id. new art. 46, para. 1.)
Prepared by Sayuri Umeda, Foreign Law Specialist, with the assistance of Law Library intern Jieun Chang.