On the high way, a car lowers its speed and a tiny poodle is thrown out. The car speeds up and leaves without hesitation. The dog desperately follows the car but soon stops, realizing that it has been abandoned. In South Korea you will see many videos with such scenes.
More than 100,000 dogs are abandoned in South Korea and unfortunately, only 35% of all abandoned animals can find new homes. Those that are left are euthanized within 10 days from once they are in a shelter due to lacking budget. Such a massive number of abandoned dogs—most people raise dogs as pets—are the result of a vast production and sale of animals.Animals—mostly dogs—are sold at pet shops that display them in tiny squared glass shelves. Every day, more than 20,000 puppies that are less than 40 days old are bought by pet shops from so-called “dog factories.” To make more money, the factories crossbreed dogs by force, use estrus inducers to bear puppies three times a year, and do illegal surgeries. Due to limited budget to handle increasing number of abandoned animals caused by a mass reproduction, animal shelters cannot manage their animals and facilities well. People, hence, hesitate to get animals from the shelter since they are not cared for well and look unhealthy. Such cycle is then repeated.
To avoid this, the government of Germany strictly prevents mass production of animals. People, instead of pet shops, can adopt animals from either animal shelters, licensed or private breeders. Although there still are some illegal animal dealers, adopting from animal shelters prevails. Each year, 95% of animals out of 600 to 800 in Stuttgart animal shelter (Tierschutzverein Stuttgart und sein Tierheim), in fact, find new homes. This is because animals are properly managed in an appropriate environment. Animals in the shelter have enough space to walk around freely. For dogs they also have indoor rooms to help them through winter. No animals are euthanized unless they are going through severe pain or disease. Restricting mass commercialization of animals and improving their welfare was possible thanks to the German legislation that considers animals as “beings” rather than objects. According to paragraph 20a of the German Basic Law, “Like humans, animals have the right to be respected and their dignity must be protected by the state.” Korea, unfortunately, is still under a crisis on developing animal welfare systems. Even companion animals are vastly commercialized and easily thrown away by people. As perceptions of adopting animals are gradually evolving, I hope one day all pet shops will disappear in Korea.