By Kim Tae-jong
Seoul will propose to the central government that dogs should be categorized as livestock in order to properly regulate the trade of dog meat and strengthen sanitation inspections.
The proposal aims to solve the ironic situation where many Koreans enjoy eating dog meat despite the absence of regulations on the sale of dog meat amid ambiguous categorization of the animal, a city official from the Seoul Metropolitan Government (SMG) said.
``The real problem is, we cannot regulate the sanitation process of how dog meat is served due to the lack of regulations,'' the official said. ``We will have a series of public hearings to discuss the issue as it's a necessary step.''
Under the current law, dogs are categorized in the same group as donkeys, rabbits, horses and deer, not as livestock such as beef and chicken.
The categorization allows for the mass breeding and butchering of dogs and serving of their meat at restaurants, but does not let the authorities apply regulations for livestock to the trade of dog meat.
According to the Korea Food and Drug Administration, dog meat is also categorized as a natural product because it is not included in livestock. It means that unlike ordinary stock products such as beef or chicken, dog meat does not undergo sanitation inspections.
For now, the authorities can only take a legal action against those who butcher dogs in a brutal way or cause pollution to the environment during the slaughter process, according to the Law on Animal Protection and the Law on Pollution, respectively.
There were previous attempts to categorize dogs as livestock, but they were scrapped due to strong criticism from animal rights groups inside and outside of the country.
In 2001, 20 lawmakers proposed a bill to revise the Law on Stock Product Process, aimed at setting up proper regulations on dog meat. But the bill was scrapped without being properly dealt after meeting criticism from animal rights groups and dog lovers.