By Park Si-soo
From killing dogs for fun to throwing pets off buildings, the abuse of animals has reached a shocking level here, igniting public calls for harsher punishment for those committing the heinous acts.
Not only adults but a growing number of teenagers have been caught for cruelly treating animals. Worse, they are committing the crimes without any sense of guilt, analysts said.
Seven high school students have been recently apprehended for savagely killing nine dogs in their village for fun. Two of them were arrested last Monday.
Major websites are flooded with pictures and video clips of pets being tortured, raising concerns from animal rights activists who believe they might invite copycat crimes.
On Dec. 9, a netizen, whose penname was Catsaw, posted a message and four photos of a bleeding cat on a cat owner-only message board associated with the popular community website DCINSIDE. The animal in the photos was bleeding from a crushed jaw.
The author proposed a sort of “do-or-die” game to visitors to the message board, saying, “If you convince me without abusive language, I will help the cat and then let it go home. If not, I will kill it.”
Police opened an investigation into the case at the request of an animal rights group, The Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth. It is supporting the probe by offering cash rewards for key information up to 5 million won (about $4,470).
Park So-youn, president of the animal rights group, said the number of animal abuse cases reported has increased steeply since 2009.
She said her group handled roughly 10 cases a month before 2009 but it deals with around 50-70 these days.
“Animal abusers are getting younger and crueler,” Park said. “Another notable change is that many people make public their cruelty to animals through the Internet.”
Cases of animal abuse have steadily been reported.
Last year, a young woman threw her neighbor’s cat from the 10th floor of an apartment building to vent her anger against her boyfriend. In another case a 70-year-old woman drew fierce public condemnation for throwing the body of an abandoned cat she killed out of a building.
Criminal psychologists express concern over the increasing abuse. They say teenage animal abusers could become, in the worst case scenario, serial killers when they grow up.
“The common factor found among convicted serial killers is that they were habitual animal abusers,” said professor Lee Yung-hyeock at the National Police Academy. “Those with a normal mentality feel sympathy when they hurt or witness abused animals. But habitual animal abusers have no feelings about it.”
Experts say a variety of techniques have been developed to kill or harass animals and such information is spreading through the Internet.
Animal rights activists are calling for the introduction of tougher punishment to contain the rising curve.
They also claim the law should be revised to deprive abusers from owning pets.
Many advanced countries impose jail sentences on animal abusers.
In 2008, a British man received a jail sentence for abusing his castrated horse and in June 2009, a U.S. citizen was sentenced to five years in prison for shooting a six-week-old puppy.
동물 학대 극도로 심해
재미로 개를 죽이는 것부터 건물 밖으로 애완동물을 던지는 등 동물학대가 심각한 수준에 이르러 이 같은 학대행위를 하는 사람들에게 엄한 벌을 주라고 많은 사람들이 촉구하고 나섰다.
어른들 뿐 아니라 10대들도 동물을 잔인하게 다루는 일이 점점 늘어나고 있다. 더욱 한심한 것은 죄의식 없이 이 같은 범죄를 저지르고 있다는 것이다.
최근 7명의 고교생이 그들 마을에서 재미로 아홉 마리의 개를 무자비하게 죽여 경찰에 체포됐다. 이들 중 2명은 지난 월요일 구속됐다.
주요웹사이트에는 애완동물이 학대받는 사진과 비데오로 넘쳐나 모방범죄를 자초할 것으로 믿는 동물보호운동가들의 우려를 불러일으키고 있다.