Two kinds of pets’ lives in Korea
This morning, I happened to come across two contrasting stories regarding the lives of pets reported in local media. One is about lucky pets that enjoy comforts most humans would envy.
According to an article in The Korea Times, pets of affluent customers receive service on a par with that which their owners in most large retail stores are offered in Korea. In order to attract customers and get them to spend a lot of time shopping without worrying about their pets, department stores and large shopping centers are expanding services that cater to pets.
Those services vary from spas to animal hospitals. Some stores are providing care centers for customers’ pets which are exactly like daycare centers for babies. Some stores have pet grooming parlors more luxurious than anything ordinary people can enjoy. How lucky it is to have affectionate, affluent owners! For such pets a dog’s life is a blessing!
In contrast we see other pets suffering hellish misfortune. A local media report shows the miserable living conditions of stray animals now in the custody of public shelters. The horrific scenes of these dogs’ and cats’ lives are more than misery itself.
Dozens of pet dogs were crammed into a small wire cage in the makeshift house temporarily used as an animal shelter. Several sick animals were just rammed into another wire cage without any medical care. The inside of the shelter was shocking beyond description. There was no vet to take care of the animals.
Severe criticism should be focused on the authorities guilty of such cruel negligence and ill-management. However, my anger falls more on the original owners, whose pets, once maybe the center of affection, now suffer terribly in these dark, narrow, stuffy, wire cages.
Abandoned by their pathetic owners, the helpless animals are literally dying, some of disease, some of malnutrition, all compounded by stress stemming from the feeling of being deserted. I don’t want to claim that animals have the same emotions as humans, but years of close association with owners must develop emotions in animals similar to human feelings.
While looking at these two extreme opposite treatments of pets, I unwittingly thought of the ideal interaction between pets and owners. Pets need constant balanced care. But hopelessly the ideal often fails, for too many of us care for pets whenever we feel like it but ignore their needs when we have other distractions.
Our care for them depends on our moods, not on their moods and needs. Just like toys indifferently discarded by bored toddlers those poor pets in the shelter were thrown away when they failed to please their owners.
I believe most owners are kind and sensitive enough to perceive the various needs of their pets and give them proper care. But the harsh reality is that if two needs are in conflict, those of a helpless animal tend to be dismissed, and the pet may even be abandoned. How cruel it is! So it is seriously advisable not to decide to get a pet unless you are determined to care for it from cradle to grave, for better or for worse.
Hasty decisions sparked by ``love” at first sight could result in ultimate misery. As a pet owner, I want to remind all prospective pet owners that keeping animals requires CONSTANT CARE and LOVE.
It must be borne in mind that the fate of a pet depends completely on the owner, and sometimes the fickle temperament of a person can displace a pet from the heaven of an animal spa to the hell of a stuffy wire cage.
The writer is an English teacher in Gimhae Girls' High School in south Gyeongsang Province. His email address is firstname.lastname@example.org.