People enjoy the company of animals and having a pet in life brings a feeling of joy that goes both ways. However, taking care of a pet is not something people should jump into without thinking about it beforehand. Raising a pet also involves a certain amount of consideration like the laws and the social atmosphere related to pets. The latest dog bite accident has allowed Korean society sufficient time to think about the pet culture in Korea, along with reinforcing the laws. With the curiosity of what it is like to raise a pet in other countries, The Argus met four students from different continents.
The Argus: Does your country have a pet-friendly environment?
Aseel: It is truly difficult to raise a pet in Libya. There is a clear and distinct boundary between humans and animals. An animal itself does not have the legal right to have a passport or a birth certificate, so there are no laws made for animals.
Kehan: I think that in China, a pet-friendly environment has yet to keep up with the rise of social awareness on pets. Over the last few decades, since the quality of Chinese people’s life has been improving, pets have been increasing in numbers throughout China. The more pets have come into sight, the more people have regarded dogs and cats as welcome companions.
However, China is so big that there still are places where people do not view animals as pets in the Western sense. Urbanization is associated with values and attitudes towards animals. Rural areas tend to display less concern for animal rights and less opposition to animal exploitation or cruelty. As a result, dogs, like pigs, are considered a main food source and can still be found on the menu of many restaurants in rural areas today.
Sydney: I would say that in Canada owning a pet is something that is very important. It is not difficult to find a pet store or a veterinarian there. Also, when purchasing a pet there are legitimate paperwork and vaccinations required. There are laws put in place by the Albertan government to make sure that pet owners follow them. Cities are full of off leash parks, clubs and training places that all center around pets.
It is also very common for people to get their pets from organizations like the “Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (SPCA),” a non-profit animal welfare organization which rescues dogs and hopes to provide them better homes. Apart from the SPCA, most people will not buy from unknown breeders and ensure the reliability from whom they are buying, no matter the price. The majority wants to help these animals and give them families that can properly take care of them. The only problem is that raising a pet is a bit pricey, but people are still willing to have one.
The Argus: What do people think of pet keeping?
Aseel: In Libya, pets are something that people find very difficult to raise, especially when it comes to dogs. Dogs are thought of as ‘nasty animals’ or ‘dirty animals here.’ Also, it is common for people to assume that dogs exist just for protection or safety. Pets such as cats, fish, and birds are treated better because they are easy to raise compared to any other animals.
Laura: Over 80 percent of Germans describe themselves as animal-lovers. Pets are a very important part of daily life, and as such, are treated with respect as any family member would be. As a result, you will not find many strays, and animal shelters are never overrun. Dogs especially enjoy a greater status in German society than perhaps any other country on the map. Dogs are welcome members of society and are usually well-behaved. Walk the streets of Berlin, for example, many dogs will be off-leash, albeit not legally. It seems more the norm rather than a rarity to see joggers in the many Berlin parks with their dogs trotting at their side.
Sydney: The stereotype of man’s best friend is very true in my country. It is hard to articulate unless you are experiencing it first hand, but pets in my country are genuinely treated as brothers, sisters, neighbors and best friends. It is very common for most families to own a household pet like cats or dogs. Pets are essentially treated with the utmost care and respect. Any instance of animal abuse creates extreme backlash and outrage from the population. Honestly they are loved as much as other humans. A small example is the response from social media: people with pets have Instagram and Facebook accounts entirely dedicated just to their pets; whether they are doing cute or weird stuff. Moreover, almost always if a pet dies they will have a funeral or a memorial dedicated to them. In Vancouver, one woman told reporters last month she was taking what she called “maternity leave” for her new puppy. There is a woman who used her paid vacation to care for her “four-legged child.”
The Argus: Were there any pet-related incidents that caught the public’s attention?
Aseel: Here is an example of a friend of mine who keeps an owl as his pet. My friend used to set his owl free at night so that it could take some rest on the tree near his window. But one of his neighbors was unnerved because of the noise that the owl made, which eventually led him to try to kill the owl by throwing rocks at the owl. After my friend found out about that, he never let his owl out again. But he could not sue his neighbor because there are no laws in Libya protecting pets.
A pet monkey attacked a girl on a college campus and ripped all of her clothes in front of a crowd last year. The monkey was released by one of the college students, which led to a clash between the victim’s tribe and his tribe. This clash killed 16 people including the monkey and its owner. No one was arrested nor went to jail for this horrible incident. If the pet owner had lived, the pet owner probably would have gone through a trial and the pet would have been released or killed by the victim’s tribe. But no one was sued for that as there are no animal-related laws.
Kehan: There is this issue happened in Guangzhou, the capital city of the province of Guangdong in southern China, which set off public fury last year. As soon as a photo of a truck full of stray dogs and cats was put online, hundreds and thousands volunteers gathered together to save the animals heading to restaurants for sale. As a result of the protest, policemen caught the owner of the truck and saved the animals. However, this kind of pet cruelty happens so much that it is hard to eradicate it for good.
Laura: Most of the serious accidents are related with dog bites. The social response varies depending on the situation. For example, if the dog attacks a person in order to protect his or her owner, the law is on the side of the dog owner. If the dog bites a person with no good reason or the cause is not enough of a reason, the law sides with the victim. But in most cases, if the pet causes an accident, the owner is at fault.
Sydney: This year the province of Quebec banned the ownership of the dog breed Pit Bulls and there was honest outrage from the rest of the country. The ban came after a Pit Bull mauled a woman and she died. There is news of increased aggression from Pit Bulls against humans and other dogs across the country and Quebec has declared them dangerous. More controversially, the province decided to get rid of the dogs any way possible, even euthanizing them. This was how it was legally solved, but socially this issue disgusted the public. Dangerous dogs are generally the result of irresponsible ownership due to inadequate socialization and training.
The Argus: Are there any laws pet owners should know when raising a pet?
Kehan: There are various regulations that cat and dog owners need to follow. Dog owners, for instance, have to register their dog and secure a license for it. Often, only one dog per household is allowed, and if you live in one of the central districts of Beijing or Shanghai, your dog must be less than 35 centimeters tall. These rules might vary depending on the city of residence. In any case, a furry friend must be properly vaccinated against rabies. Pet owners in Beijing will receive an official health and immunity certificate (vaccination red book), which serves as proof that their dogs and cats have received all the necessary vaccinations. But considering the vastness of China, not all people actually follow the rules.
Laura: There are some legal requirements for pet owners, but the laws are different depending on the states of Germany. All dog owners should make sure that they have their dog spayed or neutered, and have their puppies microchipped in order to identify the owner. As there is a tax on pets in Germany, owners must register their dog at the tax office. Last but not least, dog owners must put a muzzle on fighting dogs’ mouths when in public. As far as I know, people take out an insurance policy for their cats. In fact, there is an annual dog tax levied on owners called a Hundesteuer, with a discounted rate for dogs adopted from a shelter. This allows Germany to maintain its no-kill policy. Additionally, some German states have passed legislation requiring dog owners to pass a written exam, called a Hundefuhrerschein. The exam ensures dog owners know the basics of proper dog ownership. Likewise, the dog must pass a basic behavior test, usually at a veterinarian’s office.
Sydney: Pet owners should not leave their pets outside during the day when it is too hot or too cold. Some urban municipalities have established a limit on the number of dogs permitted in one dwelling. A dog must be on its owner’s property. If it is not on its owner’s property, it must be on a leash and under the control of a person responsible. This is to ensure the safety of the public, other animals and the dog itself. All pet owners should have their animals permanently identified, spayed or neutered, kept under control, properly trained, well-socialized and cared for.
By Moon Chae-un
Reporter of National Section