NEWS AND COMMENT-OSAN AIR BASE, SOUTH KOREA: The Korea Herald reports that, in December 2021, more than 10 feral cats were shot and killed by US troops with air guns on Osan Air Base. The South Korean broadcaster KBS presented a video which showed a military employee shooting a pellet from a rifle at the head of a cat in a cage. In the footage a man is interviewed in which he said: “The harmful animal handling team shot the (captive) cat. They didn’t care whether the cat was sick, injured, old or nursing.”
It appears that the alleged incident has caused embarrassment to the American military because they’ve stopped doing it. They started to get rid of feral cats this way in July 2021. From April 2021 the pest management team, as they are called, took the stray cats to a veterinarian on the base where there were euthanised. It appears to me, by the way, that these were community cats by which I mean semi-domesticated feral cats.
The change from euthanasia to what appears to be illegal shooting occurred because euthanasia drugs are expensive and the veterinarian or veterinarians doing the euthanasia were traumatised, according to the informant.
If the report is correct that the veterinarian carrying out the euthanasia was traumatised it begs the question as to how they dealt with it. Perhaps the veterinarian objected and resisted euthanising healthy cats. This may have encouraged the military to shoot them instead. How did the veterinarian react to that news, I wonder?
A spokesperson at the base said that the cat killings were carried out according to the rules. A non-profit organisation involved in the rescue of laboratory animals, Beagle Rescue Network, had been investigating the shooting of cats at the base for two months after they were tipped off. They secured videos and photos to prove the killings and sent the evidence to the Korean government as well as to the broadcaster.
A spokesperson for that organisation said: “Such practice clearly constitutes animal cruelty under law and the domestic animal protection law strictly prohibits ‘acts that lead to death in a cruel way'”.
I was prompted to look up the animal welfare and protection legislation of South Korea. We are told that it is weak legislation and badly enforced. I would expect that sending the evidence to the government would result in nothing happening.
Although, the law is not worded badly. It seems to be more a matter of failure to enforce it. The Animal Protection Act and the Wildfire Protection and Management Act prohibit killing wild animals by cruel methods. It also protects the killing of domestic cats in the same way on my understanding of it.
Animal protection laws in the West would regard shooting stray cats in the head with an air pellet as animal cruelty, quite certainly. And therefore, I would expect the South Korea law to come to the same conclusion.
South Korea has a bad reputation for animal cruelty. Simply look at the dog and cat meat trade which is a major concern for South Korean animal activists. Over 2 million dogs are consumed annually. Sometimes pet dogs are stolen and sold into the trade and killed brutally. Sometimes pet cats are killed in the same way.
How does this cruel cat and dog meat trade escape the animal protection laws of South Korea? Hardly a great reputation for animal welfare.
Below are some pages on cat and dog meat in the form of a slideshow. Please click on the images to go to the page.
Please search using the search box at the top of the site. You are bound to find what you are looking for.