I understand the argument made that dogs have higher emotions and intellects than other commonly eaten animals like chickens and cows. Dogs also have always had a special relationship with humanity, "man's best friend," and eating dog is almost seen as tantamount to cannibalism.
Last year I was given the chance to try bosintang (보신탕), the Korean soup made from dog meat. At the time my line of thinking was that it is a cultural tradition and local custom in Korea to eat dog meat, so I would try it once to have the experience. It was disgusting. Even if it tasted decent I would still never be able to like it because I object to how the dogs are killed before being prepared and served (they are hung and then beaten to death to best tenderize the meat).
Now there is an article in the Korea Times about how commonly dogs are being casually discarded by their owners. Is the value of a dog's life in Korea viewed lower than by peoples of other countries? Maybe...
The number of small dogs found abandoned reached about 12,000 between January and August this year, among which 1,208 were Maltese followed by 1,125 shih tzu and 730 Yorkshire Terriers, among others.
Jindo dogs topped the large-dog category with 284 followed by 104 Golden Retrievers and 44 Siberian Huskies. Most of them were found in Eunpyeong, Mapo, Songpa and Seodaemun, where residents moved to other places.
Some pet owners easily abandon their companions once their “craze” for a pet fades, according to experts. “For example, Siberian Huskies originate from the far northern hemisphere, which does not suite the Korean climate. The dogs suffer from hair loss, lethargy and other health problems while owners easily get disappointed,” Prof. Hwang Cheol-yong of the Seoul National University told Yonhap News.
Animal shelters conduct mercy killing of abandoned pets unless the owner shows up within 10 days from the notice, while a few very lucky ones are adopted.
Many experts said more local administrations should implant a microchip with information about the pet owner so that people take complete responsibility for their animal companions and not treat them like casual toys. At present, Seongnam City in Gyeonggi Province has implemented such a program.There are many pet shops in my city with cute little dogs in the windows. I see skinny Korean girls giggling at them all the time thinking about how cute it would be to have one and walk around with it in their purse. I think they treat the purchase of a dog like the purchase of a new cell phone. Like it is only a two year contract and then you can get a shinier and more entertaining one.
Dogs are also not really suitable for the Korean lifestyle. Koreans work and go to school the most in the OECD and take few vacations. They do not spend much time at home. Additionally, they live in apartments and dogs need to go outside to be walked and to use the bathroom multiple times a day. I am sure that Koreans underestimate this and do not appreciate the gravity of taking on a twelve to eighteen year commitment.
Absolutely, these dogs should be planted with microchips that contain their owners information. People need to take responsibility for these animals or at the very least find them a new home if they are unable to continue caring for them. Also, if they are in fact genuinely lost animals, they can be returned to their homes and spared the grief of the owner's looking and worrying about them.