On January 16, 2020, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs (MAFRA) announced that it would consider imposing a tax on those who raise pets in the “Comprehensive Animal Welfare Plan between 2020 and 2024”. MAFRA is making it clear that they will not immediately impose a tax but will consider it in the long run. Furthermore, through the introduction of taxation, it is planning to construct local animal protection centers and specialized agencies. However, controversy continues among people who raise pets or work in the pet industry. Social costs related to pets have increased sharply in recent years. The government’s annual budget for animal protection and welfare rose to 13.6 billion won in 2019, a nine-fold increase from 2015. In addition, governments’ annual operating costs for animal protection centers amounted to 20 billion won over the previous year. Public opinion is divided over the sudden taxation for raising pets. Pet owners and animal-related industries strongly oppose this new policy, while others such as animal rights associations and people who do not raise pets are in favor. The former opinion maintains that adding economic and institutional burdens to pet owners will cause people to give up on raising their pets. Moreover, it could lead to the collapse of the growing pet industry. On the contrary, proponents support this change, saying the taxation can be helpful to increase owner’s responsibilities for being in charge of raising them. Besides, some argue that it is natural for breeders to pay for rising social costs as the pet population increases. In the case of foreign countries, owners are already being taxed on pets. Those countries are imposing pet owners with the cost of capturing and protecting abandoned animals after the process of buying and selling. In Europe, they usually charge 10 to 200 euros a year as a tax for pets. It varies depending on the number of animals, the region, and whether they are neutralized or not. Germany’s Tierheim is the typical example of a heaven for abandoned animals. It is a protection center operated with support from local governments. It costs more than 10 billion won to operate and protect about 1,500 abandoned animals. The decision to levy tax on owning pets should not be hastily made as the controversy ensues. Rather, the government should arrange a strict device of imposing liability on those abandoning their pets. In addition, the government has to provide proper education sessions for people who buy pets and require them to register their pets. Last but not least, illegal institutions such as puppy factories or auction houses, which are damaging the rights of animals, should be eradicated. Before we levy a tax on owning pets, we should reconsider how much we truly care about the pets. Pet owners and governments have to reach beneficial goals step by step.
Park Hee-ju email@example.com