The Korea Herald


Animal shelter busted for killing and burying hundreds of pets

By Moon Ki Hoon

Published : Nov. 15, 2023 - 16:29

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Animal carcasses exhumed from a property in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province, in April (LIFE) Animal carcasses exhumed from a property in Yeoju, Gyeonggi Province, in April (LIFE)

Yeoju Police Station confirmed Tuesday the arrest of 10 individuals linked to the discovery of over 100 animal carcasses on a local property. The investigation, initiated in April after a report from South Korean animal rights group LIFE, uncovered 118 bodies — 86 dogs and 32 cats — in a state of severe malnutrition.

The harrowing scene of the exhumation sparked outrage after being featured on an animal TV show in May, prompting 31,400 people to sign an online petition demanding justice. Autopsies conducted by the National Forensics Service confirmed details of starvation and abuse, finding that many of these animals had been buried while still alive.

The ensuing police investigation revealed an organized criminal operation. The suspects, pretending to be operators of a legitimate animal shelter, defrauded people looking to give up their pets into paying them up to 6 million won ($4,600) for supposed care and adoption. After providing assurance to the former owners with photos during the first few weeks, the suspects then sent the pets to be put down, killing 118 animals over a four-month period.

Three suspects, including the alleged leader of the scheme, have been detained, with seven others facing prosecution. They face charges of violating animal protection laws and committing fraud, according to the police.

Reacting to the incident, animal rights activists urged for stricter animal shelter regulations. While non-profit shelters have to register with the government and are regularly checked, for-profit shelters like the one involved in this case operate without government scrutiny.

In a statement released on their official social media account, LIFE announced plans to provide legal assistance to victims of similar incidents while pledging to pursue further legal action. Additionally, the group issued a warning to pet owners considering giving up their pets, cautioning them against suspicious animal shelters that request money for adoption.