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South Korea: Jail Time for ARA So-Youn Park

South Korean Animal rights activist So-Youn Park (president of CARE) may serve a 1 Year prison term for "special larceny" for rescuing neglected animals from a dog farm.

�Animal rights are longing to be dignified in the presence of human law. Koreans need to stop regarding animals as pieces of property.�
-So-Youn Park

Is this a case of larceny and violation of private ownership rights? Or is this a justified animal rescue based on liberating animals in terribly inhumane conditions?

On 16th August, 2012 a South Korean court demanded So-Youn Park animal rights activist and president of CARE(Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth) serve a �1 year prison labor� for special larceny. This differs from simple larceny, as it is �a special larceny to destroy parts of construction� categorized as a serious criminal offence. This �special larceny� is punishable only by incarceration, and carries no monetary penalties.

Background story:
Mrs. Park accidentally witnessed 5 dogs and 8 chickens miserably abandoned while walking by a farm. She visited the farm three more times throughout the week with other CARE animal rights activists, but they could not find any trace of food or the owner. So they rescued the dogs and chickens from the cages during the night of November 26th, 2011. These animals were bathed in their own excretions and the activists were knee deep in dung and urine while rescuing them. It was obvious to conclude that if the animals had been kept in this condition any longer, they would have either died of disease or starvation. Days later, upon discovering the dogs and chickens were gone, Han, the owner of the farm called the police accusing Mrs. Park of theft. The prosecution charged Mrs. Park with �special larceny�. This led to a secondary trial on 14th August in the An-yang district court where the prosecution demanded imprisonment.

Even though the farm owner Han admitted that all the dogs rescued from his farm in Asan were raised for slaughter and the environment which they were kept was inadequate, it didn�t have an impact on the trial.

Korea�s animal protection laws carry no penalties when it comes to the psychological abuse or abandoning of animals. Even so, measures are hardly implemented since there is no enforcement ordinance. Amendments are needed in the direction where animal protection organizations also have the right of countermeasure, not just local governments.

Mrs. Park�s first trial verdict is scheduled for Thursday, August 30th, and regardless of the result it is expected to bring dramatic implications. If she�s found not guilty, animal protection groups� actions will gain momentum. If she is found guilty, attempts to rescue animals in need will falter and erode.

Over the last 13 years, Mrs. Park and CARE activists have rescued many abandoned animals, animals heading off to slaughter, and animals in danger of severe cruelty. In 2006, Mrs. Park led CARE to the rescue of 100 dogs from a dog farm. Earlier this year, Mrs. Park and CARE rescued nine cows from a farmer attempting to starve the cows as a form of protest against the government.

This trial has gained international interest among animal rights groups. Numerous groups such as PETA (People for Ethical Treatment on Animal), Humane Society International, etc. have already sent petitions requesting Mrs. Park be acquitted.

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