Legal and Policy Proposals for Improving Animal Rights and Public Transportation for Companion Animals

Despite some differences between surveys, having animals as companions is already extremely common in Korea, and its popularity is gradually increasing. In contrast, the social and institutional preparation for having animals as companions is inadequate, raising issues of discrimination against non-companions and inequality. Under the current law, the general status of animals is a “thing,” which is reflected in various clauses stipulating the boarding of animals on public transportation. According to the terms in the clauses, animals are “articles” that passengers “carry,” which are prohibited from boarding in principle. In fact, as a result of a questionnaire survey on the use of public transportation with companion animals, 54% of the respondents did not use public transportation at all when going out with their companion animals, and positive responses to questions about convenience when even using public transportation was only 12.4%. European countries, such as Germany and Switzerland, standardised the protection of animals in their constitutions and laws. Animals that have secured legal status in this way are systematically guaranteed to board when using public transportation. It can also be confirmed that these countries involve multilateral efforts to reduce conflicts with the persons who don’t have animals. In Korea, there is also a need for a swift passage of a bill to revise the Civil Code, that denies the legal status of animals as things in the National Assembly. In addition, priority must be given to ensure the legal status of animals, such as revisions to the current various transportation clauses, development of laws and regulations, and revisions to the Constitution from a long-term perspective. Along with the overall pet-friendly policy, it could be also considered to pilot a new companion animal compartment, to permit medium and large-sized animals on board, for example It is also necessary to establish a new fare for companion animals to settle the system. Finally, low-floor buses, which are obligatorily supposed to be added according to the Act on promotion of the transportation convenience of mobility disadvantaged persons, should be designed with companion animals in mind.