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South Korea President adopts rescue dog, welcomes him home

South Korean President Moon Jae-in with Tori, Picture: Reuters

Seoul: South Korean President Moon Jae-in on Wednesday adopted a rescue dog and invited him to his official Blue House residence. The move is to spread awareness regarding the adoption of abandoned animals.

Tori, a four-year-old black mixed breed, becomes the first shelter dog to attain the title of First Dog, joining Moon’s two other pets, a 10-year-old Korean-breed Pungsan dog called Maru and a former stray cat, Jjing-jing.

“As a society, we need to pay more attention to abandoned animals and care for them,” Moon told animal rights advocates at the welcome ceremony, his office said, adding that as many as 300,000 animals had been abandoned, reports HT.

In South Korea, animals with dark fur suffer disgrace due to superstition. Like many shelter animals, Tori had also gone through of being abandoned and having darker fur.

“Tori had to wait for two years to be adopted while his lighter-furred friends easily found new homes,” said Park Soyoun, president of Seoul-based animal shelter Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE).

Before his rescue, Tori was kept on a short leash in a deserted farmhouse and fed scraps.

“We wish Tori all the best in the Blue House, unlike the nine dogs abandoned by the former President Park Geun-hye in March after she was removed from office,” added Park.

The previous President was criticized for abandoning nine Korean Jindo breed dogs at the Blue House when she was removed from office over a corruption scandal.

The government spent nearly 11.5 billion won ($10.3 million) on care for about 87,100 such animals in 2016. A change in perception is long overdue, say some pet owners.

“It is the key to improve animal welfare in South Korea, as many treat pets merely as possessions, something to purchase,” said Song Chanwoo, a doctor who adopted a mixed-breed dog three years ago.