SEOUL, Feb. 12 (Yonhap) -- Owners of dangerous breeds of dogs are required to take out insurance under a revised law effective starting Friday, government officials said.
In response to an increasing number of accidents caused by pet canines, the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs amended the Animal Protection Act last year, including the introduction of mandatory liability insurance for five breeds of canines that the government deems as being ferocious.
They are Tosa, Rottweiler, American Pitt Bull Terrier, American Staffordshire Terrier, Staffordshire Bull Terrier and their mixed breeds.
The new regulation, which goes into effect Friday, requires owners to insure against injuries and damage caused by such pet animals. Those who do not comply could be fined up to 3 million won ($2,709).
Hana Insurance Co. and some other companies have recently launched such policies with an annual fee of about 15,000 won per dog.
Compensation ranges from 80 million won for human deaths or permanent disorders to 15 million won for injuries and over 2 million won for animal injuries.
Conventional pet insurance products have a compensation ceiling of 5 million won and largely exclude ferocious breeds from coverage.
The revised law also toughens punishment for animal abuses. Those who cruelly kill animals could face imprisonment of up to three years or a fine of up to 30 million won, compared with the previous maximum punishment of two years in prison and 20 million won in fines.
The amendment has also abolished pet registration using identification tags while making microchip registration mandatory.
Owners must use a leash no longer than 2 meters when taking their pets out of doors. All pets also need to wear name tags that include information of owners and contact numbers.
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