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Dog trainer Kang is under legal investigation over the euthanasia of a retired police dog

A photo of dog trainer Kang Hyung-wook and retired police dog Leo, posted on Bodeum Company's Instagram account in 2019. Captured from Instagram

A photo of dog trainer Kang Hyung-wook and retired police dog Leo, posted on Bodeum Company’s Instagram account in 2019. Captured from Instagram

Legal and ethical questions arise about euthanasia practices at home

By KTimes

Kang Hyung-wook, the CEO of Bodeum Company and a renowned dog trainer, has come under fire for allegedly violating veterinary laws by euthanizing his dog Leo on his company premises. According to Korean law, drug euthanasia must take place in a veterinary clinic.

Kang responded to the controversy on Friday and Sunday through his YouTube channel “Kang Hyung-wook’s Bodeum TV” and in media interviews.

He explained the circumstances surrounding Leo’s death and denied allegations that the dog was left on the roof of the campus in Namyangju, Gyeonggi Province, before being euthanized.

Leo, a retired police dog, had been under Kang’s care since 2019. He died in November 2022 after his health deteriorated.

“Leo’s condition was untreatable; he urinated with every breath and defecated with minimal movement,” Kang said. “He was old and couldn’t get up. We decided to care for him at the farm and clean him every morning. Ultimately, we realized that euthanasia was the kindest option. I asked a veterinarian to come to our farm to perform the procedure and our employees said goodbye to Leo.”

However, Kang’s explanation has sparked a debate over the legality of “home visit euthanasia.” Korean law requires that the use of controlled substances for euthanasia be reported to the Narcotics Information Management System.

It remains unclear whether the veterinarian who performed Leo’s euthanasia met this requirement.

The Korean Veterinary Medical Association guidelines, issued in September 2020, recommend that treatment of animals should primarily take place in veterinary clinics to ensure proper emergency response and address public health concerns , including the disposal of medical waste.

Failure to report or delay in reporting the use of controlled substances may result in suspension from the veterinary practice for up to 15 days. In addition, if the administration of these substances is not recorded in medical records, practitioners could face a six-month suspension for a first offense.

The case has sparked a broader discussion on the ethical and legal aspects of pet euthanasia in Korea, highlighting the need for stricter enforcement of existing regulations to ensure animal welfare and public safety.

Kang is currently facing intense criticism over allegations of employee abuse at his private dog training company, raising suspicions due to his long silence on the issue. He rose to fame on EBS TV’s “There Are No Bad Dogs in the World” (2015-18) and became even more popular, earning the nickname “dog president” with his regular appearances on KBS’ “Dog is Great” since late 2019 .

This article from Hankook Ilbo, a sister publication of The Korea Times, was translated by a generative AI and edited by The Korea Times.

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