|CCTV footage shows a woman throwing a puppy at a pet shop in Gangneung, Gangwon Province, Saturday. / Yonhap|
By Kang Seung-woo, Dong Sun-hwa
Police have launched an investigation into an animal abuse case in which a woman threw her three-month-old pet at a store owner, causing its death.
According to the Gangneung Police Station in Gangwon Province, Tuesday, investigators finished questioning the woman, surnamed Lee, as well as the owner of a pet shop in the country's eastern coastal city, surnamed Oh.
CCTV footage of the shop went viral, Monday, showing Lee, in her 20s, taking her her newly bought Maltese puppy from a portable pet carrier and throwing it at the pet shop owner.
According to Oh, the woman bought the puppy for 500,000 won ($445) from the shop on Saturday, but demanded a refund just seven hours later, saying the dog ate its own feces.
The shop owner turned this down, and told her a dog could start eating feces due to a sudden change of surroundings. He asked Lee to keep an eye on the puppy for a few more days. Following an argument, the women threw the puppy at Oh's chest, and it fell to the floor.
Oh said Sunday he did not think she would throw the puppy, saying this happened in an instant, so he could not catch it.
He fed the puppy, but it began vomiting after 10 p.m. He took the animal to a veterinary clinic but it died at 2:30 a.m. the next day, from a brain hemorrhage due to trauma to its head, according to the vet.
After the death, Oh sent a message to Lee, which read, "I will file a complaint against you for animal abuse and defamation."
She replied, saying, "You killed the dog ― why are you asking me to take responsibility? I will also bet everything I can."
The woman reportedly had adopted two dogs from the same shop, and two other dogs ― a Welsh corgi and Pomeranian ― from another shop.
According to the animal protection law, those who kill or abuse animals in cruel ways can face up to two years in prison or fines of up to 20 million won.
The police said they can investigate animal abuse suspicions regardless of whether the shop owner made a complaint.
Amid growing criticism of her act, Lee apologized, adding that she will volunteer at shelters for abandoned dogs.
"I never thought it would die," she said in an interview with local media.
"First of all, I was embarrassed to see a puppy eat its feces and also afraid my other dogs may follow suit. I bought it for emotional stability, but upon witnessing the dog eat poop, I was stressed and tried to get a refund."
However, her apology was not enough to ease public anger. Dozens of petitions were posted on Cheong Wa Dae's website calling for strong punishment, garnering hundreds of signatures.