An animal abuse case against a renowned veterinary professor based at Seoul National University, who allegedly conducted illegal experiments on a cloned dog, has been sent to the prosecution.
The Seoul Gwanak Police Station said Tuesday that it had referred Lee Byeong-chun’s case to the prosecution, recommending that he be charged with violating the Animal Protection Act. The animal keeper at Lee’s lab and an owner of a dog farm, suspected of providing Lee with dogs for experiments, were also referred to the prosecution.
Cloned dog Mei before, left, and after undergoing experiments at professor Lee Byeong-chun`s lab. (Beagle Rescue Network)
In April, the Beagle Rescue Network filed a complaint with the prosecution, alleging that Lee had abused a retired sniffer dog named Mei by conducting unethical experiments that violated basic rules of conduct in animal testing. The group accused the researcher of intentionally starving Mei and depriving her of water, leading to her death.
Mei was handed over to Lee’s laboratory in March 2018 after retiring from Incheon International Airport, where she had worked for five years. She was returned to the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency last November, but died three months later.
According to the group’s complaint, when the beagle arrived at the quarantine agency last year, her body was so gaunt that her ribs were visible and she seemed to be on the verge of starving to death.
Following the revelation by the dog rescue team, Seoul National University ordered the suspension of Lee’s research into the development of a smart detection dog and relieved Lee of his post as the head of Institute of Laboratory Animal Resources. The alleged abuse of Mei and several other cloned dogs were said to have occurred during the research on smart detection dogs.
In addition to the allegations of cruelty, the Animal Protection Act includes provisions that animals cannot be used for experiments if they have performed services for people or the government.
By Choi Ji-won (firstname.lastname@example.org)