South Korean animal rights groups have accused impeached President Park Geun-hye of abandoning her dogs when she left the presidential palace.
The row comes as Park Geun-hye was called for questioning and named as a suspect in the wide-ranging corruption scandal that eventually led to her downfall.
The ousted leader was dismissed from her post last week when the constitutional court upheld her impeachment.
South Korea will hold its presidential election on May 9.
Park Geun-hye is South Korea’s first democratically elected leader to be ousted.
Over the weekend she left the presidential palace, known as the Cheong Wa Dae, and moved into her house in an affluent district of Seoul.
Park Geun-hye’s nine Jindo dogs were not among the entourage that accompanied her.
The Busan Korea Alliance for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals (Busan KAPCA) noted the impeached president could have violated animal protection laws by leaving the dogs behind.
The group, along with the Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE), claimed Park Geun-hye had abandoned her pets, and both organizations offered to find new homes for the dogs.
A Cheong Wa Dae spokesman denied Park Geun-hye had abandoned her dogs, and told Reuters that they were left at the palace partly because it would not be good for them to be uprooted from their home.
“She told… staff to take good care of the dogs and to find good foster homes for the puppies if necessary,” said the spokesman.
Park Geun-hye was known to be fond of her pets, which had been dubbed the country’s “First Dogs,” the Korea Times reported.
When Park Geun-hye was inaugurated as president in 2013, she moved into Cheong Wa Dae with a pair of Jindo dogs which were given to her as a present.
The pair later produced several puppies, some of whom she kept while others were adopted. Jindo dogs are known for their loyalty and devotion.
South Korea has been run by PM Hwang Kyo-ahn since parliament voted to impeach Park Geun-hye in December.
The date for the next presidential election was set at a cabinet meeting on March 15.
At that meeting, Hwang Kyo-ahn said he would not run in the election, dealing a blow to conservatives looking for viable candidates, reported Yonhap news agency.
Park Geun-hye has also been summoned by prosecutors for questioning on March 21 over her alleged involvement in the corruption scandal surrounding presidential aide Choi Soon-sil.
She is accused of colluding with Choi Soon-sil in extorting large amounts of money and favors from conglomerates.
Park Geun-hye has denied all accusations and refused previous requests to take part in investigations.