This week, we turned around the fortunes of 57 dogs set to be butchered after a short, brutish life on a dog meat farm in South Korea, and shepherded them to the United States. They’ll be treated and cared for at the East Bay SPCA, Marin Humane Society, Sacramento SPCA, and San Francisco SPCA, before being adopted out to loving homes. Among the group were beagles, poodles, Korean Jindos and large Tosas who have spent their entire lives in small, filthy, crowded cages, waiting to be killed. As they arrived in San Francisco, tails wagged, barking resumed and many kisses were given. The smallest gesture of affection was met with unbridled enthusiasm. These lucky 57, including adorable pups like Elly in this video, should never lack again for any human kindness.
For our Humane Society International staff rescuers, who worked tirelessly to spare them a gruesome fate, this is the latest action in a campaign to rid South Korea of thousands of dog farms and end the practice of putting dogs on the butcher’s block. We intend to bring a relentless focus to this campaign.
South Korea is the only country in the world where dogs are raised for their meat, and HSI staff members have been reaching out to Korean dog meat farmers to assist in transitioning their farms to other pursuits, like crop growing, permanently. With the 2018 Winter Olympics scheduled for Pyeongchang, South Korea, and a growing distaste of the trade both within and outside the country, we see a good opportunity for focused attention on the dog meat trade. Our primary strategic goal is to get the South Korean government – a democratic government with a remarkable record of economic and social progress — on board with assisting farmers to make the change into alternative, more humane trades.
This is the second dog meat operation HSI has helped shut down. In January, we helped one dog meat farmer transition his full property into a blueberry farm and brought all 23 dogs from the farm into the United States. All of those dogs are now with new families or undergoing rehabilitation with HSI’s emergency partner shelters.
The 57 dogs rescued this time came from a larger property. The farmer agreed to permanently shut down his farm and change to agricultural crop growing. As part of the plan, all 57 dogs were relinquished to HSI to be rehomed in Korea and in the United States. This farmer has also agreed to act as a spokesperson against the dog meat trade, on the ground in Korea, and introduce HSI to other dog meat farmers interested in transitioning to other livelihoods.
HSI’s work to end the dog meat trade in other parts of the world also continues with equal determination. We joined the Asia Canine Protection Alliance (ACPA) nearly two years ago to combat the dog meat trade in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. The campaign has been successful and we managed to get in place a five-year ban on the cross-border trade of dogs for meat between all countries.
In China, HSI is guiding and supporting numerous local animal welfare organizations in addressing the dog meat trade there. Since August 2014, over 8,000 dogs have been rescued from large transport vehicles carrying hundreds of captured dogs in crowded cages to their deaths at various slaughterhouses in the country. HSI is also assisting with the language and submission of the first animal welfare law in China.
In South Korea, there is a tendency to keep only purebred dogs as pets and there is little interest in adopting “meat” dogs. We are focusing on a public awareness campaign to close the gap in perception between a “pet dog” and a “meat dog” – something that is already happening with the increase in the pet industry throughout Asia. We are hopeful that given the growing dislike of the dog meat trade in South Korea, and the uncovering of the cruelty and unsanitary nature of this industry, more and more Koreans will soon start to speak out for an end to this practice
We’ll be pushing for that kind of lasting change, and in the short run, working to save every dog we can.