Over the past week, Humane Society International has shepherded the transport of 26 dogs from South Korea to the United States. It’s been the best kind of whiplash for these pups – rescued from a dog meat farm in Korea and now bound for loving homes here in the United States. It’s the fourth such farm HSI has helped close down just this year.
The dogs – ranging from mastiffs and Jindo mixes to terriers and smaller breed mixes and even a Golden Retriever – are now in the nurturing hands of caretakers at the Washington Animal Rescue League in Washington, D.C. For the first time in their lives they’re getting proper shelter and socialization, heat, nutritious food, and even playtime and toys. All of those circumstances were alien to them just a few days ago, as they huddled together in cold, barren, overcrowded cages with wire flooring on the meat farm, waiting to be yanked out with a wire noose and then put on a chopping block for butchery.
Thousands of dog meat farms exist in South Korea, and we are shining a spotlight on this sordid and ugly industry, especially in the run-up to the 2018 Winter Olympics scheduled for Pyeongchang. Distaste for the dog meat trade is growing inside South Korea, and the presence of such a large industry is a reputational hazard as the world focuses its gaze on the upcoming Olympiad there.
Four of our Emergency Placement Partner shelters — the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria, the Animal Welfare League of Arlington, the Fairfax County Animal Shelter, and the Washington Humane Society – are lined up to help us and WARL find homes for the dogs. Despite their bitter experiences with people, they are happy and trusting. HSI’s Adam Parascandola, director of animal protection and crisis response, recalls how one of the mother dogs, a sweet beagle mix who lived chained in the yard of the dog meat farm, was eager for human attention and always the first to greet the HSI team each time they visited the farm.
“Feeling the chain slip from her neck was one of my favorite memories from this rescue. She will make a wonderful, affectionate, and grateful member of someone’s family,” Adam said.
HSI’s work to end the dog meat trade in other parts of the world continues, including our work with the Asia Canine Protection Alliance (ACPA), which we joined nearly two years ago to combat the dog meat trade in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia, and Laos. The Alliance has so far managed to get in place a five-year ban on the cross-border trade of dogs for meat between all countries. In China, we are supporting numerous local animal welfare organizations to end the dog meat trade there, and we have rescued thousands of dogs from transport vehicles carrying them to slaughterhouses.
As we always do, HSI will also continue to work with the owner of the farm we just closed and follow his progress to ensure he complies with the agreement and does not go back to farming dogs. And in the new year we plan to continue to close down even more dog meat farms in South Korea, as we chip away and seek to end this gruesome trade once and for all.