Humane Society International’s campaign to stop the slaughter of dogs for meat is unremitting, and today we are announcing that 31 dogs on the verge of being butchered after living on a South Korean dog meat farm are bound for the United States.
The dogs arriving today came from an unlicensed and therefore illegal backyard operation in Jeonju in South Korea. Neighbors tipped off the authorities and local activists with help from HSI and Free Korean Dogs intervened to rescue the dogs, giving them the needed veterinary care and vaccinations required to transport them to the United States for adoption. The dogs will go to five of our Emergency Placement Partners in North Carolina, including the Outer Banks SPCA in Manteo, Cashiers-Highlands Humane Society, Moore Humane Society in Carthage, Paws of Bryson City, and Watauga Humane Society in Boone. Pet Dominion in Rockville, Maryland is providing boarding for the dogs en route to North Carolina.
South Korea is the only country in the world where dogs are raised on farms to supply the commercial demand for dog meat. It is estimated that between two and 2.5 million dogs are slaughtered for human consumption in South Korea each year on thousands of dog farms scattered around the country, ranging from small backyard enterprises to large-scale industrialized farms with more than 1,000 dogs.
The dogs suffer misery and privation on the meat farms, as you can see in our new video, “A day in the life of a dog meat dog.” The dogs live in small, barren cages, exposed to extremes of heat and cold, and they’re given meager rations, just enough to survive. Some are housed alone, others in crowded cages. Many suffer from disease, injury, and malnutrition, and all are subject to terrible daily neglect. The meat farms are like puppy mills, but with the purpose of breeding and intentionally slaughtering the dogs and no pretense of proper care.
Since 2014, HSI has closed down a series of dog meat farms, and helped the farmers transition into humane, alternative livelihoods, like growing crops or starting water delivery services. We have brought 526 dogs into the United States and Canada to be adopted, and most have found forever homes with some still up for adoption.
With the Winter Olympics set for South Korea in 2018, we have an opportunity to focus a spotlight on this issue. HSI is creating a public awareness campaign to highlight the cruelty of the dog meat trade, to close the perception within Korea of a “pet dog” versus a “meat dog,” and to promote pet adoption in Korea. Koreans tend to prefer small breed dogs and purebreds, and dogs from meat farms are not considered adoptable.
Here in the United States, many of our Emergency Placement Partner shelters report long lines of potential adopters when the dogs are made available. The attention the Korean dogs bring to the community increases adoption of all dogs and even cats awaiting homes in our partner shelters.
HSI’s work to end the dog meat trade in other countries is also brisk. In 2013, HSI co-founded the Asia Canine Protection Alliance (ACPA) to combat the dog meat trade in Cambodia, Laos, Thailand, and Vietnam. The campaign has secured a five-year moratorium on the cross-border trade of dogs for meat between all of these countries. ACPA is also working with the Vietnamese government to increase public awareness about the risks involved in consuming dog meat, and the direct correlation of the trade in dogs for meat and the spread of rabies.
In China, HSI is partnering with local animal welfare organizations and supporting their efforts in combating the dog meat trade within their own country. Since August 2014, more than 10,000 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 also has a major campaign targeting the cruel Yulin dog meat festival held annually in June in Yulin, China.
Ending the dog meat trade, in so many countries and so far from our base in the United States, is one of the toughest campaigns we’ve ever undertaken. But it’s perhaps the biggest and most barbaric form of companion animal exploitation in the world, and that means we’ve got to confront it. We’ll not rest until we win. At every step, we’ll need your help.