Our rescue efforts continue for dogs destined for the butcher’s block in South Korea. Today, 12 recently rescued dogs are on the final leg of their journey into loving homes, prepped to start new lives that will bear almost no resemblance to their recent circumstances.
The dogs were part of a backyard breeding operation in Seongnam, South Korea, and had spent their lives living in filth on short chains, with almost no space to move around. Now, thanks to the work of Humane Society International and our partners who rescued and transported them over the Memorial Day weekend, they will soon prance into their forever homes.
The dogs are now at the Idaho Humane Society, an HSUS Emergency Placement Partner, which will socialize them to get them ready for adoption. They were transported to Boise with the help of Dog is My CoPilot, Inc., a non-profit animal rescue air transportation organization. One other dog rescued from the backyard breeder will go to the San Francisco SPCA. A 14th dog was also rescued along with her puppies, all of whom will remain with her for now in Seoul at a boarding facility.
This is HSI’s eighth dog meat farm closure in Korea, and to date we have rescued 839 dogs from South Korea’s dog meat trade. While these dogs represent a small subset of the animals at risk, every one of them matters to us. And, when it comes to the larger problem, a growing number of breeders and farmers are seeking us out to secure our help in closing their operations and transitioning to new livelihoods, signaling that many people involved in this business recognize it as a moral problem and even a shameful occupation. The latest breeder we worked with had sold his dogs in the past to Moran Market in Seongnam, but had trouble selling them over the last two years due to declining demand. Seongnam city officials, in December last year, decided to close down Moran Market’s dog meat section, the largest in the country, and transition traders to other livelihoods.
Most people in South Korea don’t regularly eat dogs, and the practice is increasingly falling out of favor with the younger generation. That’s why we are also focusing on a public awareness campaign to highlight the cruelty of the dog meat trade and to educate people that there is no difference between a “pet dog” and a “meat dog,” so more Koreans will open their homes and hearts to dogs from dog meat farms.
Last month, we received news that dog meat sales would likely be banned at the globally infamous dog meat festival in Yulin, China. Here in the United States, U.S. Representatives Alcee L. Hastings, D-Fla., Vern Buchanan, R-Fla., Dave Trott, R-Mich. and Brendan Boyle, D-Pa., have introduced the Dog and Cat Meat Prohibition Act of 2017, to ban the dog and cat meat trade in the United States. In addition to legislating dog meat trading and eating out of existence in the United States, the legislation also serves as an expression of solidarity with animal activists in Asia, including South Korea, who are fighting the trade in their own countries.
Given the scale of South Korea’s dog meat farm industry, only a government-led phase-out of dog meat farming and consumption can effectively and permanently eliminate this cruel trade. With Pyeongchang hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics, the Korean government is aware of the international spotlight that will settle upon the country in the months leading up to the event. And adding to the pressure, Pyeongchang is in Gangwon province, where many dog meat farms are located.
Dog by dog, and person by person, we are committed to ending the dog meat trade everywhere. Today’s rescue of a dozen dogs is a reason for celebration and a continued reminder of who and what is at stake.