HSI closes 10th dog meat farm in Korea, rescuing 170 dogs

By on November 30, 2017 with 22 Comments By Wayne Pacelle

We’re back at it in South Korea, saving dogs from the worst imaginable circumstances on meat farms and starting them on a journey that will turn their lives in the most dramatic ways. It’s the 10th dog meat farm we’ve cleaned out since we started our End Dog Meat campaign.

It is estimated that each year more than two million dogs are bred on thousands of dog meat farms in South Korea for human consumption. This week, we are rescuing 170 of those animals from an unthinkable fate. Soon, we’ll fly them to the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom where they will be placed with our Emergency Placement Partner shelters and rescues and will receive the care and love they so deserve.

The dog meat farm in Namyangju, South Korea, is typical of these sordid enterprises. The golden retrievers, spaniels, beagles, greyhounds, Korean jindos, mastiffs, and other breeds we found had never received any veterinary care, and many suffer from eye infections, skin diseases, and painful leg and paw sores from days of standing and sitting on the metal wires and bars that make up the flooring of their cages. Conditions only get worse in winter when the metal is freezing to the touch, hurting the dogs’ sensitive paws even more.

At the dog meat farm, the dogs lived in a mish-mash of cages, many hidden behind stacks of wooden and metal debris. The cages were piled high with feces, and there were absolutely no barriers from the cold wind that blows through the farm during Korea’s harsh winters. Photo by Jean Chung/For HSI

Kelly O’Meara, HSI senior director of companion animals and engagement, is on the ground in Korea now, and in an email she described the farm as a mish-mash of cages spread throughout the property, many hidden behind stacks of wooden and metal debris. The dogs lived in cages piled high with feces, and there were absolutely no barriers from the cold wind that blows through the farm during Korea’s harsh winters.

Despite their debilitating circumstances, many of the dogs showed incredible resilience and a loving attitude toward humans. Mia, a beautiful golden retriever who will soon be in the United States, jumped up and gave our team members what has since become her signature “dog hug,” when she was first allowed out of her cage. Leila, a jindo mix, melts into a pool of mush in the laps of our caregivers each time they visit her, showing them her belly for petting. Angel, a mastiff mix, leans into her visitors and snuggles as close as she can while being petted.

Limited by the space available on airlines willing to transport them, the dogs are now patiently awaiting their turn to get off the farm and head to their new lives overseas. Our team members visit with each of them daily and have offered as much comfort as possible during the process of closure. We have provided straw bedding in each cage to give them some insulation from the cold, and it’s amazing to behold. Something as simple as straw in their cages has them playing and romping around, digging their noses into the first element of enrichment and comfort they have ever received in their metal prisons. As one rescue team member said, “There is little reward as wonderful as watching a dog snuggle into a bed of straw and feel the first warmth and comfort in their life.”

Something as simple as straw in their cages has the dogs playing and romping around, digging their noses into the first element of enrichment and comfort they have ever received in their metal prisons. Photo by Jean Chung/For HSI

The HSI rescue is happening just 10 weeks shy of the 2018 Winter Olympics, which will be hosted by South Korea. As the world’s attention focuses on this event, we also hope to turn the spotlight on the suffering of companion animals in South Korea’s dog meat farms. This is a grim, shocking, and largely hidden side of South Korea that stands in stark contrast to the colorful pomp and ceremony we will no doubt witness at the Olympic festivities, and one that a growing number of South Koreans believe has no place in their modern, progressive society.

HSI has been working for nearly three years now in South Korea to close dog meat farms, and for some very elderly dog farmers, HSI intervention has meant that they can finally retire without having to sell their dogs for slaughter. Other farmers have worked with HSI to devise a business plan to transition to alternative, humane livelihoods such as water delivery or crop farming.

The owner of this dog meat farm in Namyangju will now grow vegetables on his land, instead of breeding dogs.

Leila, pictured above with HSI’s South Korea Campaign Manager Nara Kim, melts into a pool of mush in the laps of her caregivers each time they visit her, showing them her belly for petting. Photo by Jean Chung/For HSI

As gratifying as it is to rescue each animal from their misery, we are also aware that given the large number of dog meat farms in Korea, we cannot tackle this problem entirely on our own. What we hope to do is provide the government of South Korea with a blueprint to help dog meat farmers transition out of this gruesome trade and into more humane livelihoods. We also are working on legislation that seeks to phase out and end this terrible business once and for all.

Increasingly we find that young Koreans are rejecting eating dogs. Most South Koreans don’t regularly eat dog meat and oppose the practice. South Korean President Moon Jae-in has adopted a dog named Tory who was said to be rescued from a dog meat farm. Besides closing dog meat farms, HSI is raising awareness among South Koreans and earlier this year we took our campaign against dog meat to the streets of Seoul, with posters on subways and a virtual reality experience showing life on a dog meat farm.

“Eating dog is already a declining habit in South Korea, but if people could see the sorrow of these dogs and the disgusting unhygienic conditions in which they’re raised,” Nara Kim, HSI’s South Korea Campaign Manager, told me, “I think even more people would stop eating them.”

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Companion Animals, Humane Society International

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  1. Lynn Fraser says:

    Thank you for rescue of these dogs..dog is not meant for human consumption they are intelligent domesticated animals. Need to stop inhumane abuse.

  2. Charlene says:

    Thank you for saving these precious animals and giving them a chance to do what they were created to do, which is to warm the hearts of those who love them . I would really love to adopt some of these dogs let me know if any are coming to Minnesota.

  3. Barbara Carrino says:

    They are Barbaric the a Koreans act like they have no other meat to eat! Come on it’s the 21 st Century’s time to bring Korean outta the Dog Dark Age . Free our Animals DOGS & CATS BARBARIANS

    • Amy says:

      Stop being racist. The majority of Koreans shun dog meat, and many follow the Buddhist tradition of veganism.

    • Ana says:

      Yes, this is the 21st century, no animal should be eaten. People who eat any animal, any type of meat, aren’t any better than Koreans, they are as barbaric as Koreans.

  4. Carol Richman says:

    Thanks are not enough! Will share/donate. 🐶😄

  5. Melissa says:

    It is ironic that South Korea wants the adoration of its people when .many of the younger aged population does not practice eating dog or using for immoral purpose.
    Are they living in the 21st century or maybe change is too much for the farmers.

  6. Joy Anna Mercedes says:

    Wow!!! Thank you for your god work!!!! I think the part about how the farmer will be able to make a good living without raising dogs for this purpose is important. As a person who had been around dogs all my life I consider them to be one of the most wonderful amazing creatures around. I am deeply disturbed by inhumane/cruel treatment of anyone or anything on this planet. I own a Real estate brokerage in the S.F Bay area and we donate to our client’s favorite charity from our commissions. Buyers or sellers of homes doesn’t matter. I pledge that anyone who comes to me from HSUS or any other shelter throughout the country we will donate 5% of our commissions directly as non-restricted funds to be used to help end the pain suffering and injustice that exists and that is hidden from view–let’s bring it into the light and build the movement for compassion, empathy, responsibility and love. Please contact me at your earliest convenience—we will partner with brokers and agents in any state and hopefully take this to an international level!510-502-7811USA

  7. Danielle Roth says:

    I think we are the proud new owners of Mia. The golden retriever in the photo with Kelly OMeara. I would love to know anything you may know about her. We have learned her signature hug. She is absolutely the most precious angel we could’ve hoped for. We are all cuddled in bed together in Las Vegas, NV. Golden’s Without Borders picked her up in LA and drove her out to us. The best Christmas present ever.

  8. John Stram says:

    Why isn’t anyone rescuing pigs? Or cows. Both kind of animal have been proven just as intelligent as dogs.

    • Allen says:

      I guess it is kind of like a ‘baby steps’ thing. We need to get people to treat animals they generally see as ‘intelligent’ or ‘caring’ in an ethical/humane way before we can convince them that all animals (and especially the kinds we use for food) deserve a certain level of respect and care. We have to start small though.

  9. BJ says:

    Thank you for your awesome work in rescuing these terrified and traumatized innocent dogs. Such a gruesome, horrific industry that is allowed to go on in nations such as Korea, Vietnam, China and Thailand. The killers of these innocent ones are devoid of a conscience, heartless and evil to be able to treat God’s creation in ways that are beyond comprehension. Thank you for going to the front lines of this evil and snatching those that you have been able to save from such horror. God bless you all for your compassion, skill and commitment to saving these awesome animals!

  10. Gabby says:

    A veterinarian’s input: While this has nothing to do with my opinion about eating meat, or dog meat in general, I do have concerns about bringing these dogs to the US. Currently there are no regulations other than rabies vaccinations for these animals. There are multiple diseases, which are endemic to SE Asia, South Korea included that can be brought to the US and propagated here. One such disease is canine Influenza. We cannot say for sure, but we suspect there have been multiple occasions in which this disease was transmitted from a South Korean dog stimulating outbreaks in the US. There should be quarantine protocols in place from dogs coming in from out of country, but there are not. There have been incidents of animals with falsified health documents that have transmitted diseases such as rabies once in the US.

    The other consideration is the thousands of dogs in the US that need to be rescued as well. We euthanize millions of dogs each year just because they don’t have a home. We should be focusing our efforts on the animals here before extending our services so far out of country.

  11. Gabby says:

    I noticed that my comment was deleted. It was a disagreement, as stated in your commenting policy, which is acceptable. It was not inflammatory.

    A veterinarian’s perspective: This post in no way relates to my opinions on eating meat, or dog meat farms. There needs to be careful consideration into the importing of these animals to the United States. Currently there are no regulations, except for the rabies vaccine, that evaluates the health of an animal being imported. There are several diseases endemic to S.E. Asia, South Korea included that are endemic to those regions that can be propagated in the US, such as Influenza. We cannot confirm but are suspicious that Canine Influenza has infiltrated the US on several different occasions on animals coming from these areas. While I applaud your efforts to end dog meat farming, it should be done through education and not importation of dogs until we have established quarantine protocols before and after transit. Zoos and Aquariums do this to prevent disease introduction into their collections when animals are relocated.

    There are also millions of of dogs euthanized each year here in the United States because they don’t have homes. We should continue our educational outreach in SE Asia and rescue the dogs at home.

  12. Monni says:

    Thanks you for rescued all dogs and bring home and love !! Stop it and banned South Korea period and world !!!. Amen

  13. Monni says:

    Support all dogs and pay and show love !! Save all dogs the world !!.

  14. Barbara pezzengrilli says:

    People you see the work they are doing. Pease donate. They cannot do this work without funds.

  15. Alice Kapchonick says:

    Will Mia be available for adoption? I am interested.

  16. Susan Cummings says:

    How can someone find out how to adopt one of the dogs when they get to the US?

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