HSI rescues 50 dogs from South Korea meat trade before summer slaughter begins

By on June 11, 2018 with 9 Comments

For 50 dogs raised on a dog meat farm in South Korea, this will be a summer of hope instead of terror. This week, Humane Society International began pulling the dogs out of the farm just before the start of the Bok Nal summer season, when dogs are brutally slaughtered, cooked and eaten. The dogs at this farm would have met the same fate, but instead they will now head to new lives filled with hope in Canada.

This is the 12th dog meat farm that HSI has closed down permanently in South Korea. The dogs were living in squalid and desperate conditions. It’s been very warm in Korea and they were locked up in metal cages, exposed to the elements, their days filled with exhausting heat, boredom and frustration from living in cramped quarters with other dogs and sitting among their own feces. Some dogs had extensive scars and injuries from fighting with their cage mates.

Some of the dogs clearly are abandoned pets with their collars still on. The animals were fearful but elated to see our team, jumping in their cages with enthusiastic, wagging tails.

Among the rescued dogs is Kaya, a sweet Jindo mix with beautiful little puppies she’s fiercely devoted to. When our rescuers approached Kaya, she immediately started wagging her tail and doing little, excited jumps to greet them. Photo by Jean Chung/For HSI

For our team, it is an experience just as exhilarating and emotional.

As HSI’s Director of Animal Protection and Crisis Response Adam Parascandola, who is on the ground for the rescue, told me, “It’s terrible to see the conditions the animals are living in, but it’s also a great feeling to know this farm is closing for good and these dogs will have the lives they deserve with loving families very soon.”

Many of the dogs are suffering from painful skin diseases and swollen paws, but they are now receiving medical attention and are on the road to recovery. What is incredibly touching to see is how deeply they crave human companionship, despite their experiences. Among the dogs we rescued is Louis a cocker spaniel who we believe is an abandoned pet dog. Louis’s fur was matted and he looked sad and forlorn when we found him, but our rescuers could see he craved affection and he, in turn, showered them with love. There’s George, Louis’s cagemate, a sweet, happy, short-legged black dog who looks like a little lion with a furry mane and very intense eyes. George too was very likely an abandoned pet. He adores attention and will often bark and wiggle his little body and tail to get you to look his way. Louis and George were always sitting together in their cage, their bodies intertwined, touching paws as if to comfort each other.

Related: As world watches Pyeongchang, HSI focuses attention on Korea’s grisly dog meat trade

Also among the rescued dogs is Kaya, a sweet Jindo mix, with beautiful little puppies she’s fiercely devoted to. When our rescuers approached Kaya, she immediately started wagging her tail and doing little, excited jumps to greet them.

It is estimated that 30 million dogs like Louis, George and Kaya are brutally killed and eaten each year for their meat in parts of Asia, including China, Vietnam, Indonesia and India. While some countries and territories, including Hong Kong, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore, have dog meat bans or restrictions in place, in South Korea the dog meat trade exists in limbo – neither legal nor illegal. It is estimated that 2.5 million dogs are raised for their meat each year in South Korea, most being killed by electrocution or hanging when they are just a year old. About one million dogs are killed during the Bok Nal summer season alone.

HSI’s Lola Webber, left, and Nara Kim with Louis, left, and George. The two dogs, both believed to be abandoned pets, were cagemates at the dog meat farm and would sit together with paws touching, to comfort each other. Photo by Jean Chung/For HSI

South Korea is unique in that it is the only nation in which thousands of commercial farmers actually raise dogs for human consumption. The approach we have taken here is multi-pronged: we conduct public awareness campaigns, lobby local and central governments to end the dog meat trade, and we conduct grassroots work to save animals, shutter farms, and help the farmers transition to humane livelihoods – a model that we hope the South Korean government will adopt to phase out this cruel trade.

Over the last three years, we have rescued more than 1,300 animals from South Korean dog meat farms and turned the world’s eye on this inhumane trade.

For the closure of this farm, located in Namyangiu-si in South Korea’s Gyeonggi-do province, HSI worked with the farmer to transition him into an expansion of his water parsley business. The life of a dog farmer is too hard and his business had been dwindling, he told HSI staff who worked with him on the closure. “I just don’t need this in my life any more. It is much better to stop farming dogs, I will be relieved for it to end.”

The HSI Animal Rescue Team loads the rescued dogs onto a truck. The dogs will be flown to Canada to lead new lives filled with hope. Photo by Jean Chung/For HSI

Most Koreans do not regularly eat dog meat, and the practice is increasingly on the decline among younger people. Most Koreans have no idea about the conditions the dogs are raised in. Our Seoul-based campaigners will use the heart-wrenching images of the dogs at the farm to raise awareness as summer approaches and dog meat soup appears on menus more than usual.

The road ahead in South Korea is long and arduous with millions of dogs trapped in dog meat farms. But changing trends within the country with respect to animal welfare, and the decline in the consumption of dog meat, signal real hope. South Korea’s President Moon Jae-In is himself a dog lover who recently adopted a dog who was fated to end up on a dog meat farm. President Moon also recently proposed amending South Korea’s Constitution to include respect for animal welfare. The tide is quickly changing in South Korea on the dog meat issue, and we soon hope to see the day when dogs will no longer suffer on meat farms and the trade will come to its permanent end.

P.S. Last week, HSI/India rescued 35 dogs who were on their way to slaughter in Aizawl in northeast India. We mobilized after learning that two trucks were carrying the dogs and succeeded in stopping them with help from the local police. The dogs were in bad shape, with many running a high fever, and one dog had already died. We now have temporary custody of the dogs and we will do everything possible to ensure a safe and secure future for these animals.

Ask South Korea to ban the slaughter of dogs for meat

Animal Rescue and Care, Companion Animals, Humane Society International

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  1. jenn pease says:

    Thank you foe saving these dogs from an ultimate horror. I can’t believe this dog slaughter is even legal because of the brutality involved.

    Please keep saving them !!!

  2. Ep says:

    Dogs are a gift to people in life. Please continue to save these innocent dogs. They are the equivalent of a 3-year old child their entire life.

  3. Animallovercentral says:

    I am so greatful and thankful to you! Not only for hsi u.s.a but for hsi international! I follow each and every story from them and watch the videos on the farms they rescue the animals from and the sense of…. udder peace comes to me each time they show the enitre farms cages empty and then torn down… i cry with happiness and relief! They do usually take a certain amount off the farm and then return the next day or for a few days to continue to remove all the dogs… i still am tense and very fearful in that time that a few would go missing from the farm before hsi could get there to finish removing them all! I know its never happened as they sign legally binding contracts with hsi, (the farmers do! ☺). They were being brought to Canada which for me, is nothing short of a wonderful blessing! I live in Ontario, Canada… 7 full hours out of Ontario and into Quebec, and id be right at headquarters! I cannot wait to find out where they will be sent in ontario, around ontario making it easier for the residents to adopt them, part of me says not to wait- to instead, once again make the trip back to Quebec to pick 4 to 6 dogs to bring home after officially approved by them via the application process! Id like to also be a foster parent to them as well! Id love the mom and her puppies or a pregnant female, a male and female and puppies or 3 males, 3 females or 6 females or 6 males it doesnt matter t me in any way! Im proud to be canadian at the moment simply because this is my shot to do what ive always dreamed of and wanted to do…. rescue precious animals from the dcmt…. meaning, adopt 6 precious babies, foster others and allow more rescued from the dcmt in the future to live with me as a foster mom or, if i fall in love with them, a new mom! (I automatically fall in love with each dog, puppy, cat and kitten i see and wish to provide for them!

    • Faith Collins says:

      You’re blessed Animallovercentral for your love and compassion for these precious precious animals who have suffered in ways we will never know. Thank you for your devotion to these animals we all love people like you who are able to help with these animals after they are rescued Id love to come and visit Canada one day again Ive been to Vancouver and Victoria when I lived in Seattle but nowhere else. Take care okay

  4. Regina Creech says:

    I have respect for all animals and abhor the torture of any animal. I have read a lot about the farms and can’t believe the torture these dogs endure. My dream is that Korea will stop the dog farms and come to appreciate the joy of a dog. God bless the people who help all animals! The animals need our help! Thank you!

  5. Salli says:

    Hi bless you all for what you do. I have a question how do you decide on which dog should be rescued

  6. Christine Smith says:

    What about the cats?? I never read anything about cats being rescued!! They go through just as much horror as do the dogs!!! It’s only fair to save them too!!!!

  7. Jane phillips says:

    I wish all dogs in South Korea were saved it is a harsh way to go for those beautiful animals they are only loaned to us I think that if those evil people that hurt these precious bundles they should be starved and put in a cage. Then they would know what it was like I think they are barbaric there is no reason on earth that they should be so cruel to them. It’s the 21st century stop it for good I cry every day and pray it stops soon . I give as much money as I can but I feel it’s not enough please please stop it soon. I’m glad they have someone like you to help them it must be heartbreaking to see the poor animals in such a state it must turn your stomach sometimes keep up the good work.

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