The pandemic posed many challenges for our Humane Society International staff working to end the dog meat trade in nations where it exists. Travel overseas was difficult if not impossible in most cases, but with millions of dogs still suffering in the dog meat trade, sitting on our hands was not an option. So we pressed on, making sure we observed all necessary safety protocols, as we continued our lifesaving work.
In South Korea, where we have been working to close down dog meat farms and transition farmers to a humane living, our response team spent the required two weeks in quarantine and isolation at a hotel in Seoul before taking to the field to complete their lifesaving mission—the successful closure of a dog meat farm, their 17th. The team transported 170 dogs to new lives filled with hope as cherished companion animals.
We also made progress in our work with local partners to end the dog meat trade in parts of India and China, and we continued to raise awareness and change minds in other nations, too, with the goal of ending the consumption of dog meat.
Here are some of the highlights of the year:
- We shut down two dog meat farms in South Korea and transported more than 260 dogs to the United States and Canada where they were placed for adoption.
- We assisted with the rescue and care of nearly 100 dogs on a South Korean dog meat farm closed down by our local partner group, LIFE.
- The state of Nagaland in India announced an end to the dog meat trade there, sparing the lives of 30,000 dogs a year. HSI conducted two investigations of the dog meat trade in Nagaland over the past five years, which helped significantly shift public sentiment, leading to the ban.
- We assisted in the rescue and care of more than 1,600 dogs from the Chinese dog meat trade with our partner group, Vshine. The dogs are cared for at the Vshine shelter in China and will be made available for adoption. Some of the dogs are headed to the United Kingdom this holiday season for rehoming.
- Following the pandemic, Shenzhen became the first city in mainland China to ban dog and cat meat consumption, followed by the city of Zhuhai. In addition, the Chinese government excluded dogs as animals for “consumption” and announced their close bond to humans as companion animals.
- We worked with partners to collect and submit 220,000 signatures to the Chinese authorities to end the dog meat trade in China.
- Our work to raise awareness among Koreans about the dog meat trade is helping change public opinion on this issue significantly. A poll we conducted this year showed that the number of respondents who support banning dog meat increased from 34.7% in 2017 to 58.6% in 2020. The perception that dog meat consumption reflects poorly on Korea increased from 36.7% to 57%. And the perception that dog meat culture is not associated with modern Korean culture increased from 29.2% to 47.7%. Nearly 84% of all respondents, including those who had and had not consumed dog meat previously, said they were not willing to consume it in the future.
- In South Korea, we ran an online public awareness campaign during Bok Nal, the hottest days of summer, when Koreans consume the most dog meat. Given the popularity of “webtoons” in South Korea, we partnered with two of Korea’s most popular webtoonists, Meongdi, who has over 72,000 followers, and Love doong doong, who has over 290,000 followers. As part of the campaign we showcased some of our amazing ambassador dogs and worked to dispel the widely-held misconception that “meat dogs” are different from “pet dogs”.
The dog meat trade is entrenched in the nations where it now exists, but our campaign is making incredible headway in seeing an end to this cruel trade. In 2021, with your support, we hope to accelerate the pace of progress even further in nations like China, South Korea, India, Vietnam and Indonesia, where we are actively working to end the consumption of dog meat. We will continue our work until the day dog meat is banned globally and this brutal practice becomes a thing of the past.