When residents reported hearing harrowing yelps and screams coming from a nearby farm on Jindo Island in South Korea, local authorities investigated. What they found were the typical heart-wrenching scenes of a dog meat farm.
I am acquainted with sounds like these. When I have visited these dog meat farms, the cries of the dogs in bare wire cages are one of the things that haunt me the most. And when I’ve looked into the cages, the animals who gaze back remind me so much of my own dog, Lilly—I know each of these individuals has the potential to live a fulfilling life as a member of a family. And this knowledge is what motivates Humane Society International/Korea to work with local animal advocates to shutter South Korea’s dog meat farms for good, find loving homes for the dogs freed from these places and help farmers identify alternative ways to make a living in a society where fewer people than ever want to eat dogs.
In this particular, the dog farmer also ran a local restaurant where the dogs he’d raised were on the menu. Local authorities found that the farmer had breached the Animal Protection Act by killing dogs in front of each other. Not only this, but rescuers also found a microchip in one of the dogs, which revealed that she had once been named Jinju, meaning “pearl.” The microchip confirmed that she is an official pure Jindo breed, which is considered a national heritage in the country. In fact, the breed has been officially registered as a “Natural Monument” since 1962, which means the dog meat farmer could face additional charges.
Thankfully, when offered the chance to seek an alternative lifestyle to raising dogs for meat, the farmer agreed. He signed a contract with our partner, the Korean animal protection group LIFE, committing to give up dog farming forever and removing dog meat from his restaurant’s menu. With the agreement reached and the contract signed, LIFE and HSI/Korea could begin the emotional and inspiring work of saving these dogs.
Together with LIFE, HSI/Korea’s Nara Kim and other rescuers saved all the dogs and puppies found languishing in small, wire cages. Underscoring the enormity of this change of fate was a large pile of dog collars that rescuers found in the killing area of the farm, each likely taken off a dog who died on site. The 65 rescued dogs will be searching for loving homes where they can live full and happy lives instead of suffering such a horrible end.
Most South Koreans (84%) do not consume dog meat, and more and more people in the country see dogs only as companion animals. An estimated 6.38 million South Korean households lived with companion animals in 2020, equating to 28% of households, according to South Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture. Because of this shift in perception, and a recent announcement by Korea’s Ministry of Justice concerning its intention to amend Article 82 of the Civil Law to grant animals legal status, stating that “animals are not objects,” we are confident that the end is in sight for this industry, and we hope that legislation will soon follow this change in public behavior.
HSI/Korea has closed 17 other dog meat farms in South Korea and is campaigning for legislation in the country to end the dog meat industry. Our team has also promoted alternatives to dog meat, creating vegan versions of a dog meat soup that is consumed by some South Koreans during the summer season.
Conducting these dog meat farm rescues comes with a whole range of complications during the COVID-19 pandemic. Our rescuers followed health and safety restrictions and a veterinarian tested the dogs for canine influenza and administered vaccines for rabies, distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza and Leptospira.
The dogs will be quarantined for at least 30 days before being transported to the U.S. and Canada to seek loving homes. I can imagine no happier ending for these pups.