After a harrowing start in the world, more than 100 dogs once destined for slaughter are starting to arrive in Canada, at a temporary shelter run by Humane Society International/Canada, to start their search for new lives in loving forever homes. Each of these individuals was born to die on dog meat farms in South Korea, but thanks to the persistent work of Humane Society International and our Korean partner groups with whom we work, their fates drastically changed.
We first learned of many of these dogs back in August of last year, when local residents reported hearing harrowing yelps and screams coming from a farm on Jindo Island. This led local authorities to investigate and discover that the farmer had breached the Animal Protection Act by killing dogs in front of each other. Thankfully, when offered the chance to seek an alternative way of making a living, 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.
Since then, for the past several months, these dogs from Jindo Island, along with dogs saved from other farms, have been recovering at HSI’s partner shelter in South Korea. Due to flight restrictions, they were unable to leave South Korea just after their rescue but now they’re free to fly, and they are starting to arrive in Ontario to receive further care at HSI/Canada’s temporary shelter in Cambridge. About 40 dogs will then travel to HSI/Canada’s Montreal facility where partner organizations will assist in their search for adoptive families. The remaining dogs will travel to HSUS’ temporary shelter in Maryland. They are all starting the process of putting their traumatic pasts behind them.
I know the truly haunting sounds that led residents to contact the local authorities and ultimately led to the rescue of these dogs—cries of dogs desperate for help and love. I’ve visited these dog meat farms, and when I’ve looked inside the bare wire cages, the animals who gaze back have always chillingly reminded me of my own dog.
Each of these dogs has the potential to live a fulfilling life as a member of a family, and that motivates us to continue this extremely challenging work—even during the global pandemic.
The stories I hear from rescuers about the moments the dogs are released from their cages are awe-inspiring. Take Kaya, a dog whose cage was located particularly close to the horrific slaughter area: This dog would have no reason to love or trust people, and yet as soon as rescuers approached her cage, her tail started to wag, and all during her rescue she kept asking for human affection.
The resilience of these animals is truly astounding. And it’s for their sakes that I’m so glad that Humane Society International/Korea works with local animal advocates to shutter South Korea’s dog meat farms for good, already closing down 17 other dog meat farms across the country and rescuing nearly 2,500 dogs. Not only that, Humane Society International/Korea is campaigning for legislation in South Korea to end the dog meat industry for good, an initiative in line with public opinion: Polls show that 84% of Koreans don’t or won’t eat dog meat, and there is growing public support (almost 60%) for a ban on dog meat farming in South Korea.
Such a ban can’t come soon enough: There are still an estimated one to two million dogs kept on thousands of dog meat farms across South Korea. But now we can celebrate that 110 of these dogs will never experience that kind of suffering again.
Until dog meat farming is permanently a thing of the past, you can be part of this life-saving work by making a donation.
Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock.