Editor’s note: This post has been updated with a link to the HSI news release with a list of the shelters where the dogs are going.
Our Humane Society International team has closed down yet another dog meat farm in South Korea, once again becoming the architect of a dramatic turnaround in the fortunes of dogs doomed to die miserably for the meat trade. This week, 200 dogs — once destined for the butcher’s block after having spent their lives in filthy, cramped, overcrowded cages — are on their way to safer confines in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, where they will be rehabilitated and then placed for adoption.
This latest rescue occurred in the Gangwon province, which is hosting the 2018 Winter Olympics. With this rescue, we draw continuing attention to the cruelty of this trade as part of our campaign to convince the South Korean government to support a phase-out of the dog meat trade ahead of the Olympics. Attitudes there toward dogs are changing for the better, and so many of the farmers want out of the bloody business. In fact, the owner of this farm approached HSI after being urged by her daughter to give up the dog meat business and transition to another line of work.
HSI has now rescued a total of 770 dogs from Korea’s farms since January 2015. As with all our previous farm closures, we will help the farmer transition to a more humane trade. But there are thousands of such farms across the country and it is estimated that between 2 million and 2.5 million dogs are slaughtered for human consumption in the country each year. We cannot shut down every farm and bring the dogs to other nations, but we can act as a catalyst for changes in attitudes and public policy. We’re seeing local government officials recognize that the dog meat farms are bringing nothing but bad publicity. South Korea’s status as the only country where dogs are farmed commercially for their meat makes the country something of an outlier and puts its reputation at risk, especially as the world turns its attention to the coming Olympic games there.
Last month, the city of Seongnam announced the closure of the country’s largest dog meat market and – in a model very similar to the one HSI has been using — will give financial support to the dog meat vendors at the market to refurbish their shops for new businesses. Yet there is still a widespread misconception that farmed dogs are somehow different from companion dogs, and we are working to dispel that myth through our education campaigns.
The dogs we have rescued belong to several breeds, including cocker spaniels, English spaniels, beagles, and Pyrenees as well as breeds more commonly found on meat farms, like mastiffs and Jindos. As you can see in this live video HSI streamed on Facebook, these are amazing dogs who will make wonderful companion animals, and we are thrilled to give them a chance at a better life.
Once the dogs arrive here in the United States, they will be taken to animal shelters participating in our Emergency Placement Partner program and will be placed for adoption as family pets in loving homes. The shelters are located in Florida, Ohio, Oklahoma, and Virginia, among other states. A list of all shelters is available here.