South Korea is the only country in Asia where dogs are routinely and intensively farmed for human consumption. An estimated 2 million are kept in around 17,000 facilities, left exposed to the elements in small, barren, filthy cages and given little food. Many suffer from disease and malnutrition and all are subjected to terrible, daily neglect or even deliberate cruelty. The methods used to kill the dogs are brutal—electrocution is most common. They are slaughtered in full view of other dogs, and their final moments are painful and terrifying.
Our ultimate goal is a ban on the dog meat trade, and our dog meat farm closures are part of a strategy to create the right political and societal circumstances to make this possible. One of the critical factors in achieving political support is showing that the dog meat trade can be successfully phased out in cooperation instead of conflict with the dog meat farmers, so we are working together with those who are eager to leave the dog meat trade to shut down their operations and transition to humane livelihoods.
All the dogs we have rescued have been flown to the U.S., UK and Canada because at present in South Korea there is insufficient widespread acceptance of dog adoption, particularly for large-size dogs. There is also a misconception that “meat dogs” are different from “pet dogs”; this is something that we hope to change through public education and our hundreds of adoption stories that clearly show this is not the case.
Farm closure one took place in January 2015; HSI managed the rescue of the farmer’s 23 dogs, closed his dog farming operation and supported his switch to a full scale blueberry farm. All 23 dogs were flown to the USA, divided among five Washington DC area shelters, and have been adopted into loving homes as family pets. Many of them act as ambassadors for our campaign.
Farm closure two took place in March 2015 in Hongseong, this time rescuing all 60 dogs—a mixture of breeds including beagles, poodles, Korean Jindos and large Tosas. Once again, the farmer ended dog meat farming for good. Tae Hyung Lee had bred dogs for meat for 20 years; facing criticism from family members for his participation in this trade, he was eager to work with HSI to close his farm and start a new business. All but two of the 60 dogs now live in the US, in loving, caring environments, with two (a mother and pup poodle) happily adopted in South Korea.
Farm closure three in September 2015 was our largest yet, rescuing all 123 dogs from a farm in Chungcheongnam-do. All 123 dogs—a mixture of breeds ranging from the large mastiffs most often considered as “meat dogs” in South Korea, to Jindo mixes, Spaniel mixes and Chihuahuas—were transported to shelters in California, Oregon, San Francisco and Washington State in the USA.
Farm closure four was in December 2015, rescuing 27 dogs and puppies from a small “starter” dog meat farm in South Korea. The dogs were flown to the USA and divided among five area shelters for care and adoption.
Farm closure five: This was a rescue conducted in two parts, in total rescuing 267 dogs. Part one took place in February 2016, rescuing 50 dogs from a dog meat farm in Wonju; part two took place in April 2016, rescuing the remaining 217 dogs. The dogs from this farm are a mixture of breeds including Husky, Labrador, Golden Retriever, Mastiff and Jindo mixes.
Chicken Farm Dog Rescue: In July 2016, Humane Society International worked with Free Korean Dogs to assist a local activist called Jinoak in South Korea with the re-homing dogs who had been rescued from a dog meat farm. Jinoak had discovered the dog meat farm containing 51 dogs, bought them from the farmer, and built a shelter to house the dogs. With assistance from Free Korean Dogs, Jinoak placed some of the dogs for adoption, and HSI stepped in to help re-home the remaining dogs. HSI’s partner shelter in Helena Montana in the United States—Lewis and Clark Humane Society—agreed to take the dogs. One dog found an adopter online and was flown directly to Toronto to his new home.
Jeonju Farm Dog Rescue: In September 2016, HSI worked again with Free Korean Dogs to rescue 31 dogs from a dog meat farm after Korean authorities ordered the farm to shut down for operating illegally without a license. HSI assisted with re-homing five of the dogs.
Farm closure six: In January 2017, HSI closed down a farm in Wonju and rescued all 219 dogs, flown to the USA, Canada and UK for adoption. The farmer, a mother with a teenage daughter, was keen to leave the trade and move to the city to start a better life for herself and her child.
Farm closure seven: In March 2017, HSI closed down a farm in Goyang and rescued all 67 dogs, flown to the USA for adoption. The elderly farmer and his wife were keen to retire due to age, ill health and their increasing unease at breeding dogs for eating—in fact the farmer had stopped selling his dogs for slaughter and stopped eating dog himself.
Farm closure eight: In June 2017, 16 dogs were rescued by HSI from a small backyard breeding operation in Seongnam (total includes two puppies born to one of the mama dogs shortly after we rescued her). The owner bred the dogs to sell to a nearby dog meat market. The dogs will all find forever homes in the USA.
Farm closure nine: In July 2017, HSI closed down a dog farm in Yesan and rescued all 149 dogs from the property, including 14 newborn pups, all of whom will fly for adoption to the USA..
Farm closure ten: In November/December 2017, HSI closed down a dog meat farm in Namyangju with more than 170 dogs, who were flown to the USA, Canada and the UK to find new homes.
Farm closure eleven: In March 2018, HSI closed down a small dog meat farm in Gyeonggi-do province, with more than 80 dogs and puppies flown to Canada.
Farm closure twelve: In June 2018, HSI reached an agreement with a farmer in Namyangju-si, Gyeonggi-do to remove the last 50 dogs from his dog meat farm before he shut it down to expand his more profitable water parsley business. We flew the dogs to Canada to start their new lives.
Farm closure thirteen: In October, 2018, we worked with Farmer Lee in Gyeonggi-do, South Korea to shut down his dog meat farm after 14 years, rescuing 200 dogs and flying them to partner shelters in the U.S., the U.K., Canada and the Netherlands. Lee plans to expand his medicinal herb farm instead.