Humane Society International / Global


Andrei Tchernov/iStockphoto

SEOUL—The annual statistics on laboratory animal use for 2020 revealed disappointing trends with regards to animal testing in South Korea. According to the Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency, 4,141,433 animals were used for testing in 2020, up 11.5% compared to the previous year (3,712,380 in 2019). This figure is a 43.8% increase compared to five years ago, when 2,878,907 animals were subjected to testing.

Meanwhile, this week, the Ministry of Justice proposed an amendment to the Civil Law, adding a new clause on the legal status of animals stipulating that animals are not objects. While Humane Society International/Korea welcomes this proposal, the latest animal testing statistics illustrate how much there is still to do at a government level to reduce the use of animals in experiments through effective replacement and reduction policies.

The greatest share of animal experiments were conducted under the regulatory testing category, recording 1,795,709 animals used. In addition, 299,344 animals were used for efficacy testing. This is a 900% increase compared to 2019 when 29,876 animals were used. For industrial chemical testing, there was a 43% decrease in 2020, recording 29,810 animals. HSI/Korea actively defended amendments to prioritize alternative methods in the Korea chemical registration law, K-REACH, which came into effect in 2019.

While Korea is embracing technological advances in every aspect of society, when it comes to research and testing, outdated approaches using animals are favored despite the rapid emergence of innovative, non-animal approaches, including internationally validated methods for regulatory testing. In recent years, human mimetic models like organ-on-a-chip, organoids and computer-based approaches such as in silico have proven to be successful alternatives to animal models and have received attention from global pharmaceutical industries and regulators. These technologies have the potential to improve safety and efficacy assessments and reduce the failure rates of candidate drugs at the clinical stage.

However, running against these global trends, in 2020 the Ministry of Education secured 150 billion Korean Won to build new animal testing centers at nine national universities across South Korea. HSI/Korea has called for this funding to be redirected toward creation of alternative method infrastructures instead. The Ministry of Education denied HSI/Korea’s proposal.

According to the Ministry of Science, Information and Communications Technology’s response to the enquiry on the 2021 budget information for animal experiments and alternatives, 28.6% of the ministry’s budget is dedicated to funding and supplying animal models. This budget enquiry was requested by Member of National Assembly, Ik-pyo Hong, at the Science, Information and Communications Technology Committee. Only 1.36% of the budget was allocated for the development of state-of-the-art human-based technology instead of animal models.

Assembly member Ik-pyo Hong said: “The 2020 statistics show how little attention has been paid to advance research technologies without involving animal suffering. The objective of developing methods that emulate human physiology, is to find more accurate and effective ways for treating human diseases and conditions. In addition, it is our responsibility as a society to adopt more compassionate approaches for animals. I believe we can do more to support this modern science and move away from animal testing. Ultimately, it is better for humans and animals.”

Borami Seo, senior policy manager for HSI/Korea said: “While public interest in animal protection gathers unstoppable momentum, over 10,000 animals died every day in 2020 in Korean laboratories. The science community and central ministries need to move away from the outdated and unscientific notion that more animal experiments are better. We need to bring public and private stakeholders together around a consensus strategy to develop, disseminate and apply non-animal, cutting-edge technologies.”

Last December, Assembly member In-soon Nam introduced a new bill entitled ‘Act on the Promotion of Development, Dissemination and Use of Alternatives to Animal Testing Methods.’ It aims to bring central government ministries, research and testing stakeholders together for strategic planning to advance scientific research without animal testing. The bill is currently awaiting its review at the National Assembly’s Health and Welfare Committee.

Read the official 2020 lab animal statistics in Korean

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Media Contact: Borami Seo: bseo@hsi.org

Humane Society International / South Korea


Gyul Han/ Weber Shandwick Boknal Chobok plant based dishes

SEOUL—As Boknal – the three hottest days of the year according to the lunar calendar—begins in South Korea, Humane Society International/Korea and vegan chef Ahn Baek-Rin have joined forces to encourage consumers to swap dog meat soup, or “bosintang”,  for delicious plant-based recipes instead. The recipes offer a fresh, plant-based take on Boknal eating, incorporating many of the ingredients traditionally found in bosintang, often eaten to beat the heat, to help citizens stay cool during the hot summer months but without contributing to the suffering of dogs reared in barren cages on dog meat farms.

Although opinion polls show that the majority of Koreans (84%) neither consume dog meat nor intend to in the future, even if they have done so in the past, of those Koreans who do eat dog meat, the majority (70%) consume it over Boknal. Some Koreans believe dog meat soup can help relieve the effects of the sweltering summer heat and humidity and revive stamina. Between 1 and 2 million dogs are still bred annually across the country in unsanitary and inhumane conditions in thousands of dog farms, most of whom will be slaughtered for the summer Boknal.

HSI/Korea’s My Healthy Diet campaign is promoting three plant-based recipes to be published on HSI/Korea’s social media platforms on Chobok (start of summer), Jungbok (mid-summer), and Malbok (the end of summer). The dishes have been devised by vegan chefs Ahn Baek-Rin and two other chefs to be revealed during Boknal, using fresh seasonal vegetables. Unlike bosintang, the plant-based recipes don’t require hours of boiling and cooking, so are quick and easy to make, a time saving advantage that will appeal to busy home cooks.

Nara Kim, HSI/Korea’s dog meat campaign manager, says, “Although most South Koreans don’t eat dog meat, it still remains popular for some Koreans over the summer months, when the vast majority of dogs farmed for meat will be slaughtered. It’s a sad fact that millions of dogs are suffering miserable lives on dog meat farms largely to produce soup for Boknal. So our message is simple, by swapping bosintang for one of our delicious plant-based soups, we can keep cool and eat healthy while saving our canine friends at the same time. I have been to many dog meat farms, and I believe that if consumers saw the unsanitary and inhumane conditions that I see, they would not wish to eat bosintang anymore. We all strive to eat healthier these days, and so our easy recipes are ideal to help us beat the heat and spend a refreshing summer. If we all make compassionate food choices for Boknal, we can achieve an end to the dog meat industry.”

Chef Ahn Baek-Rin, who developed the first recipe for Chobok on 11th July, currently manages Millennial Dining restaurant in Seoul, preparing vegetarian dishes using diverse, organic and local ingredients to deliver rich tastes and flavours. Her Chobok recipe called “Self-care soup” combines a broth made with boshin soup sauce, vegetables and cashews, with shiitake, pine and lion’s mane mushrooms, and a sauce made with Korean chilli paste, sesame oil, soya sauce and paprika.

Chef Ahn says, “On this coming Chobok, HSI/Korea and I will introduce a new dish called ‘Self-care Soup’ that not only takes care of our health, but of our planet and the animals as well. It will be a mutually-beneficial dish, and it will be a perfect solution for Boknal, as it is full of essential vitamins and nutrients from seasonal vegetables. They provide a great way to boost our nutrient intake and ensure we eat enough vegetables. The ‘My Healthy Diet’ campaign is a fresh new take on Boknal eating, perfect for those who originally ate dog meat for Boknal because this recipe is carefully designed so that anyone can take care of their health with quality food.”

As well as protecting animal welfare, eating plant-based for Boknal also has human health benefits. Laboratory tests have found that an alarming amount of dog meat can contain harmful bacteria such as E. coli as well as antibiotics used to combat sickness in dogs due to the low welfare conditions on farms. With the link between low welfare animal breeding and the spread of zoonotic diseases such as bird flu and SARS, swapping dog meat for plant-based alternatives is a sound choice for public health, too.

Humane Society International/Korea, which has worked co-operatively with farmers to close down 17 dog meat farms in South Korea, is campaigning for legislation in the country to end the dog meat trade. The organization helps dog meat farmers transition to more humane and profitable businesses. A recent opinion poll commissioned by HSI/Korea and conducted by Nielsen shows growing support for a ban on the dog meat trade, with almost 60% supporting a legislative ban on the trade, compared to just 34.7% in 2017.

Download images of the Chobok vegan dish

Download images of HSI/Korea’s dog meat farm rescues

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Media contact: Wendy Higgins: whiggins@hsi.org

Humane Society International


Dog on a dog meat farm
Jean Chung

SEOUL—Korean animal protection groups have joined forces to save 50 dogs from being euthanised on a dog meat farm in Yongin city after the facility was closed down by the authorities. The dogs were found by the rescuers locked up in barren metal cages without water or proper food, after the four farmers running the farm had moved off the property following a demolition order by local officials. The farm had been operating in breach of the national Animal Protection Act. Humane Society International/Korea, LIFE, KoreanK9Rescue and Yongin Animal Care Association stepped in and worked together with the local authorities to save the dogs so that the structures could be demolished.

In addition to spending their lives in the misery of a small cage, some of the dogs were caged next to the slaughterhouse on site, and were clearly traumatised from watching and hearing dogs being killed. All the dogs—jindos and mastiffs, breeds often promoted as “meat dogs” by the industry—plus “Tiny Tim”, the farmer’s small pet terrier who he relinquished, are now receiving veterinary care and vaccinations, and will all eventually be flown to HSI’s temporary shelters in the United States and Canada to find adoptive families.

Nara Kim, HSI/Korea’s campaign manager, said “These dogs really needed our help because they would have been euthanized by the authorities without a rescue plan. We knew we had to act fast to save them, so it was wonderful that HSI, LIFE, KK9K and YACA all worked so well together as a team to get these dogs out. These efforts show how much passion there is in South Korea to end the dog meat industry. These dogs were in a pitiful state, skinny and frightened and existing in terrible conditions. It was shocking to see the slaughter area on site too with abandoned electrocution equipment and knives. I am horrified to think how many dogs lost their lives there. The sooner we can end the dog meat industry, the sooner we can see an end to such pitiful scenes of animal suffering.”

Many of the dogs were suffering from malnutrition as well as painful skin diseases and sore feet due to standing on the wire cage floor. Others had also been left with painful and untreated head and ear wounds. A number of the animals were extremely afraid of people, left tightly curled up and trembling in the back of the cage.

In-Seob Sim, president of LIFE, said: “It has been 30 years since the Animal Protection Act was established in Korea, however still so many animals are not protected properly. Government officials should make and implement policies to ban the slaughter of dogs for food. We should no longer subject this misery on future generations of dogs.”

Hyun Yu Kim, founder of KoreanK9Rescue, said: “It is significant that all these dogs are being given the chance of a new life instead of being euthanized or killed at the slaughter house. However, there are still countless dogs out there bred for meat who are still suffering. We are calling for urgent action from the government to introduce laws to ban the dog meat trade and protect dogs like these.”

Miyeon Ki, Yongin Animal Care Association, said: “I am overwhelmed by this life-saving mission for the 50 dogs who have escaped first the crisis of brutal slaughter for dog meat and then the threat of death by euthanasia, but have dramatically found a chance to live again. I think the effort to save lives in any difficult situation is the faith of animal rescue group.”

Yang-Jin Cho, Animal Protection Division, Yongin city said: “The city officials really felt bad for these dogs and hoped that something could be arranged to give the dogs the best chance. So we are really happy that these animal groups were able to help and give the dogs a future.”

Humane Society International/Korea, which has closed down 17 dog meat farms in the country, is campaigning for legislation in South Korea to end the dog meat trade. A recent opinion poll commissioned by HSI/Korea and conducted by Nielsen shows growing support for a ban on the dog meat trade, with nearly 84% of South Koreans saying they don’t or won’t eat dog, and almost 60% supporting a legislative ban on the trade.

Facts:

  • An estimated 2 million dogs are kept on thousands of farms across South Korea.
  • Most South Koreans do not consume dog meat, and a growing population see dogs only as companion animals.
  • Although not part of the culinary mainstream for most people, dog meat is most popular during the Bok days of summer spanning July and August, based on its perceived curative properties during the hot and humid summer months.
  • Recent crackdowns by authorities to curb the dog meat industry include the shutting down of Taepyeong dog slaughterhouse (the country’s largest) by Seongnam City Council in November 2018, followed in July 2019 by the closure of Gupo dog meat market in Busan, and a declaration in October last year by the mayor of Seoul that the city is “dog slaughter free”. In November 2019 a Supreme Court found that a dog farmer who electrocuted dogs was in violation of the Animal Protection Act, a judgement that could have huge implications for an industry that relies almost entirely on electrocution as a killing method.
  • This farm closure was conducted under COVID-19 health and safety restrictions. At each dog meat farm closure, HSI has a veterinarian test for the presence of the H3N2 virus (“canine influenza”), at the time the dogs receive their rabies, distemper, hepatitis, parvo virus, parainfluenza and Leptospira vaccines. HSI then quarantines the dogs on the farm or at a shelter for at least 30 days and the dogs are health certified again prior to transport overseas, in accordance with international export and import requirements.

Download broll video and photos of the rescue here.

*Nielsen online research conducted August/September 2020. Total sample size 1,000 people across six major cities in South Korea (Busan, Daegu, Incheon, Gwangju, Daejeon, Ulsan) weighted and representative of South Korean adults (aged 18+).

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Media contacts:
United Kingdom: Wendy Higgins: whiggins@hsi.org, +44 (0)7989 972 423
South Korea: Nara Kim, nkim@hsi.org

International experts to discuss ‘3D Tissue Chip and Micro-physiological Systems: from development to regulatory adaptation’

Humane Society International / South Korea


Andrei Tchernov/iStockphoto 

SEOUL—Cutting-edge advances in 3D organ-chip technologies will be discussed at an online symposium hosted by Humane Society International/Korea and 3D-MOTIVE project group. Titled ‘3D Tissue Chip and Micro-physiological Systems: from development to regulatory adaptation’, the virtual R&D and business strategy symposium takes place on 5 March.

The symposium will explore current scientific and research funding initiatives to advance non-animal predictive models for medical research and testing using human organ-chip micro-physiological systems. It will also explore the vision for strategic cooperation from developers to end-users to implement and utilise advanced human-based technologies instead of animals for pre-clinical testing.

Professor of nephrology at Seoul National University Hospital, Sejoong Kim, who leads the 3D-MOTIVE project, said “There is an increasing interest in developing new drug development platforms using multi-organ tissue chips. To get these newly developed methods approved by regulatory authorities to replace animal testing, close collaboration with related stakeholders is important. This symposium will provide the opportunity to share international efforts and to discuss strategic plans for Korea.”

Borami Seo, HSI/Korea’s interim executive director and senior policy manager for research and toxicology, said “For effective approaches for new drug discovery, science is increasingly moving away from animal models and applying human-relevant technologies. In December 2020, we saw the introduction of a relevant legislative proposal, the Act on the Promotion of Development, Dissemination and Use of Alternatives to Animal Testing Methods. If passed, this measure will provide a legal framework to support collaborative efforts across central authorities and provide support for long-term funding shifts toward non-animal approaches. I hope that our symposium will accelerate much-needed discussion on regulatory acceptance of cutting-edge technologies to replace animal testing methods”.

Agenda:

  • Chair by Sejoong Kim and Young-Jae Cho, professor at Seoul National University Hospital
    • Organ-Chip technology and regulatory progress
  • Dr Kyung Jin Jang, VP of Technology Implementation and Field Science, Emulate, US
    • Micro-physiological systems—from scientific models towards industry adoption and regulatory acceptance of qualified assays
  • Prof Uwe Marx, CSO & Founder, TissUse, Germany
    • US interagency organ-on-a-chip (OOC) development program: from funding to qualification for regulatory acceptance
  • Dr Suzanne Fitzpatrick, FDA, U.S.
    • Global standardization process for tissue chip techniques
  • Dr Sun-Ju Ahn, Institute of Quantum Biophysics, Sungkunkwan University, Korea
    • Introduction to the Act on the Promotion of Development, Distribution and Use of Alternatives to Animal Testing Methods
  • Borami Seo, Interim Executive Director/Senior Policy Manager for HSI/Korea
    • Industry’s role for OOC development and regulatory applications
  • Dr Adrian Roth, Roche, Switzerland

Register for the online symposium and learn more.

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Media contact: Borami Seo: bseo@hsi.org

South Korea could become a world leader in non-animal research, says HSI/Korea

Humane Society International / South Korea


sidsnapper/iStock.com

SEOUL— South Korea is well-positioned to become a world leader in non-animal research technologies, with its consideration of a new legislative bill that would require regulatory and research funding ministries to promote the development and use of methods that replace animal research.

The proposed Act on the Promotion of Development, Dissemination and Use of Alternatives to Animal Testing Methods, led by National Assembly member Ms. In-soon Nam and 15 other politicians, and championed by animal protection leader Humane Society International/Korea, would prioritize human-mimetic technologies to modernize and improve human health research and product safety testing.

HSI began advocating for this legislation in 2018 in response to a lack of coordinated effort by governments and stakeholders to proactively promote and use alternative methods. In addition, 2019 government statistics revealed a shocking rise in the number of animals subjected to experiments. A total of 3,712,380 animals were used in South Korea in 2019, with an alarming 187% increase in animal use for testing insecticides and a 115% increase in the number of animals used to test industrial chemicals. Internationally recognised non-animal methods are not well promoted by government or embraced by industry in South Korea, with many laboratories simply ignoring them. The slow adoption of superior testing methods is further complicated by the lack of channels to communicate, collaborate and coordinate efforts towards state-of-the-art human-based technologies.

The bill’s sponsor, Assembly member Nam, said: “As a member of the health and welfare committee, I believe that this bill marks a much-needed initiative in our society to finally move away from relying on old models that use animals and collectively move forward to provide better research approaches based on human biology, which will advance public health as well as animal welfare.”

Nam’s proposed legislation promotes human-focused science and technology and defines ‘alternatives to animal testing methods’ as prioritizing full animal replacements. It also establishes a committee to set procedures for collaboration with other central authorities to develop, disseminate and use non-animal methods.

The proposed law is also likely to be popular with South Korean citizens. A recent opinion poll by Realmeter and commissioned by HSI/Korea shows that 80% of Koreans want to see their tax money spent on supporting advanced non-animal approaches such as human organ-mimics and tests using human-derived cells instead of experiments on mice, monkeys and dogs.

HSI championed the idea of draft legislation in collaboration with the lawyers’ group, PNR, and held a series of consultations with stakeholders. In 2019, at a first public forum in South Korea, cross-ministerial officials discussed the legislation at the National Assembly. Since then, HSI has participated in a project with the Korea Centre for the Validation of Alternative Methods (KoCVAM), led by the Korea Legislation Research Institute, to provide policy research to support alternatives to animal testing consistent with the draft legislation. In 2020, HSI and Ms. Nam hosted a second forum to discuss the bill.

HSI/Korea’s senior policy manager, Borami Seo said: “If passed, this bill will provide the legal framework needed to situate South Korea at the forefront of developing superior non-animal methods to better understand and treat human disease faster and more effectively. Despite exciting scientific innovations spearheaded by South Korean companies, such as the development of a human cornea model to replace animal testing, and human organ-mimetic models to develop next-generation 3-D cell technology for drug development, Korea’s regulatory framework is still biased towards the old ways of animal testing, which isn’t benefiting animal welfare or human health. That has to change and this historic bill will lead the way.”

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Media contact: Borami Seo, HSI/Korea: bseo@hsi.org

Rescuers said some dogs were so skinny they feared their bones might break when they held them

Humane Society International / South Korea


Nara Kim/HSI Closure of dog meat and puppy mill farm in South Korea, led by Korean group LIFE with assistance from HSI/Korea Dec 2020.

LONDON—Around 100 dogs in a shocking state of neglect have been rescued from an illegal dog farm in Gimpo, South Korea. Local Korean animal group, LIFE, with assistance from Humane Society International/Korea and regional officials, found poodles, Jindos, Yorkshire terriers, Chihuahuas, Shih Tzus, Pomeranians, Spitz, Schnauzers and more caged in deplorable conditions on a junk yard farm where they had been bred and sold for both the pet trade and the dog meat trade.

Many of the dogs were suffering from severe malnutrition as well as painful skin diseases due to living in their own faeces. Many were found huddled next to the lifeless bodies of their dead cage mates who had apparently starved to death, while others appeared to have resorted to cannibalism simply to survive, their bowls left empty by the farmer who said he wasn’t making enough profit to feed them. More dead dogs were found stored in a disused freezer on the property.

Korean group, LIFE, negotiated with the farmer to permanently close his farm. The land will be redeveloped by the authorities now that the illegal dog farm has been shut down. Humane Society International/Korea, which has closed down 17 dog meat farms in the country, provided assistance to LIFE on the rescue day and is also helping them by providing shelter and emergency veterinary care for 40 of the dogs. The remaining dogs are being cared for by LIFE.

In-Seob Sim, president of LIFE, says: “This is a really shocking example of a common problem here in South Korea, where dogs are bred in the worst conditions to maximize profits. It’s time for South Korean society to impose controls on the breeding of dogs for sale. If we don’t find a solution, this kind of animal suffering will continue. Koreans who are upset to see the terrible suffering of these dogs, need to realise that it is society’s demand for pet shop puppies and dog meat that drives this kind of cruelty. If we can change our behaviour, we can change the fate of these dogs.”

The farmer had been illegally squatting on government land for more than 10 years, and even applied for compensation when the Gimpo city government announced the land was being seized for redevelopment. In the hope of getting more compensation, the farmer bred more dogs even though he couldn’t afford to feed them. Gyeonggi province officials are now investigating the farmer with a view to bringing animal cruelty and other charges.

Nara Kim, HSI/Korea’s campaign manager, says “When I first visited the dog farm, it was too shocking to take in what I was seeing. I have rescued thousands of dogs from many dog meat farms in South Korea, but this place was like hell. Many of the dogs were just skin and bones, and it was hard to find any ‘normal’ looking dogs because their bodies were so ravaged by starvation and skin disease. I was so afraid their fragile bones might break when I lifted them out of their cages, so I was just really slow and gentle. Hardly any of them had the energy to struggle anyway. We got there just in time for some, I don’t think they could have survived another day. I’m so happy that LIFE asked us to be a part of this rescue, it was such a relief to get these dogs out of that horrible place.”

Once the dogs in HSI/Korea’s care are well enough to travel, they will be flown to North America to look for forever families. LIFE is grateful to the Seoul Veterinary Medical Association, Gyeonggi Veterinary Medical Association, Petdoc Korea, Harim Pet food and the ESAC Training Centre for their generous support for this rescue.

Download photos and video of this rescue.

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Media contact: Wendy Higgins, Director of International Media: whiggins@hsi.org

Shelters in D.C., Ohio, Maryland and Pennsylvania take dogs for adoption

Humane Society International


Jean Chung for HSI The HSI Animal Rescue Team rescues Baker at a dog meat farm in Haemi, South Korea, on Thursday, October 22, 2020. The operation is part of HSIs efforts to fight the dog meat trade throughout Asia. 

CHANTILLY, Va.—Some 196 dogs saved from South Korea’s brutal dog meat trade touched down in the United States to start their search for loving homes, thanks to a rescue mission by Humane Society International. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, the rescue effort saw HSI’s U.S. team quarantine for two weeks at a government-sanctioned hotel in Seoul before being allowed to head to a dog meat farm in Haemi to rescue the dogs, which include golden retrievers, a poodle, Korean jindos and mastiffs, Pomeranians, terriers and a Labrador.

Most of the dogs will be provided shelter in the DC area, either directly with local DC-area animal shelters or at a temporary shelter run by HSI and the Animal Rescue Team of the Humane Society of the United States, with assistance from RedRover. The remaining dogs will be taken to our HSI/ Canada temporary shelter in Montreal before placement with local shelter partners there. All the dogs will be evaluated, receive the veterinary treatment needed, and be in warm beds with nutritious food for the first time in their lives. The dogs staying in the HSI/HSUS temporary shelter will gradually move to shelter partners across the US over the coming month.

Organizations taking in the rescued dogs are:

  • SPCA Cincinnati (Cincinnati, Ohio)
  • Delaware Valley Golden Retriever Rescue (Reinholds, Pennsylvania)
  • Humane Society of Calvert County (Sunderland, Maryland)
  • Homeward Trails Animal Rescue (Fairfax Station, Virginia)
  • Petey and Furends (Rockville, Maryland)

Of the 196 dogs, 170 were rescued by HSI from a single dog meat farm closed down by the charity in partnership with the farmer. The other 26 dogs had been rescued by HSI from previous dog meat market and farm rescue operations but had not been able to leave their South Korean temporary shelter until now due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. Dog adoption is not yet widely accepted in South Korea, however HSI hopes that its work to raise awareness about the benefits of adoption and promotion of its adoption success stories overseas, will gradually lead to more dogs finding forever families within the country.

This marks the 17th dog meat farm that HSI has permanently closed down, and coincides with the publication of a new opinion poll showing growing support in South Korea for a ban on dog meat consumption. The poll, conducted by Nielsen and commission by Humane Society International/Korea, shows that 84% of the population say they don’t or won’t eat dog, and almost 60% support a legislative ban on the trade.

Key poll findings

  • 84% of South Koreans haven’t consumed dog meat or say they are not willing to consume it in the future.
  • 59% of South Koreans support banning dog meat, an increase of 24% from 2017, with opposition to a ban at an all-time low (fewer than half (41%) of the population.
  • 57% of South Koreans believe dog meat consumption reflects poorly on Korea, increasing from 37% in 2017.

Kelly O’Meara, HSI’s vice president of companion animal campaigns, says: “Although most people in South Korea don’t regularly eat dog meat, and support for a ban is growing, there remain thousands of farms of all sizes across the country where dogs of all breeds endure a harsh existence. With fewer people wanting to eat dog, farmers can see the writing is on the wall for this dying industry and so they work with HSI to find a solution that gives both them and their remaining dogs a chance of a new life. With such interest from dog farmers, and public support, we hope the Korean government will adopt this type of approach to phase out the dog meat industry for good.”

Once a taboo subject, the suffering of dogs and the unsanitary conditions on meat farms has received far greater visibility on South Korean media in recent times, contributing to rising support for a dog meat ban. The efforts of local Korean animal welfare groups and Humane Society International’s campaign, including dog farm closures which have been featured on prime time Korean TV and national news, have been instrumental in shining a spotlight on this cruel industry.

South Korea is the only country that intensively farms dogs for human consumption on a large scale. An estimated 2 million dogs a year are reared on thousands of dog meat farms across the country. The conditions on these farms are horrific – most dogs live their entire lives in barren wire cages or tethered on short chains, deprived of veterinary care or adequate protection from the punishing heat of summer and biting cold of winter, until they are brutally slaughtered, usually by electrocution or hanging.

Most South Koreans do not consume dog meat, and many citizens increasingly see dogs only as companion animals. The increase in companionship with dogs, particularly among younger Koreans, has at the same time fostered a greater interest in animal welfare and a decline in acceptance of eating dog meat. With reduced dog meat sales, HSI’s pioneering program works with dog farmers eager to exit this dying industry. HSI permanently closes down their farms, rescues their dogs and transitions the farmers to more humane and profitable livelihoods. The farmers sign a 20-year contract, stipulating they will not breed dogs or any animals, and the cages are demolished to ensure that no animals will suffer on the property in future.

Nara Kim, HSI/Korea’s dog meat campaign manager, says: “Every dog meat farm I’ve visited has a horrible stench of faeces and rotting food, but there was something different about this dog farm, it had a smell of death. The conditions were truly pitiful, and when we found these dogs they had looks of utter despair on their faces that will haunt us forever. Many of them are covered in painful sores and wounds from neglect, some have inflamed eyes and peer out blindly from their cage. I feel grateful they can no longer see this horrible place they live in, and when they finally receive veterinary care and can open their eyes, they will never have to endure this hopelessness again.”

Facts: 

  • Recent crackdowns by authorities to curb the dog meat industry include the shutting down of Taepyeong dog slaughterhouse (the country’s largest) by Seongnam City Council in November 2018, followed in July 2019 by the closure of Gupo dog meat market in Busan (South Korea’s second largest dog meat market after Moran market, which has also closed), and a declaration in October last year by the mayor of Seoul that the city is “dog slaughter free”. In November 2019 a court found that a dog farmer who electrocuted dogs was in violation of the Animal Protection Act, a judgement that could have huge implications for an industry that relies almost entirely on electrocution as a killing method.
  • At each dog meat farm closure, HSI has a veterinarian test for the presence of the H3N2 virus (“canine influenza”), at the time the dogs receive their rabies, DHPP and coronavirus vaccines. HSI also vaccinates the dogs for distemper and parvo. HSI then quarantines the dogs on the farm or at a shelter for at least 30 days, and the dogs are health certified again prior to transport overseas.

Download b-roll video and photos of the rescue

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Media contacts:

Nielsen online research conducted August/September 2020. Total sample size 1,000 people across six major cities in South Korea (Busan, Daegu, Incheon, Gwangju, Daejeon, Ulsan) weighted and representative of South Korean adults (aged 18+).

Humane Society International helps dog farmers leave the dying trade

Humane Society International / Korea (in South Korea)


Jean Chung for HSI

SEOUL—A new opinion poll in South Korea shows growing support for a ban on dog meat consumption, with 84% of those polled saying they don’t or won’t eat dog, and almost 60% supporting a legislative ban on the trade. The poll, conducted by Nielsen and commissioned by Humane Society International/Korea, is released on the day HSI/Korea rescues 170 dogs from a dog meat farm in Haemi, to seek new homes in the United States and Canada.

Key poll findings include:

  • 84% of South Koreans haven’t consumed dog meat or say they are not willing to consume it in the future.
  • 59% of South Koreans support banning dog meat, an increase of 24% from 2017, with opposition to a ban at an all-time low (fewer than half (41%) of the population.
  • 57% of South Koreans believe dog meat consumption reflects poorly on Korea, increasing from 37% in 2017.

The 170 dogs rescued by HSI were kept in filthy cages on the dog meat farm until farmer Il-Hwan Kim asked HSI for help closing after 40 years in the dog meat business. This is the 17th dog farm permanently closed down by the animal protection group, and farmer Kim’s story is becoming increasingly familiar as the decline in popularity of dog meat in South Korea sees more farmers struggle to make a living. A further 26 dogs also headed to the United States to start a new life had been saved from the dog meat trade by HSI in previous rescue operations but had been unable to leave their South Korean temporary shelter until now due to COVID-19 travel restrictions. In total, HSI is taking 196 dog meat trade survivors out of South Korea on a single flight, including a poodle, Korean jindos and mastiffs, Pomeranians, terriers and a Labrador retriever.

Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, the rescue effort saw HSI’s U.S. team quarantine for two weeks at a government-sanctioned hotel in Seoul before being allowed to head to the dog meat farm to rescue the dogs. As dog adoption is not yet widely accepted in South Korea, HSI’s Shelter and Rescue partners in the United States and Canada will take the dogs and start the process of matching them with forever families. HSI hopes that its work to raise awareness about the benefits of adoption and promotion of its adoption success stories overseas, will gradually lead to more dogs finding forever families within the country.

Nara Kim, HSI/Korea’s dog meat campaign manager, says: “Every dog meat farm I’ve visited has a horrible stench of faeces and rotting food, but there is something different about this dog farm, it smells of death. The conditions are truly pitiful, and when we found these dogs they had looks of utter despair on their faces that will haunt us forever. Many of them are covered in painful sores and wounds from neglect, some have inflamed eyes and peer out blindly from their cage. I feel grateful they can no longer see this horrible place they live in, and when they finally receive veterinary care and can open their eyes, they will never have to endure this hopelessness again.”

As the Nielsen/HSI poll shows, most South Koreans do not consume dog meat, and a growing population see dogs only as companion animals. The suffering of dogs and the unsanitary conditions on meat farms has also received far greater visibility in South Korean media in recent times, with rescues by local Korean animal welfare groups and Humane Society International/Korea featured on prime time Korean TV, contributing to rising support for a ban on this cruel industry that keeps around 2 million dogs on thousands of farms in deprived conditions.

A study from the University of Glasgow published last year revealed that dogs on South Korean dog meat farms live with chronic cumulative stress, twice as high as pet dogs living in and around Seoul. Researchers examined levels of the stress hormone cortisol in dog hair samples, including from 63 dogs rescued from farms by Humane Society International. Cortisol is released into the bloodstream by the adrenal glands when the body perceives stress. In the short term this supports a “flight or fight” response, but when cortisol is elevated for long periods it can result in negative consequences including poor immune function, greater susceptibility to disease and decreased quality of life and welfare.

Nara Kim says: “More people in South Korea are interested in animal welfare and the environment, and so when they see footage of our dog farm closures on the news showing the animal suffering and filthy conditions, or read about dog meat exposés by other Korean groups, they are really shocked and upset. The inevitable drop in sales is leading more dog farmers to look for a way out, and right now HSI runs the only scheme in the country working in partnership with dog farmers to help them start a new life. But we hope in time the Korean government will adopt this type of approach to phase out the dog meat industry for good.”

Farmer Il-Hwan Kim says in the last 10 years business has been really bad. He says: “There is no future in dog meat at all, it’s already dying and will fall apart completely. And dog farming is physically hard and I’m getting old, so I want to get out. Forty years ago it was different, but now it’s over for dog farming. I might start work in construction, because I used to work in scaffolding and there are opportunities there.”

Facts: 

  • Dog meat is most popular during the Bok days of summer in July and August based on its perceived curative properties during the hot and humid summer months.
  • Recent crackdowns by authorities to curb the dog meat industry include the shutting down of Taepyeong dog slaughterhouse (the country’s largest) by Seongnam City Council in November 2018, followed in July 2019 by the closure of Gupo dog meat market in Busan (South Korea’s second largest dog meat market after Moran market, which has also closed), and a declaration in October last year by the mayor of Seoul that the city is “dog slaughter free”. In November 2019 a Supreme Court found that a dog farmer who electrocuted dogs was in violation of the Animal Protection Act, a judgement that could have huge implications for an industry that relies almost entirely on electrocution as a killing method.
  • HSI has rescued more than 2,000 dogs from 17 South Korean dog farms. The farmers sign a 20-year contract, stipulating they will not breed dogs or any animals again, and the cages are demolished to ensure that no animals will suffer on the property in future. HSI follows up regularly to ensure compliance among past farmers.
  • This farm closure was conducted under COVID-19 health and safety restrictions, including HSI’s U.S. team quarantining in a government-sanctioned hotel for 14 days before starting the rescue. At each dog meat farm closure, HSI has a veterinarian test for the presence of the H3N2 virus (“canine influenza”), at the time the dogs receive their rabies, DHPP and coronavirus vaccines. HSI also vaccinates the dogs for distemper and parvo. HSI then quarantines the dogs on the farm or at a shelter for at least 30 days, and the dogs are health certified again prior to transport overseas.

Download b-roll video and photos of the rescue here

 ENDS

Media contact:

Nielsen online research conducted August/September 2020. Total sample size 1,000 people across six major cities in South Korea (Busan, Daegu, Incheon, Gwangju, Daejeon, Ulsan) weighted and representative of South Korean adults (aged 18+).

Korea’s state-of-the-art alternatives science is being overlooked

Humane Society International / South Korea


Jacob Studio/iStock.com 

SEOUL (July 30)—With South Korea’s National Assembly set to review a bill to promote non-animal research methods later this year, a new opinion poll reveals that the majority of the Korean public want to see their tax money spent on supporting these advanced approaches instead of animal testing. Almost 82% of respondents want to see the 21st National Assembly session demonstrate legislative support for alternatives to animal testing, which includes approaches such as human organ-mimics and tests using human-derived cells instead of experiments on mice, monkeys and dogs.

The nationwide opinion poll conducted by independent polling company Realmeter, and commissioned by Humane Society International/Korea, comes just a month after official statistics published by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs revealed a total of 3,712,380 animals used for testing in 2019. The statistics showed an alarming 187% increase in animal use for testing insecticides, a 115% increase in the number of animals used to test industrial chemicals, a 77.8% increase in animal experiments in education and training, a 40% increase in pharmaceutical quality control animal testing, and a 9.7% increase in animal experiments in the most severe pain category.

South Korea’s high level of animal use persists despite efforts by many Korean scientists to rapidly develop human-relevant methods. Unfortunately, even internationally recognised non-animal methods are not well promoted by government or industry. The majority of laboratories in South Korea certified as “Good Laboratory Practice” by the Ministry of Environment still use animals even where internationally recognized alternatives are readily available, and few of Korea’s contract testing facilities even offer non-animal test options.

Borami Seo, Humane Society International/Korea’s senior policy manager for research and toxicology, said, “South Korea’s scientists are at the forefront of efforts to develop superior non-animal methods to better understand and treat human disease faster and more effectively. And yet without a legal framework to promote the use of these methods, they are all too often being ignored. Among other achievements, South Korean companies have developed a human cornea model to replace animal testing for eye irritation that has been accepted as an official test method by the Organisation for Economic Cooperation and Development; are incorporating gene editing technology into human cell-based models for drug screening for Wilson’s disease; and are establishing human organ-mimetic models to develop next-generation 3-D cell technology for drug development. Yet despite all this innovation, Korea’s regulatory framework is still biased towards the old ways of animal testing, which isn’t benefiting animal welfare or human health. That has to change.”

Summary of poll results

  • 83.4% agree that the Korean government should increase funding to support animal testing replacement;
  • 81.3% want to see their tax money spent to support studying non-animal methods using human organ mimetic approaches or human-derived cells;
  • 83.8% support increased cross-ministerial collaboration to expand research fund for alternatives to animal testing;
  • 81.6% support anticipated legislation to promote alternative research instead of animal testing during this new 21st session of National Assembly;
  • 66% agree that testing that inflicts pain on animals needs to improve to avoid animal suffering;
  • 76.9% were not aware of alternatives to animal testing being available that are more predictive and modern than using animals.

South Korea’s failure to embrace the full potential of non-animal methods stands in stark contrast with countries, such as the Netherlands, Belgium and the United States, where there is a concerted effort to eliminate the use of animals to test chemicals, pesticides and other products. In January 2017, the Dutch government announced plans to phase out animal use for chemical safety testing by 2025, and is on track to achieve this goal. Belgium’s Brussels-Capital Region banned animal testing on cats, dogs and primates effective January 2020, and by January 2025 it will also ban animal use in education and safety testing unless deemed absolutely necessary. And in September 2019, the US Environmental Protection Agency made a commitment to reduce mammalian testing requirements by 30% by 2025 and to completely eliminate them by 2035.

Last month, HSI and Assembly member In-soon Nam co-hosted an Assembly forum to discuss legislation to promote non-animal research techniques in safety and biomedical sciences, ‘the Act on the Promotion of Development, Distribution and Use of Alternatives to Animal Testing Methods’. Participants from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the Korea Institute of Toxicology, the Korean Society for Alternative to Animal Experiments, Dana Green Bio, as well as legal experts from the National Assembly’s Legislative office, the Korea Legislation Research Institute and the Korean lawyers’ group People for Non-Human Rights, agreed on the need for a new research regulatory framework in Korea.

HSI/Korea’s Borami Seo said, “The future of scientific research lies in state-of-the-art, non-animal approaches like human organoids, organs-on-chips and next-generation computing and AI, not in poisoning, dissecting or genetically modifying mice, monkeys and other animals. This new opinion poll clearly shows that the vast majority of Koreans agree that the government should be taking serious action to advance the use of non-animal approaches. It’s time Korea followed the example of the United States, the Netherlands and other innovation economies that have made a serious investment in non-animal technologies. It’s been six decades since the concept of non-animal testing was introduced to the scientific community and yet animal use in Korean laboratories remains unacceptably high. We urge our government to become a global leader in non-animal science not only to protect animals from suffering, but also to accelerate more effective and predictive product safety and medical research for the benefit of the public.”

ENDS

Media contact: Borami Seo, bseo@hsi.org

Notes:

The nationwide poll of 1,000 respondents age 19 and older was conducted in June 2020 using an automated telephone survey method. Margin of error is ±3.1% with the 95% prediction interval.

Groups in New York, New Jersey, Pennsylvania, Maryland and Virginia take in the dogs for adoption

Humane Society International / South Korea


Jean Chung/for HSI Nara Kim of HSI holds a puppy rescued at a dog meat farm in Hongseong, South Korea. May 6, 2020.

WASHINGTON (July 16, 2020)—More than 100 dogs saved from South Korea’s brutal dog meat trade are headed for loving homes in the United States. Humane Society International rescued the dogs as part of its campaign to end the dog meat trade and flew them to the U.S., where the Humane Society of the United States placed them with several Shelter and Rescue Partners in the mid-Atlantic.

Organizations taking in the rescued dogs include

“Rescuing animals from suffering and neglect is as important as ever,” said Kitty Block, CEO of Humane Society International and president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States. “Thanks to the hard work of our staff and partners — both in Korea and the U.S. — these dogs will now have the happy lives they deserve: with families who love them.”

Sixty of the dogs arriving in the United States were rescued from a single dog meat farm by HSI in May (the remaining dogs from that farm are scheduled to go to Canada). This was the 16th farm the organization has helped to close since 2015. The dogs stayed in a temporary shelter in South Korea until modification of travel restrictions made it possible for HSI to bring them to the United States.

While dog meat is eaten in several countries in Asia, South Korea is the only country that farms dogs for human consumption on a large scale. An estimated 2 million dogs a year are reared on thousands of dog meat farms across the country. The conditions on these farms are horrific – most dogs live their entire lives in barren wire cages without adequate shelter or veterinary care until they are brutally slaughtered, usually by electrocution or hanging.

HSI’s pioneering program works with Korean dog farmers to rescue their dogs and transition the farmers to more humane and profitable livelihoods. The farmers sign a 20-year contract, stipulating they will not breed dogs or any animals, and the cages are demolished to ensure that no animals will suffer on the property in future.

At each dog meat farm closure, a veterinarian vaccinates the dogs against the H3N2 (dog flu) virus, rabies, DHPP, corona virus, distemper and parvo. HSI then quarantines the dogs on the farm or at a temporary shelter with no dogs permitted in or out prior to transport overseas. The dogs are given another check-up before their flight to ensure they are healthy enough to fly.

So far, HSI has saved more than 2,000 dogs from Korean dog meat farms. The dogs are brought to the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom for adoption. While pet ownership is on the rise in South Korea, adopting instead of buying a dog is still not a widespread practice there.

Download photos of the dogs’ journey from South Korea to the United States (more photos will be added Thursday afternoon). HSI’s senior specialist for disaster operations Kelly Donithan filmed a Facebook Live from the plane before it took off from Incheon International Airport in Seoul.

Download photos and video of the dogs on Farm 16 and their rescue.

END

Media contact: Nancy Hwa, Humane Society International, nhwa@hsi.org, 202-596-0808 (cell)