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.”

ENDS

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.

ENDS

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

ENDS

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)

Humane Society International / South Korea


Jean Chung/for HSI Dogs rescued after the closure of a dog meat market just days before Boknal in 2019.

SEOUL—As South Korea’s Boknal season begins, marking the hottest days of summer during which dog meat ‘bosintang’ soup is commonly eaten, animal group Humane Society International is urging South Korea to join other countries across Asia in cracking down on the dog meat trade.

Although banned in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore, an estimated 30 million dogs a year are still killed for meat in other parts of Asia, including in South Korea where around 2 million dogs a year are raised on thousands of farms across the country. Many of them will be sold to butchers for Boknal season which begins this week, to be killed by electrocution and sold for soup. Although most people in South Korea don’t regularly eat dog, the belief that dog meat soup will cool the blood during the hot summer still holds with many, particularly the older generation. Despite the president’s Blue House pledge in 2018 to consider removing dogs from the legal definition of livestock and noting the need for the government “to consider solutions for dog meat related workers”, no such action has been taken.

In recent weeks a number of dog meat trade hot spot countries have started to take action to advance localised bans. In April, as part of Covid-19 food safety review, the Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai introduced the mainland’s first legislatives bans against dog and cat meat consumption, in what HSI is hoping will set a trend for other Chinese cities to follow. Earlier this month, India’s Government of Nagaland issued a comprehensive ban on the trade in live dogs and dog meat, sparing an estimated 30,000 dogs a year who are brutally slaughtered in the region’s notorious ‘death pits’. And most recently, Siem Reap became the first province in Cambodia to ban the sale and consumption of dog meat.

Jeff Flocken, president of Humane Society International, said: “Countries and governments across Asia have been advancing regional and local bans on dog meat in recent times, in an effort to protect both animal welfare and public health. Yet in South Korea the government has so far failed to take action to end the suffering of millions of dogs languishing on farms to be killed for meat. During the Boknal summer season, many thousands of these dogs will die just to be made into soup, and that’s a habit we’re glad to see Koreans increasingly questioning. But we are also urging President Moon Jae-in to join with other countries across Asia by taking action to dismantle this outdated and cruel industry.”

HSI in South Korea works in partnership with dog meat farmers to permanently close down dog meat farms and help them switch to alternative livelihoods as part of the charity’s strategy to demonstrate that the cruel trade can be phased out. It’s a strategy that so far has seen HSI close down 16 dog meat farms and rescue more than 2,000 dogs who are adopted out to loving homes in the United Kingdom, United States and Canada through the help of placement partners.

ENDS

Media contact: Wendy Higgins, whiggins@hsi.org, +44 (0)7989 972 423

Humane Society International / South Korea


Jacob Studio/iStock.com

SEOUL—Proposed new legislation that would require Korean regulatory and research funding ministries to promote the development and implementation of non-animal alternatives in safety and biomedical sciences will be examined at a National Assembly expert forum on June 30. Assembly member In-soon Nam and Humane Society International/Korea will co-host the forum.

The legislative initiative follows the release of government statistics revealing a shocking spike in the number of animals subjected to painful chemical-poisoning and other experiments in 2019, including forced feeding, inhalation, eye and skin tests without pain relief to assess the toxicity of insecticides (+187%), industrial chemicals (+115%) and pharmaceuticals (+40%).

Assembly member Nam said: “I believe this is a timely subject for discussion. We are living in the 21st century now, so it is only appropriate to discuss a new legal framework that will advance the current science policy for human patients and laboratory animals. As a member of the Health and Welfare committee, I am pleased to support this initiative and invite other science stakeholders to join in the discussion.”

Borami Seo, HSI/Korea senior policy manager for research and toxicology, said: “The proposed legislation provides the legal ground for the government ministries to fund the development of advanced and scientifically superior human-mimetic tools for testing and disease research, or to accept the findings from these proven non-animal methods. Time and again we’ve found that the only way to get some ministries to change their behaviour is by changing the law. It’s been six decades since the concept of animal testing alternatives was introduced to the scientific community and yet animal use in Korean laboratories remains at an all-time high. Our systems of research funding and experimental regulation are in urgent need of reform.”

The forum, chaired by Prof Kyung-min Lim from EWHA Women’s University, will feature presentations from the Korea Legislation Research Institute, the Korea Center for the Validation of Alternative Methods and HSI/Korea. The panelists include officials from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety, Ministry of Health and Welfare, Korea Institute of Toxicology president Chang-woo Song, Dana Green Bio CEO Ki-woo Kim, National Assembly legislative officer Jung-cheol Goh, Korean Society for Alternative to Animal Experiments vice president Gwang-man Kim, and People for Non-Human Rights lawyer Coochwa Suh.

Date: Tuesday, June 30, 2020

Time:   1400 KST

Place:   National Assembly

Due to the COVID-19 outbreak, only pre-registered guests will be admitted to the Assembly building to join the forum.

Last year HSI organized Korea’s first cross-ministerial forum to explore legislation to boost government funding for human-specific, non-animal approaches for testing as an alternative to experiments on mice, rats, dogs and monkeys that too often fail to predict human disease outcomes in the real world. After this forum, the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety carried out a review of the proposed legislation, which led to a series of stakeholder meetings and a revised legislative proposal.

Leading companies and academic research groups across the globe are harnessing the power of non-animal human-relevant models to study and develop treatments for diseases ranging from cancer to COVID-19:

END

Media contact: Borami Seo, bseo@hsi.org

Humane Society International and its partner organisations together constitute one of the world’s largest animal protection organisations. For more than 25 years, HSI has been working for the protection of all animals through the use of science, advocacy, education and hands on programs. Celebrating animals and confronting cruelty worldwide – on the Web at hsi.org and biomed21.org.

Humane Society International / South Korea


Bliznetsov/iStock.com

SEOUL—Humane Society International/Korea is calling on legislators to back a series of tough new legal measures to address the lack of progress by Korea’s relevant regulatory and research funding ministries toward reduction and replacement of animal testing. Statistics on laboratory animal use in 2019 published this week by Korea’s Ministry of Agriculture, Food and Rural Affairs’ Animal and Plant Quarantine Agency[1] revealed a marginal 0.4% decrease in total animal use compared to the previous year (3,712,380 in 2019 compared to 3,727,163 in 2018), together with alarming increases in animal use for testing insecticides (+187%), industrial chemicals (+115%), education and training (+77.8%), pharmaceutical quality control testing (+40%), production of genetically modified animals (+12%), and experiments in the most severe pain category (+9.7%).

Borami Seo, HSI/Korea senior policy manager for research and toxicology, said: “These statistics make it clear far Korean authorities and science funding ministries have to go to fulfill their stated commitment to replace, reduce or even minimize the most severe suffering in animal testing. The future lies in human mimetic non-animal approaches like human organoids, organs-on-chips and next-generation computing and AI, not in poisoning or genetically modifying mice, monkeys and other animals. It’s time our government followed the example of the United States, the Netherlands and other innovation economies by making a serious investment in non-animal technologies to advance safety science and medical research.”

HSI/Korea has been working with members of the National Assembly and key ministries to make research and regulatory testing with non-animal approaches a higher priority. For example, Korean chemical, pesticide and pharmaceutical authorities should reflect on their performance in comparison to the US Environmental Protection Agency’s commitment to reduce mammalian testing requirements by 30% by 2025 and to completely eliminate them by 2035. Korean science funding ministries should look to European and American funding programs for organ-on-a-chip technologies to advance drug testing and human disease research.

Assembly member In-soon Nam and HSI will host an Assembly forum on June 30 to discuss a new legislative initiative to promote the development, distribution, and use of alternatives to animal testing methods. Presenters include officials from the Ministry of Food and Drug Safety and the Ministry of Health and Welfare, the president of the Korea Institute of Toxicology Chang-Woo Song, the vice president of the Korean Society for Alternative to Animal Experiments Gwang-Man Kim, CEO of Dana Green Bio Ki-woo Kim, and HSI/Korea. Additionally, legal experts from the National Assembly’s Legislative office, the Korea Legislation Research Institute and the Korean lawyers’ group People for Non-Human Rights will join the discussion.

END

Media contact: Borami Seo, bseo@hsi.org

  1. MAFRA’s full statistical report for 2019 is available online (in Korean).

Farmers offered $88 per porcupine, $84 per civet cat, or $17 per kg of cobra snakes

Humane Society International / China


Trevor Mogg/Alamy Stock photo Live animals for sale at a market in China in 2020

WASHINGTON—Wildlife farmers in two provinces in mainland China are being offered a government buy-out to facilitate a move away from breeding wild species for consumption, as part of the country’s crackdown on the wildlife trade in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic. The plans, published on May 15th, see Hunan and Jiangxi provinces provide an exit strategy for wildlife farmers who will be compensated to allow them to transition to alternative livelihoods such as growing fruit, vegetables, tea plants, or herbs for traditional Chinese medicine. Some may choose to switch to breeding other animals such as pigs and chickens.

On February 24th, the Standing Committee of China’s National People’s Congress banned wild animal consumption for food, and wildlife campaigners at Humane Society International hope that the province-sponsored buy-out plans will help to ensure the ban is a success.

Hunan province will offer farmers compensation to the tune of 120 yuan per kilogram of cobra, king rattle snake or rat snake; 75 yuan per kilogram of bamboo rat; 630 yuan per porcupine; 600 yuan per civet cat; and 378 yuan and 2,457 yuan per wild goose and Chinese muntjac deer respectively.

Dr Peter Li, Humane Society International’s China policy specialist, said: “By subsidising wildlife breeders to transition to alternative livelihoods, these provinces are demonstrating global leadership on this issue, which other provinces and countries must now follow. Chinese farmers not only have an opportunity to leave a trade that poses a direct threat to human health – something that can no longer be tolerated in light of COVID – but also to transition to more humane and sustainable livelihoods such as growing plant foods popular in Chinese cuisine. This is a model for change that Humane Society International has been putting into practice with dog meat farmers in South Korea for some years, with dog farmers transitioning over to farming chillies, mushrooms, and water parsley. In China you can easily imagine the vast sheds that once factory farmed bamboo rats and other unfortunate wildlife, being adapted to grow mushrooms and herbs instead.”

Dr Li believes the closure of China’s destructive wildlife consumption trade could have the advantageous consequence of boosting the availability of healthy plant-based foods, in line with China’s national dietary guidelines recommending a 50% reduction in meat consumption. “People in China are increasingly interested in plant-based foods, in fact, a more plant-centred diet is far more traditional than one based on wildlife meats, or intensively farmed domesticated animals, as Chinese cuisines have led the way with plant proteins such as tofu and seitan.”

The buy-out plan does have a blind spot, it does not include the vast number of wild animals bred in China not for consumption but for fur, traditional Chinese medicine and for entertainment/pet trade/display. China’s overall wildlife trade is worth around 520 billion yuan ($73 billion/£57 billion), but although global focus has understandably been on wildlife consumption trade worth 125 billion yuan ($18 billion/£14 billion), the largest proportion of China’s wildlife farming – the fur industry worth 389 billion yuan ($55 billion/£43billion) annually – is conspicuous by its absence from any COVID-19 related bans or buy-outs. In fact there are plans afoot in China to reclassify the millions of raccoon dogs, foxes and mink farmed for fur from “wildlife” to “livestock” as part of a new resource list by the Ministry of Agriculture, State Forestry and Grassland Bureau.

Dr Teresa Telecky, HSI’s vice president of wildlife, said: “Rebranding fur-bearing wildlife as livestock doesn’t alter the fact that there are insurmountable challenges to keeping these species in commercial captive breeding environments, and that their welfare needs simply can’t be met. In addition, there’s clear evidence that some of these species can act as intermediate hosts of viruses, such as COVID-19, which is why governments around the world must stop all trading in wildlife.”

As part of the buy-out plans in Hunan and Jiangxi provinces, the fate of the wildlife stock is also a welfare issue of concern. There are three options proposed – release of animals into the wild in suitable and non-residential habitat; utilisation by other industries such as zoos, laboratory research, and traditional medicine; or mass culling.

HSI’s Dr Li said: “While the transition of wildlife farmers to other livelihoods is of course a very positive move for both people and animals, a really sad inevitable consequence of that is that a vast number of the wild animals being mass produced on farms across China will likely be culled or moved to other exploitative industries such as zoos and traditional medicine where animal welfare is typically extremely low and conditions woefully sub-standard. Culling programs in China and other countries in Asia can also involve truly barbaric methods such as live burial, and so we really hope to see the Chinese authorities mandating against such cruelty. The wild animal breeding farms and factories facing closure and transition must not sacrifice animal welfare in an effort to implement the new changes.”

Only farms that have been operating legally with breeding permits before February 24th are eligible for compensation. The initial roll-out covers 14 species of farmed wildlife. A second group of farmed species will be announced after the finalisation of the government’s “livestock” list.

ENDS

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

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