Humane Society International

The HSUS Trophy on display at Humane Society of the United States/Humane Society International undercover investigation at Safari Club International’s annual hunter’s convention in Las Vegas.

WASHINGTON—Conservation and animal protection groups filed a lawsuit today challenging decisions by the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service that authorize leopard trophy imports from Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia into the United States. The Center for Biological Diversity, Humane Society International, the Humane Society of the United States, and a South Africa-based photographic safari operator filed the suit.

The U.S. is a major global consumer of leopard trophies. On average the U.S. imports nearly 300 leopard trophies per year, which is 52% of all leopard trophies in trade each year. During the most recent five-year period for which data are available, the U.S. imported 1,037 leopard trophies from Zimbabwe, Tanzania, Mozambique and Zambia alone.

“Federal officials are dishing out leopard import permits right and left despite lacking the data to know how trophy hunting harms this highly imperiled species,” said Tanya Sanerib, international legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Regulations clearly require our government not to OK imports without adequate info about these splendid cats and all the ways humans are harming them. That info is key because even the stealthiest leopards can’t escape hunters’ bullets, especially when they’re hunted with baited prey.”

Leopards are vulnerable to extinction. Scientists believe that African leopard populations are plummeting due to habitat loss, prey depletion, persecution by people, poaching for the illegal skin trade and unsustainable trophy hunting. The actual rate of leopard decline remains largely unknown, and most nations lack population estimates.

“It seems inconceivable that the Fish and Wildlife Service allows U.S. trophy hunters to import hundreds of dead leopards every year, yet the agency does not even have basic information about number of animals left in the countries where they are being killed,” said Laura Smythe, staff attorney at the Humane Society of the United States. “Despite this glaring lack of data, and without even considering many of the other threats to the species, the agency is arbitrarily deciding that allowing these imports will not harm the species—it simply cannot scientifically or legally make those findings.”

Under the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES), leopard trade is permissible only under exceptional circumstances. Nevertheless, bowing to politics and diplomatic negotiations, parties to the international treaty recently sustained unjustifiably high quotas or caps on the number of leopards that can be traded annually as trophies. The U.S. has an independent obligation to ensure that leopard imports are not detrimental to the survival of the species based on the best biological—not political—information.

The lawsuit challenges the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service’s failure to meet this obligation by authorizing U.S. trophy hunters to import leopard trophies from Africa. The hunters rely on these decisions in deciding to travel to Africa to kill these animals. Due to travel restrictions and COVID-19 risks, fewer hunters are traveling to Africa, meaning the leopards covered by the challenged import authorizations are likely still alive and could still be saved from import.

Today the organizations also gave the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service notice of their intent to sue over the agency’s failure to make a 12-month finding on their 2016 petition to list all leopards as “endangered” under the Endangered Species Act.

“It is high time that the Fish and Wildlife Service acted on our petition to extend full protections to these unique and beautiful creatures,” said Teresa Telecky, vice president of Humane Society International’s wildlife programs. “Its decision is far overdue, and every day the agency does not act is another day that this species tumbles further down the path toward extinction.”

Most leopard populations in Africa are currently listed as “threatened” and are not given the law’s full range of protections. Furthermore, an endangered listing would increase transparency and give the public the ability to comment on trophy import applications. That petition also asked the agency to take immediate action to apply a stricter standard to the import of leopards as hunted trophies.

“Scientists have highlighted time and again instances where trophy hunting imperils local leopard populations, and up-listing leopards from threatened to endangered would ensure the public can weigh in on the critical analysis of whether trophy hunting could somehow enhance these cats’ survival,” said Sanerib.

Download photo of leopard trophy.

Media Contacts:

  • Rodi Rosensweig, HSUS/ HSI: 203-270-8929;
  • Tanya Sanerib, Center for Biological Diversity: 206-379-7363;

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.”


  • 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


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

Donna Gadomski/HSI 

WASHINGTON— Conservation and animal protection groups today filed a notice of intent to sue the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service for failing to consider Endangered Species Act protections for Africa’s rapidly dwindling giraffe population.

The groups Center for Biological Diversity, the Humane Society of the United States, Humane Society International and several others petitioned for giraffe protections in April 2017, but the species still has not received the legally required finding that was due in April 2018, nor any protection under the Act.

Last year, after a lawsuit filed by the groups, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service determined that giraffes may qualify for protections under the Act — but the agency has failed to make a decision or implement any protective measures.

“Giraffes are loved by people around the world, so it’s shocking and sad that the U.S. government is ignoring their tragic plight,” said Tanya Sanerib, international legal director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “As giraffe populations plummet, these extraordinary creatures desperately need the Endangered Species Act’s sturdy shield. But three years after we petitioned for protections, federal officials are still stalling on safeguards for everyone’s favorite longnecked mammal.”

With fewer than 69,000 mature individuals remaining in the wild, giraffes have been undergoing what has been called a silent extinction. Giraffe populations have dropped nearly 40% due to habitat loss, civil unrest and poaching and the international trade in bone carvings, skins and trophies puts additional pressure on these iconic animals.

“The United States has an important role to play in preventing extinction of these magnificent creatures, as the top importer of giraffe trophies, and as many Americans import giraffe parts — including bones and skins — to sell them for commercial purposes in the U.S.,” said Adam Peyman, wildlife programs director for Humane Society International, speaking on behalf of Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States. “The time has long passed for the Fish and Wildlife Service to take action and put in place desperately needed protections.”

Parties to the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species (CITES) decided in 2019 to regulate international trade in giraffes — including trophies and other body parts — by placing the species on the Appendix II of the Convention. But several key exporting countries in Africa have expressed that they do not intend to implement or enforce CITES requirements with respect to giraffes even though the listing only requires export permits and reporting of international trade in giraffes. Protection under the Endangered Species Act is desperately needed to help curb imports of giraffe bones, trophies and other parts to the U.S. and increase funding for conservation efforts for the species.

On average, the U.S. imports more than one giraffe hunting trophy a day and imported more than 21,400 giraffe bone carvings between 2006 to 2015. Many of the imported giraffe parts are turned into frivolous decorative items such as pillows, boots, bible covers or jackets. 

The International Union for the Conservation of Nature assessed giraffes as “vulnerable” to extinction in 2016 and classified two giraffe subspecies as “endangered” and two more as “critically endangered” in 2018.

Humane Society International identifies five pandemic risks with animal agriculture

Humane Society International / United States

Alamy Stock Photo Broiler chickens on the brooding area of a commercial poultry farm.

WASHINGTON—The world’s addiction to intensive animal farming, in which thousands of stressed animals are kept in close proximity, is the perfect breeding ground for future pandemics, and world leaders must accelerate action to shift global diets towards more plant-based foods, says a white paper authored by global animal protection organisation Humane Society International. HSI identifies five primary pandemic risks associated with animal agriculture, creating a “petri dish” for pathogens to erupt, mutate and spread:

1. virus ‘spillover’: when expansion of farms into previously wild areas brings wild and domestic species together.
2. viral amplification: where novel viral strains are created through confining vast numbers of stressed animals indoors.
3. farm concentration: where dense geographic concentration of farms increases the risk of pathogens spreading.
4. global live animal trade: where huge numbers of live animals are transported between countries and continents, allowing pathogens to spread even further.
5. live animal markets, agricultural fairs and auctions: where “hubs” are created such that animals from many different places are brought into proximity with the public, where viruses can proliferate.

Farm animals have been at the heart of multiple zoonotic disease outbreaks over the past two centuries, including H5N1 avian influenza transmitted from poultry to humans, and Nipah virus and HINI swine flu transmitted from pigs to humans. While the coronavirus pandemic prompted the world to acknowledge the need to shut down unsanitary wildlife markets implicated as a probable origin of the novel coronavirus, factory farms and slaughterhouses also have grave consequences for human health, and often far closer to home.

Julie Janovsky, Humane Society International’s vice president of farm animal campaigns, says: “Since news broke that COVID-19 likely originated in a live animal market where stressed animals crowded in cages, in unsanitary conditions, we began examining what other human exploitation of animals could create a similar petri dish of disease. It’s clear looking at the data that the unprecedented increase and expansion of intensive animal agriculture, mostly on factory farms, in which we raise and slaughter more than 80 billion animals around the world every year, is a clear front-runner. The message is simple, if we want to stop future pandemics, we have to significantly kick the meat habit, and global leaders need to actively assist in shifting global diets towards more plant-based eating.”    

Like wildlife markets, intensive confinement systems used in animal agriculture crowd large numbers of animals together into small spaces, except at a much larger scale. In industrial chicken and egg production facilities, animals are raised by the tens- or even hundreds-of thousands, breathing in the same dusty, ammonia-laden air in dim enclosures. Breeding pigs in the pork industry are commonly confined to metal stalls (gestation crates) so narrow they cannot even turn around, and hens kept for egg production are confined in cages so small they cannot stretch their wings. The more animals a virus has in which to replicate and mutate, the greater the chances that a new and deadly pathogen could arise from an infected production site.

To prevent another outbreak of zoonotic viruses like the one causing COVID-19, HSI urges and is campaigning for:

  • A substantial reduction in our global reliance on animal-based protein.
  • Public policies favouring the production of plant-based options in place of expanding animal agriculture.
  • A reduction in the number of animals raised for human food, to reduce animal population density both within farms and geographically.
  • A phase-out of the use of cages and crates used to overcrowd animals in intensive systems.
  • A phase-out of the long-distance transport of live animals.
  • Policies to protect natural ecosystems from agricultural expansion and other sources of degradation and fragmentation.
  • A ban on the sale of poultry at all live bird markets and restrictions on live animal exhibitions.

Sara Shields, Humane Society International’s farm animal senior scientist, says: “If we study past outbreaks of animal to human disease, we can see a pattern emerge that clearly identifies intensive animal farming as a key culprit. The outbreak of Nipah in Malaysia in 1997 was an example of wild to domestic species virus spillover, and meta-analysis has shown that highly pathogenic avian influenza is enabled by the confinement of thousands of birds together where mutating viruses are easily exchanged between hosts. We can make our world less vulnerable to future pandemics, but only by reevaluating animal agriculture and shifting more to plant-based sources of protein. To do this requires governments to actively engage in rebalancing our food system, but as consumers we are also directly responsible for the impacts of our food choices. The plant-based food market is booming, making it easy to switch animal products for more plant-based alternatives. There is no better time than now to make conscientious decisions with the animals and the health of our planet in mind.”

Read the white paper here.


Media contact: Wendy Higgins, UK:

Humane Society International / United States

Donna Gadomski/HSI Daniel and Juliette meet for the first time.

WASHINGTON—Korean-American actor Daniel Henney just became the proud pup parent of Juliette, a young golden retriever rescued from a dog meat farm in Hongseong, South Korea by Humane Society International. The international film and television actor is best known in the U.S. for his role in the series Criminal Minds and is a passionate dog advocate. He has worked with HSI for several years to raise awareness in South Korea on the benefits of dog adoption, which is relatively uncommon there. Henney also has a nine-year-old golden retriever rescue named Roscoe.

Henney said, “When I first met Juliette, it was love at first sight. She completely and totally melted my heart and she has become such an amazing member of our family. Considering what she’s had to live through, she’s so gentle and sweet, so patient. But there are thousands of other dogs just like Juliette living in cages on dog meat farms who need our help and that’s why I’m supporting HSI’s mission to end the suffering.

I consider myself very lucky to have gotten Juliette; she is an angel; an absolutely wonderful dog and she’s fit into the family like a Lego. Not only has it helped her but it’s helped us so much. Roscoe is so full of life now because he has this new sister and they are absolutely inseparable! They go everywhere together – they play together, they eat together, they sleep on top of each other. It’s been a wonderful experience.”

Henney, a passionate dog lover, is teaming up with HSI to increase awareness and acceptance in South Korea of dog adoption. Although dog ownership has increased rapidly in South Korea in recent years, with one in five households in Seoul now owning a pet, many people buy pet store puppies who are sourced from puppy mills where dogs are intensively bred in deprived conditions, and even from dog meat farms that breed pups for both food and family.

“We couldn’t have wished for a happier ending for Juliette, who is such a sweet-natured and loving dog,” said Jeffrey Flocken, HSI president. Flocken is also a proud adopter of a dog HSI rescued from a dog meat farm in South Korea.

“She’s had a rough start in life; a dog meat farm is a grim place to live with absolutely no love or comfort, so we were thrilled to be able to save Juliette and all the other dogs there from such a fate,” said Flocken. ”So many dogs in South Korea need to find homes, so we’re excited to be working with Daniel to increase awareness of dog adoption. Juliette is a perfect ‘ambassadog’ for our work, and her story will hopefully help other dogs find their happily ever after.”

Henney continued, “Juliette deserves so much love. I want to give her the chance to be a dog, to run and enjoy life. Once she’s fully settled, I want her to be an example for how great these dogs are, and I want her to help encourage people to adopt these wonderful dogs from these dog meat farms.”

Humane Society International has rescued more than 2,000 dogs from dog meat farms in South Korea, working in cooperation with farmers who wish to exit the industry in search of new beginnings. The farmer in Juliette’s case intends to switch to growing vegetables for a more profitable and humane future.

Nara Kim, HSI/Korea’s dog meat campaigner, said, “Daniel’s passion and personal experience will help us make a significant impact to increase interest and acceptance of dog adoptions in South Korea. Our goal for the future is to see more of the dogs HSI rescues from dog meat farms find forever families within South Korea. We usually fly the dogs to the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to seek adoptive homes, but we hope to help more South Koreans open their hearts and homes to these wonderful dogs in time.”

A Michigan native, Henney became a household name in Korea after starring in the television drama My Lovely Sam-soon and starring in such series as Hello FranceskaSpring Waltz and The Fugitive: Plan B. In the U.S. his television credits include Three Rivers, Criminal Minds: Beyond BordersHawaii Five-0NCIS: Los Angeles and Revolution. He voiced the role of Tadashi Hamada in the Academy Award-winning film Big Hero 6 and appeared in the films X-Men Origins: WolverineThe Last StandSeducing Mr. PerfectMy FatherThe Spy: Undercover Operation and Shanghai Calling.

He will next star in the Amazon epic fantasy drama Wheel of Time. He spends his time between his homes in California and Michigan with Roscoe and Juliette.

View the YouTube video of Daniel and Juliette.

Download photos and videos of Daniel and Juliette .

Download photos and videos of the South Korea Dog Meat Farm.


Media Contact: Rodi Rosensweig:; +1 203-270-8929,

Decision should ban U.S. sales of world’s most trafficked mammal

Humane Society International / United States

Tikki Hywood Trust Pangolin in the wild

WASHINGTON—Under a new legal agreement, the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service will decide whether pangolins, the world’s most trafficked mammals, should be protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act.

The agreement, approved today by a federal judge, requires the agency to decide by June 2021. It responds to a petition and subsequent lawsuit filed by conservation groups to force the government to make a decision on pangolins and ultimately ensure the United States fully bans pangolin trade.

Pangolins, the world’s only scaly mammal, inhabit Asia and Africa. Pangolins are in grave danger of extinction. Their scales are in high demand in traditional Chinese medicine, and their meat is consumed as a delicacy in some Asian countries.

“It’s a relief to see the U.S. stepping up to protect these unique creatures from the international wildlife trade,” said Sarah Uhlemann, international program director at the Center for Biological Diversity. “Pangolins are on the razor’s edge of extinction, and we have to do our part to save these odd but charming animals. Listing pangolins as endangered would zero-out the U.S. market.”

Between 2004 and 2014, more than a million pangolins were illegally traded—an average of nearly 300 animals killed per day. Despite a 2017 ban on international commercial trade in pangolins, illegal trade has continued and likely increased: the largest seizure ever occurred in Singapore in 2019, representing tens of thousands of dead pangolins.

“We are pleased that the U.S. has committed to taking these long-overdue steps to protect pangolins, which remain mostly unprotected under the Endangered Species Act despite being pushed to the brink of extinction by poachers,” said Adam Peyman, wildlife programs and operations manager for Humane Society International. “Listing will strengthen the nation’s capacity to combat the domestic market for pangolin products, which contributes to poaching and trafficking worldwide.”

While most illegally sourced pangolins are destined for markets in China and Vietnam, a U.S. market remains. Authorities seized least 26,000 imports of pangolin products in the United States between 2004 and 2013, and a 2015 report by Humane Society International found “medicinal” products containing or likely to contain pangolin parts openly for sale online and at U.S. stores.

“For the last half decade, we have been fighting for increased protections for pangolins and urging the U.S. government to take action and responsibility. We’re pleased to see the light at the end of this tunnel. The Endangered Species Act is the strongest tool we have to stave off extinction of our most imperiled species. As the world’s most trafficked mammal, it’s past time pangolins were protected by this bedrock law,” said Angela Grimes, CEO of Born Free USA.

One pangolin species, the Temminck’s ground pangolin, is already protected under the U.S. Endangered Species Act. Under today’s agreement, the Fish and Wildlife Service commits to decide whether the other seven pangolin species should be treated as endangered by June 2021.

“The United States must not be complicit in the brazen trade of these innocent animals,” said Zak Smith, director of international wildlife conservation at the Natural Resources Defense Council. “As pangolins face extinction in the midst of a global biodiversity crisis, this is an important step. But to increase the pangolins’ chance of survival, the agency must follow the science and law, and ultimately grant pangolins protection under the Endangered Species Act.”

If pangolins are protected as endangered, the law bans import and interstate sale of pangolin parts in the United States, except for scientific or other conservation purposes. Listing would also heighten global awareness about pangolins and the threats they face and make funding available for anti-trafficking and habitat conservation efforts.


Media contacts:

Nancy Hwa, Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States, (202) 596-0808,
Sarah Uhlemann, Center for Biological Diversity, (206) 327-2344,
Karen Lauria, Born Free USA, (917) 783-3480,
Daniela Arellano, NRDC, (310) 434-2304,

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.


Media contact: Nancy Hwa, Humane Society International,, 202-596-0808 (cell)

Humane Society International / United States


WASHINGTON—Humane Society International and the Humane Society of United States have supported a fast-track research grant for non-animal approaches to investigate mechanisms, medicines and vaccines for the novel coronavirus and COVID-19, sponsored by the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing at the Johns Hopkins Bloomberg School of Public Health. The organizations believe that understanding the biological mechanisms that make humans especially susceptible to COVID-19 is urgently needed to inform the development and evaluation of effective countermeasures.

Laboratory investigations of human disease often attempt to artificially reproduce a condition in animals. Since the World Health Organization declared COVID-19 a pandemic, a flood of studies have described infecting mice, hamsters, ferrets, monkeys and other animals with COVID-19. Yet most report that the animals used were either immune to the new virus, or manifested symptoms that differ substantially from the human condition, including in the most severe clinical outcomes. In addition, the animal-based approach is limited in its ability to predict the impact of comorbidities— the presence of two chronic diseases—in COVID-19 patients, or how the various treatments could impact or worsen the infection.

“We have great faith in the Johns Hopkins Center for Alternatives to Animal Testing as a source of funding for research with the potential to spare humans, as well as animals in laboratories, from suffering caused by COVID-19,” says Kitty Block, president and CEO of HSUS and CEO of HSI.

The two organizations’ donation of $20,000 to the CAAT grant program aims to stimulate innovative and inherently human-relevant solutions for COVID-19. Models based on human biology—from cell and tissue cultures to complex organoids, organs-on-a-chip and computational tools—can help scientists understand the mechanisms of disease progression and rapidly identify interventions that are effective and safe in a human biological environment.

The groups previously released a multi-pronged policy plan for preventing another global health crisis like COVID-19.

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Media contacts:

  • HSUS: Emily Ehrhorn, Senior Specialist of Media Relations,, 301.258.1423
  • JHU: Michael Hughes, CATT communications manager,, 410.614.4920

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

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“There is no future in this dog meat industry,” says farmer Kim

Humane Society International / Global

Jean Chung/for HSI Dogs are shown locked in a cage at a dog meat farm in Hongseong, South Korea, on Saturday, February 8, 2020.

SEOUL—More than 70 dogs found languishing on a South Korean dog meat farm by animal charity Humane Society International have been given a second chance by the farmer’s decision to quit the dog meat industry once and for all. Mr. Nakseon Kim has been breeding dogs for nearly 40 years, but he jumped at the chance to leave dog farming behind when HSI offered to help him start a new life growing cabbages and other vegetables instead.

Amid growing South Korean opposition to eating dogs and a series of new regulations and court rulings cracking down on the industry, farmers like Mr. Kim are increasingly looking for an exit strategy but with one request – to save their dogs. After years of sending the animals to slaughter, Mr. Kim is not the first farmer to be relieved to learn that HSI rescues, rehabilitates and seeks happy homes for all the dogs.

“It may sound odd but I started dog farming because I like dogs,” said Mr. Kim, “I’ve never actually been a big fan of dog meat myself. I had a few dogs so I began breeding them and when I had 20 or 30 I started to sell them because I thought it would be good money but it hasn’t really worked out that way. I earn nothing from this dog farm, and pressure from the government is increasing and it’s not a good business at all.”

On his property in Hongseong, Mr. Kim breeds tosas, Jindos, poodles, beagles, huskies, golden retrievers, Pomeranians, Chihuahuas and Boston terriers for two abusive industries – the meat trade and the puppy mill trade. In rows of dilapidated cages, surrounded by animal waste, junk and garbage, some dogs are destined for the slaughterhouse, and others the unscrupulous puppy mill trade. Despite Korea’s dog meat industry attempting to claim a difference between pet dogs and “meat dogs”, the reality is they are all just dogs whose fate ultimately depends on where greatest profits can be made.

Nara Kim, HSI/Korea’s dog meat campaigner, said: “Unfortunately, it is still very common in South Korea to see live puppies for sale in pet shop windows. But what most Koreans will be shocked to learn is that these same puppies could easily have ended up being killed for human consumption instead. Whether they live or die, they are all born in this miserable place, their mothers intensively bred over and over until they are exhausted and eventually sold to slaughterhouses. I’m so glad that this nightmare has ended for these lovely dogs, but until the government commits to phase out this dreadful industry, the nightmare continues for millions more. As Koreans we need to be their voice and call for an end to the dog farming and dog meat industries.”

Marking the 16th dog farm that HSI has closed since its farmer transition program began in 2015, all the dogs will eventually be flown to partner shelters in Canada and the United States to seek adoptive homes. First, they are being relocated to a temporary boarding facility in South Korea while the organization waits for COVID-19 travel restrictions to relax. Once safely off the farm, the dogs will immediately receive a full veterinary check-up and settle into their temporary quarters where they can begin their rehabilitation.

HSI hopes its model for change will hasten an end to the controversial and cruel industry by demonstrating to the Korean government that a farmer-supported phase out of farms can work.

Mr. Kim said: “It’s too much work and I’ve got too old to be doing this for no profit. I just want to get some rest from all of this now. I’ve had enough, especially now that I have to pay for dog food since the local school decided to stop giving me free kitchen waste. I don’t think there are many people in South Korea who are willing to run dog meat farms anymore. There is no future in this dog meat industry. Once HSI helps me close my dog farm, I think I will start to grow crops instead like lettuce, cabbage, or other greens to sell to restaurants. That’s a business with a future.”

Dog meat consumption has been steadily declining in South Korea, and is banned or severely restricted in Hong Kong, Taiwan, Thailand, Singapore and the Philippines. In 2018 both Indonesia and Vietnam’s capital city Hanoi pledged an end to the dog meat trade, and most recently in April 2020 the Chinese cities of Shenzhen and Zhuhai banned dog and cat meat consumption following a public statement by the Chinese government that dogs are considered companions and not livestock. As global pressure builds for countries across Asia to permanently close wildlife wet markets amid coronavirus risks, the array of undeniable human health risks posed by the dog meat trade in South Korea and across Asia, is strengthening calls for action across the continent.


  • Up to 2 million dogs a year are bred and raised on thousands of dog meat farms across South Korea.
  • Dog meat consumption is declining in South Korea, particularly among younger generations, and most Koreans don’t eat it regularly. A June 2018 survey by Gallup Korea showed that 70% of South Koreans say they will not eat dog meat in future. Still, dog meat remains popular during the Bok days of summer in July and August based on its perceived curative properties during the hot and humid summer months.
  • There has been a series of recent crackdowns by authorities to curb the dog meat industry. In November 2018, HSI/Korea assisted Seongnam City Council in shutting down Taepyeong dog slaughterhouse (the country’s largest dog slaughterhouse), 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”. Most recently, last November HSI’s partner group Korea Animal Rights Advocates (KARA) won a Supreme Court case against a dog farmer who electrocuted dogs in violation of the Animal Protection Act, a judgement that could have huge implications for an industry that relies almost entirely on this brutal and protracted killing method.
  • HSI has rescued more than 2,000 dogs from South Korea’s meat industry. 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 broll video and photos of the rescue.


Media contacts
United Kingdom and international media: Wendy Higgins,, +44 (0)7989 972 423
United States: Nancy Hwa,, 1-202-596-0808
South Korea: Nara Kim,

Humane Society International / Global

HSI HSI/India responds to the COVID-19 pandemic in Lucknow, India.

WASHINGTON— Family-owned Mars, Incorporated has donated $1 million to animal welfare organization Humane Society International for its global companion animal programs. The donation is a part of Mars’ initial $20 million cash and in-kind donations to aid communities across the globe during the COVID-19 crisis. HSI will use the funds in targeted countries to help keep companion animals in their homes, to assist shelters taking in abandoned or surrendered animals, and to provide for street dogs and cats who are not able to be fed by their communities during this time.

“We are incredibly grateful to Mars for this generous donation, which recognizes that our companion animals are a vital part of our families,” said HSI President Jeffrey Flocken. “They are a source of comfort and unwavering affection, particularly in difficult times. As the world struggles with this pandemic, these critically needed funds will directly help dogs and cats who are suffering as a result of the coronavirus crisis, be it starving dogs on the streets in India, Chile and elsewhere, or shelters in need of vital supplies in South Africa and beyond.”

“It’s vital that businesses like ours do our part to ensure the continued health and well-being of the people, pets and communities most affected by COVID-19, which is why Mars Incorporated has committed $20 million in relief to vulnerable populations across the world,” said Poul Weihrauch, President, Mars Global Petcare. For those of us fortunate enough to have animals in our lives, the companionship, love and comfort they bring has probably never felt more important. That’s why we are pleased to provide $1 million in support to HSI, an organization dedicated to providing critical support to the millions of vulnerable pets across the world.”

HSI is strategically deploying the grant to provide the greatest impact for animals at risk or suffering as a result of this global crisis. Recognizing that each country is experiencing the effects of the pandemic on a different timeline and faces different animal welfare needs, the relief effort will be conducted in phases. Phase 1 will focus on the most urgent needs in eight geographic areas:  Chile, China, Guyana, India, Mauritius, Morocco, South Africa and the Middle East region. HSI already has a presence and/or existing relationships with local organizations and governments in these locations, which will help to maximize the campaign’s impact.

The range of work will include:

  • Assisting residents to enable them to keep their animals at home;
  • Helping shelters that face shortages of food and supplies while dealing with increased numbers of animals surrendered or abandoned by owners who can longer care for them;
  • Tending to community animals who have lost their usual sources of food and medical care as a result of lockdown policies;
  • Working with governments to ensure companion animals are incorporated into pandemic emergency plans by designating veterinary services as essential and allowing advocates to rescue animals in need during lockdowns; and
  • Promoting accurate and useful information about appropriate animal welfare for cats and dogs during the pandemic.

HSI estimates that Phase 1 will help more than 20,000 animals. Subsequent phases of the campaign will be determined as the crisis spreads to new areas or intensifies in current areas, and the needs shift.

An additional component of the campaign involves engaging Mars Associates through volunteer opportunities to make a tangible difference for dogs and cats affected by the pandemic. Opportunities include reaching out to local shelters to offer assistance, encouraging their networks to adopt and foster shelter animals, and virtual engagement and support of the Mars-HSI initiative to help animals in need during the COVID-19 crisis.

“We are immensely proud to work with Mars on this effort,” said Flocken. “Mars’ commitment to animals and the people who love and care for them has never been more evident than it is now, during this unprecedented time.”

Download photos and video of animals affected by the pandemic.


Nancy Hwa, Humane Society International,, 202-596-0808
Kimberly West, Mars, Incorporated, Director of External Communications,


HSI and its partner organizations together constitute one of the world’s largest animal protection organizations. 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. and @hsiglobal.