LONDON – Six dogs saved from the dog meat trade in South Korea have arrived safely in the United Kingdom to start their search for new homes. Spaniel mix Maisie, Boston terrier Winston, and jindo mixes Pumpkin, Oscar, Bella and Molly were languishing on a dog meat farm in Gyeonggi-do Province when Humane Society International closed the facility and saved the more than 90 dogs on the property. The closure was HSI’s 15th dog farm shut down, part of the charity’s pioneering program helping dog farmers who want to leave the increasingly controversial industry.
There are thousands of dog farms across South Korea supplying live dogs to slaughterhouses, markets and restaurants for human consumption, but the trade has been in decline over the past several years as attitudes and appetites are changing. As a result, many dog meat farmers are increasingly eager to exit the trade and approach HSI for help. They each sign a legal contract with the charity to relinquish the dogs, destroy all the cages, and never farm dogs or any animal again. The charity provides a small start-up grant to transition farmers to an alternative livelihood such as mushroom growing, water delivery, water parsley farming and other more humane trades.
The UK arrivals are among the almost 2,000 dogs that HSI has rescued so far from South Korea’s dog meat industry and rehomed in the United States and Canada, with 30 dogs from previous farm closures also already settled in the UK with forever families. They include Bindi the Chihuahua cross and spaniel/shih tzu mix Robin adopted by Good Morning Britain presenter Pip Tomson. Since being rescued by HSI, Bindi and Robin have met a host of stars as campaign ambassadors, including Simon Cowell, Ricky Gervais and Paul O’Grady. TV vet and PupAid founder Marc Abraham, and world-respected dog trainer Victoria Stilwell, flew out to South Korea with HSI to witness the latest rescue first-hand.
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Claire Bass, executive director of HSI/UK, who was part of the rescue team in South Korea, said: “These facilities intensively breed dogs in barren, factory farm-style caging, appallingly deprived conditions that no animal of any species should ever have to endure. Our dog farm closures not only shine a spotlight on that cruelty and contribute to wider efforts in the country for policy change, but they also provide a lifeline for these frightened but friendly dogs to start new lives. Our six new arrivals are all settling in their foster homes while our shelter partner Chimney Farm Rescue matches them with forever families. It’s wonderful to know that instead of a cold, metal cage now have soft, warm beds and can start to put the dog meat trade behind them.”
Most people in South Korea don’t regularly eat dog, and a survey by Gallup Korea in June 2018 showed that 70% of South Koreans say they will not eat dog meat in future. There have also been a series of recent crackdowns by local authorities on dog slaughterhouses, dog meat shops and dog meat markets. Last year the city council in Seongnam closed down Taepyeong, the largest dog slaughterhouse in the country. This was followed by the closure of Gupo dog meat market in July this year led by the mayor of Busan. Most recently the mayor of Seoul and the Seoul Metropolitan Government negotiated with dog meat shops in the city to end all on-site dog slaughter as part of a wider effort to make Seoul dog meat-free.
Nara Kim, HSI/Korea’s dog meat campaigner, said: “Contrary to popular belief, most Koreans these days don’t eat dog meat and would find the idea of eating dogs quite upsetting. This is one of the reasons why many dog farmers are keen for HSI to help them leave the trade and start a new life. Thanks to awareness raising by HSI/Korea and other local groups, the cruelty that these dogs endure is no longer hidden, and Koreans are really starting to speak out and demand change.”
Chimney Farm Rescue is not accepting new adoption enquiries for the six dogs at this time due to the volume of enquiries already received, but potential adopters should check their website.
Jenn Gilbert, founder of Chimney Farm Rescue, says: “As the founder of Chimney Farm we try to help all dogs in need, and the dog meat trade has always played heavily on my heart. So to be asked to help Humane Society International/UK was an honour. The six dogs who arrived – Bella, Winston, Molly, Maisie, Pumpkin and Oscar – are just amazing dogs, and after all they have endured they are settling into UK life amazingly. Out for walks, cuddling up to humans, lying in comfortable beds, just how all dogs should live. All the dogs have a thorough medical and then we can start to look for the best homes possible.”
- Around 30 million dogs and 10 million cats a year are killed across Asia for eating, with the trade most widespread in China, South Korea, Indonesia, Cambodia, Laos, Viet Nam and parts of northern India. However, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore have dog meat bans in place.
- South Korea is the only country known to factory-farm dogs for eating, with an estimated 2 million dogs reared on thousands of farms each year. Elsewhere across Asia dogs are snatched from the streets or stolen as pets for the trade. It is estimated that as many as 2 million dogs a year are bred on these farms.
- Dogs are mainly killed by electrocution, taking up to five minutes to die. Hanging is also practiced despite being illegal.
- HSI finds many different dog breeds at these farms, including beagles, golden retrievers, Labradors, huskies and spaniels alongside the more traditional tosas and jindos.
- Dog meat remains popular during the Bok days of summer (Bok Nal) in July and August, when it is eaten as a soup called bosintang. Small dogs can also be made into a herbal drink called gaesoju.
- At each dog meat farm closure, HSI’s veterinarian vaccinates all the dogs against several diseases, including dog flu, rabies, 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 for at least 30 days prior to transport overseas. The dogs have also been tested for leishmania, heartworm and Ehrlichia.
United Kingdom: Wendy Higgins: firstname.lastname@example.org, +44 (0)7989 972 423
For more information on our campaign, visit www.hsi.org/dogmeat