MONTREAL—Humane Society International’s rescue team is on the ground in South Korea during National Dog Week to save 90 dogs and puppies from the horrors of the dog meat trade. Sixty-four of them will be flown to Toronto and immediately transported to the HSI/Canada–Friends of HSI emergency shelter in Montreal where they will be cared for and rehabilitated prior to adoption.
This is the 15th dog farm HSI has permanently closed thanks to a pioneering program that helps dog farmers who want to leave this increasingly controversial industry. This particular facility is located in Gyeonggi-do province, just one of thousands of such farms across the country supplying live dogs to slaughterhouses and markets for human consumption.
HSI/Canada executive director Rebecca Aldworth stated: “These poor dogs have spent the entirety of their lives locked up and neglected in this appalling dog meat facility, forced to live without even the most basic of care. Many of them were found dehydrated, malnourished, and exhibiting untreated injuries and skin conditions. Here in Canada, our team of experts and volunteers will give these deserving dogs the love and care they so badly need. Hope is finally here.”
Rescuers encountered several breeds typical of the trade, such as tosas and jindos, alongside a chow-chow, golden retriever, several terrier mixes and two Boston terriers, all destined for slaughter. Most had endured miserable lives in cramped and barren wire frame cages, while others were chained alone. The farmer admitted to selling puppies to dog fighters; despite being illegal, dog fighting persists in South Korea.
Nara Kim, HSI/Korea’s dog meat campaigner added: “More Koreans than ever before are speaking out against the dog meat industry, and pressure is building on the government to phase out this cruel business. As a Korean and an adopter of a dog meat trade survivor, I know what a difference HSI’s program can make in hastening an end to the suffering.”
HSI’s unique program works with dog farmers to rescue their dogs and transition their businesses to more humane and profitable enterprises such as crop growing or water delivery. The farmer signs a 20-year contract, stipulating they must not breed dogs or any animals again, and the cages are demolished to ensure that no animals will suffer on the property in future.
Recent moves by authorities to curb the dog meat trade reflect how Korean society is increasingly ill at ease with the industry. In November 2018, HSI/Korea assisted the Seongnam city council in shutting down Taepyeong, the largest dog slaughterhouse in the country, and in July this year HSI/Korea worked with other Korean animal groups and the Busan city council to close down the Gupo dog meat market. HSI’s voluntary phase-out model can be adopted nationwide with state support and end the industry for good.
- An estimated 2 million dogs a year are reared on thousands of dog meat farms across South Korea.
- Dogs are mainly killed by electrocution, taking up to five minutes to die. Hanging is also practiced despite being illegal.
- Dog meat consumption is declining rapidly in South Korea, particularly among younger generations. According to a June 2018 survey by Gallup Korea, 70 percent of South Koreans say they will not eat dog meat in future.
- Most people in South Korea don’t regularly eat dog, but it remains popular during the Bok days of summer (Bok Nal) in July and August, when it is eaten as a soup called bosintang.
- The dog meat industry is in legal limbo in South Korea, neither legal nor illegal. Many provisions of the Animal Protection Act are routinely breached, such as the ban on killing animals in a brutal way including hanging by the neck, and on killing them in public areas or in front of other animals of the same species.
- At each dog meat farm closure, HSI’s veterinarian vaccinates all 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 for at least 30 days prior to transport overseas.