MONTREAL—More than 50 dogs on a South Korean dog meat farm have escaped the cooking pot barely a month before the start of the Bok Nal summer season, during which more than one million dogs are eaten as ‘bosintang’ soup. Humane Society International has worked in South Korea for three years, permanently closing dog meat farms and helping farmers switch to alternative livelihoods as part of its strategy to demonstrate that the cruel trade can be phased out.
HSI reached an agreement with the facility’s owner, who has bred dogs for human consumption for four years in Namyangju-si, Gyeonggi-do, but now plans to expand his more profitable water parsley business. This will be the 12th dog meat farm closed down by HSI, which has so far flown more than 1,300 dogs to Canada, the U.S. and the UK to receive critical care and to have the opportunity to find forever homes.
These latest 50 dogs—including terrier crosses, Jindo mixes and Labrador mixes—are in the process of being transported to Humane Society International/Canada’s emergency shelter in Montreal, where they will receive urgently needed veterinary care, nutrition and socialization. Meanwhile, back in South Korea, HSI’s Seoul-based campaigners are publicizing the images from the farm to raise awareness as the Bok Nal season approaches and dog meat soup appears on menus more frequently.
Rebecca Aldworth, executive director for HSI/Canada, said: “My heart broke when I walked onto this dog meat farm. Multiple dogs were crammed into barren wire cages, with no protection from the elements. Some dogs had scarring and injuries from fights with cage mates due to the intense frustration and boredom of living inside small, confined cages day in and day out. They had subsisted on a stomach-turning slop made from ground up restaurant waste, and they never received fresh water. Most dogs were absolutely terrified, but as we moved them out of their cages, they seemed to know we were there to help them. Thanks to our incredible supporters, these wonderful dogs will all be safe now, and will get the care and love they so badly need.”
HSI/South Korea senior policy manager Borami Seo stated, “This farm is typical of many smaller dog meat farms we see across South Korea – dilapidated cages, squalid conditions, dogs in appalling conditions, some barely clinging to life when our rescue team arrives. It’s vital that we show Koreans the grim reality of these places because most people have no idea and are really horrified. Although the practice of eating dog is on the decline, and we anticipate it will ultimately die out, during the Bok Nal days of summer we still see an increase in people eating dog meat soup. We hope to change that by exposing the disgusting and cruel conditions, and we hope also to influence the government as a growing number of South Koreans are calling on our politicians to shut down this brutal trade.”
The owner of the dog meat facility, Mr. Shin, was eager to join HSI’s dog meat farm closure program after hearing from other former dog farmers working with the charity. With profits from dog farming dwindling, and his water parsley business booming, Mr Shin realised that the dog eating business is a dead-end industry. Once HSI rescues the dogs, the cages will be dismantled and Mr Shin will focus full time on his crop growing.
More than 2.5 million dogs are reared on thousands of dog meat farms across South Korea each year. Many of the dogs in HSI’s latest rescue are suffering from painful skin diseases and swollen paws that will be treated in Canada. One of the rescued dogs, a cocker spaniel named Louis, was abandoned as a pet dog, and despite living in terrible conditions, he is still very loving and craves human affection. Another dog on the farm, Kaya, is a wonderful Jindo mix and a devoted mum to puppies HSI hopes will soon forget their sad days spent on a dog meat farm.
These rescues would not be possible without the tireless and generous support of Friends of HSI, the Eric S. Margolis Family Foundation, La Fondation Emmanuelle Gattuso, Sharp Transportation, and our incredible shelter staff and volunteers.
- The Bok Nal days are not a festival or single event, but the three hottest days spanning the summer months according to the lunar calendar, this year falling on July 17 (Cho Bok), July 27 (Jung Bok) and August 16 (Mal Bok).
- Bok Nal accounts for 70-80 percent of the dog meat eaten in South Korea, mainly as a soup called bosintang that is believed to improve stamina and virility.
- In addition to their life of suffering on the farm, the method used to kill the dogs is brutal – death by electrocution is most common, with dogs usually taking up to five minutes to die, (and there have been recorded instances of dogs taking up to 20 minutes to die). Hanging is also practiced. Dogs are killed in full view of other dogs.
- 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.
- In China, Vietnam, Indonesia, India and other places across Asia an estimated 30 million dogs are killed and eaten each year. However, Hong Kong, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore have dog meat bans in place.
- At each dog meat farm closure, HSI has a veterinarian test for the presence of the H3N2, or dog flu, virus at the time the dogs receive their vaccinations. 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.
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