Humane Society International / South Korea

Jean Chung/For HSI

SEOUL—One month after the South Korean government announced a bill to ban the dog meat industry, 27 dogs rescued from a dog meat farm in Asan, Chungcheongnam-do have flown to the United States in search of loving homes. At the time of rescue in March this year by animal charity Humane Society International/Korea, these dogs—including Bumblebee, Parker, Trudy, Bruno and Mia—had not even been born yet when HSI/Korea saved their pregnant mums. Although previously too young to fly overseas, Nana, Nadia, Corbin, Covy Chico and the others are now old enough to make the journey. Mother dogs Raspberry and Zelda will also fly with their grown pups.

All had been fated to be killed for their meat as part of an industry that breeds and slaughters up to 1 million dogs a year for human consumption. They were saved as part of a 200-dog rescue when HSI/Korea worked with the farmer, who wanted to leave dog farming behind him and convert his land into a self-sufficient crop field growing cabbages and other vegetables.

With five legislative bills to ban the dog meat industry, and now the commitment of a government-backed bill, HSI/Korea says these 27 dogs are a reminder to policy makers that campaigners are counting the days for politicians to take action on a ban. The latest opinion surveys by Nielsen Korea in 2023 show that most South Koreans (87.5%) don’t eat dog meat and 56% support a ban.

Sangkyung Lee, HSI/Korea’s End Dog Meat campaign manager, helped rescue the dogs and said: “The dog meat farm where these 28 pups came from was a hellish scene. Some 200 dogs were locked in barren, metal cages in squalid conditions thick with feces, many suffering from malnutrition as well as painful skin and eye diseases. Thankfully, most of these 27 were too young to remember the trauma of those days, and it makes me so happy to know that they will soon be embraced with new names and cherished as loved family members in the United States. It’s one month since the South Korean government pledged to ban the dog meat industry, with each one of these dogs symbolising a day that we have waited for political action. We need to get this ban done so that no more dogs have to suffer for a meat that virtually no-one wants to eat.”

Since 2015, HSI/Korea’s Models for Change program has helped dog farmers in South Korea transition to new, more humane and profitable livelihoods such as chili plant and parsley growing or water truck delivery. HSI/Korea has permanently closed 18 dog meat farms so far and rescued more than 2,700 dogs who have flown to the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom to find homes, with a small number rehomed in South Korea.

After arrival in the United States, the 27 dogs will be settled at the charity’s care and rehabilitation center near Washington, D.C., where they will receive the love and comfort the dog meat industry denied them, including soft beds, nutritious food, toys, veterinary care and rehabilitation. After this initial phase, they will be transferred to shelter and rescue partners where they will be prepared for adoption into loving homes.

HSI’s rescues are conducted in compliance with national and local COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Following removal from farms, dogs were evaluated by a veterinarian. They were vaccinated against rabies, distemper, hepatitis, parvovirus, parainfluenza, leptospira, and canine influenza, and screened for respiratory illness as needed to ensure the health of each animal and comply with international export and import requirements.

Download Images of the Dogs Leaving South Korea at Incheon Airport

Download Images of the Dog Farm Rescue


Media contact: Haewon Lee, HSI/Korea media and communications specialist:

Owner supports Humane Society International’s campaign to ban the cat meat trade in Viet Nam

Humane Society International

Chau Doan/AP Images for HSI

THAI NGUYEN , Viet Nam—Twenty cats and kittens who were due to be drowned at a slaughterhouse in Thai Nguyen, Viet Nam, have been given a second chance at life after the owner asked animal charity Humane Society International’s local team for help to close his business for good. Thirty-seven-year-old Mr. Pham Quoc Doanh had run his cat meat restaurant and slaughterhouse for five years, drowning up to 300 cats a month to serve to customers as a dish called ‘thịt mèo’ (cat meat) and ‘tiểu hổ’ or ‘little tiger’. Regret at killing the animals, and particularly the knowledge that many were stolen pets, led him to resolve to get out of the trade for good.

The closure of Mr. Doanh’s business and the rescue of the cats is part of HSI’s Viet Nam Models for Change program, launched in the country last year after successfully operating in South Korea since 2015. The program has so far closed down two dog slaughterhouse/restaurants and one cat slaughterhouse/restaurant in Thai Nguyen.

Mr. Doanh said: “For a while now I have felt a genuine desire to leave the cruel cat meat business and switch to something else as soon as possible. When I think of all the thousands of cats I’ve slaughtered and served up here over the years, it’s upsetting. Cat theft is so common in Viet Nam that I know many of the cats sold here were someone’s loved family companion, and I feel very sorry about that. It makes me happy to know that thanks to HSI, my wife and I can now put the cat meat trade behind us and start afresh, still serving my local community but no longer as part of this brutal and crime-fuelled trade. I want to see a ban on the dog and cat meat trade in Viet Nam.”

With a one-time grant provided by HSI, Mr. Doanh is setting up a grocery store. As part of the agreement, he signed over to HSI the remaining 20 cats and kittens at his slaughterhouse so that they could be rescued and placed for local adoption. HSI rescuers removed the traumatized cats from the property on the final day of business and watched as Mr. Doanh tore down the restaurant’s “cat meat” signage, symbolising his exit from the cat meat trade.

Quang Nguyen, Humane Society International’s Viet Nam companion animals and engagement program manager, said: “We are thrilled to be closing down our first cat meat trade business in Viet Nam, and hope it will be the first of many as more people like Mr. Doanh turn away from this cruel trade. Although most Vietnamese people don’t eat cat meat, the belief still persists that consumption can cure bad luck, and the scale of the suffering is astonishing. These 20 lucky cats and kittens have escaped a terrible fate and will be found loving homes, but our work continues to see a nationwide ban on the cat meat trade that brings such pain and distress to so many.”

An estimated one million cats a year are killed for meat in Viet Nam, all stolen pets and strays snatched from the streets. Traders use food baits to lure the cats into homemade spring-loaded snares. Polls show that an astonishing 87% of people have either had a pet stolen or have an acquaintance whose pet has been stolen. Pet theft is becoming a growing societal issue in Viet Nam, with the increasing animal-loving and pet owning population frustrated with the lack of law enforcement to protect their animals from unscrupulous thieves and traders. In addition to pet theft, truckloads of both live and slaughtered cats have also been reported coming across the China border. Cats (and dogs) are frequently trafficked incredible distances across Viet Nam, even in the baggage hold of passenger buses, often travelling for more than 24hours without rest, food or water in suffocating conditions, with many dying along the way.

A recent Nielsen opinion poll (Oct. 2023) commissioned by HSI shows that cat meat is consumed by a relative minority of the Vietnamese population (21%) with the majority (71%) in favour of a ban on both cat meat consumption and trade. By far the top reasons for not consuming dog and cat meat are a belief that they are companion animals and an aversion to animal cruelty.

All 20 cats rescued from Mr. Doanh’s slaughterhouse were taken to custom-made sheltering at Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture and Forestry where they were vaccinated against rabies and will receive medical care before being made available for local adoption.

Cat meat trade facts:

  • Cat meat dishes are particularly common around the capital, Hanoi, and in the northern province of Thai Binh.
  • In 2018, nine cooler boxes containing almost 1 ton of frozen cats was intercepted between Dong Nai province in the south and Thai Binh province in the north.
  • In 1998, the Prime Minister issued a directive banning the hunting, slaughtering and consumption of cats in efforts to encourage cat ownership to keep the rat population under control. However, little to no action was taken to combat the trade, and the directive was eventually repealed in 2020.

Download video and photos of the dog slaughterhouse closure operation.


Media contacts:

Nielsen’s online survey of Vietnamese citizens was conducted in September 2023 with recipients aged between 25–60 years old, with a total sample size of 800.

Humane Society International / Global


DUBAI, United Arab Emirates—We, the undersigned organizations, welcome the endorsement of more than 120 countries to the COP28 UAE Declaration on Climate and Health, which emphasizes the importance of integrating health into climate policies.

In particular, we appreciate the recognition of the climate benefits of “shifts to sustainable healthy diets.” This is a critical step forward, and important actions lie ahead to implement the Declaration’s objectives and promises.

The Climate and Health Declaration notes the importance of collaborating across “human, animal, environment, and climate health challenges.” Sustainable and healthy food systems are pivotal to this interdependence. With its poor animal husbandry systems, industrial animal agriculture can be a powerful incubator of diseases. The “One Health” approach is crucial in tackling issues such as zoonotic disease and antimicrobial resistance.

A decisive shift away from unsustainable food production practices associated with industrial animal agriculture is urgent. Equally crucial, is the definition and direction of the transition needed. Our current global food system fails to address the inequalities in our diets, resulting in issues such as hunger and obesity. The rising global consumption of animal-based foods negatively impacts health and breaches multiple planetary boundaries, namely climate, land use change, biodiversity loss, freshwater use and nitrogen and phosphorus pollution, thereby increasing the risk of disease.

The Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change notes the multiple benefits of a “transition to more plant-based consumption and reduced consumption of animal-based foods,” including benefits to biodiversity and forests as well as lowering risks of many non-communicable diseases. As an example, the IPCC states that shifts to healthy and sustainable plant-based diets could reduce emissions by up to 8 giga tonnes of carbon dioxide equivalent per year.

Countries must now act to support sustainable food production as well as sustainable diets—through public education, government legislation and fiscal incentives in order to deliver effective, long-term solutions. We look forward to working with governments to implement the Declaration in a way that delivers healthy, sustainable diets for people, animals and the planet.

COP28 is a decisive moment to drive ambitious action on climate and health. We must rise to the global challenges we face and convert words into action.

Signatories include: Aquatic Life Institute, Brighter Green, Compassion in World Farming, FOUR PAWS, Humane Society International, Mercy For Animals, Plant Based Treaty, Tzu Chi Foundation, ProVeg International and World Animal Protection.

Humane Society International / Italy


ROME—The leading Italian airline, ITA Airways, proudly announces its support of the campaign #NotInMyWorld of the global animal protection charity Humane Society International/Europe. The airline has adopted a new corporate policy that prohibits the transportation of hunting trophies on all company flights, both as cargo and as passenger baggage. This stands as a significant testament to the Company’s commitment to wildlife conservation, as well as a substantial contribution to ending trophy hunting and fostering business practices that acknowledge the global community’s responsibility for biodiversity protection.

Hundreds of thousands of animals globally, including endangered and threatened species, are killed by trophy hunters for amusement and boasting, contributing to the decline of wild populations, conservation challenges, and inhumane practices. Unlike subsistence hunting, the primary motivation for those engaged in this activity is to kill animals for competition and entertainment, targeting rare or highly sought-after animals for their physical characteristics (thick manes, long tusks, overall size, etc.) and turning them into trophies for display to showcase success in hunting. Considering that a significant number of trophy hunters who book overseas hunting trips intend to transport their macabre souvenirs back home, the transportation sector plays a key role in facilitating this ethically questionable and harmful industry.

On a national level, ITA Airways’ commitment holds particular significance since Italy ranks among the primary importers of hunting trophies in Europe. Between 2014 and 2021, 442 hunting trophies from mammals protected under CITES (Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species) were imported, including hippos, rhinos, elephants, and lions. These data reveal the country’s active involvement in the trophy hunting industry, despite a survey indicating that 86% of Italians oppose this practice, with 74% supporting a legislative ban on trophy imports.

By joining the campaign, ITA Airways has taken several measures including:

  • Addition of hunting trophies to the list of prohibited items: ITA Airways has expanded the list of prohibited items for transportation in both passenger baggage and cargo, expressly including hunting trophies. This clear prohibition ensures that such items are not accepted on ITA Airways flights.
  • Online publication of the policy: The hunting trophy policy has been published on the ITA Airways’ official website, providing transparency and accessibility to the new directives. This step reflects the Company’s commitment to open and responsible communication.
  • Update of operational manuals for cargo and ground procedures: ITA Airways has reviewed and updated its operations manuals, ensuring that the new provisions regarding hunting trophies are fully integrated into cargo procedures and ground operations.
  • Dissemination of the policy to staff, hubs, and suppliers: The new policy has been disseminated at all levels of the Company, including flight and ground staff, as well as suppliers and hubs where the airline operates. This dissemination ensures full understanding and adherence to the new provisions regarding hunting trophies.

Giovanna Di Vito, ITA Airways’ chief program office, ESG & Customer Operations, emphasizes “Our firm support for Humane Society International/Europe’s campaign to stop the import of hunting trophies into Italy and Europe reflects ITA Airways’ ongoing commitment to the planet, our country, and communities. Our Company’s new policy, which formalizes a ban on the carriage of hunting trophies on its flights, is a concrete action, our contribution to the protection of wildlife and the promotion of that protection. Indeed, we believe that companies have a key role in supporting and spreading ethical practices that represent real progress toward a more responsible and sustainable future.”

Martina Pluda, director of Humane Society International/Europe in Italy, states: “ITA Airways’ support to our campaign and their new policy represent a highly significant contribution to the goal of ending cruel trophy hunting. In fact, the corporate sector also plays a huge role in the collective action necessary to protect threatened wildlife globally. With HSI/Europe’s #NotInMyWorld campaign, we continue to strengthen our commitment to the preservation of endangered animal species and flora and for the introduction of bans on import, export and re-export of hunting trophies from protected animals in Italy and Europe.”

In addition to ITA Airways, an increasing number of airlines, cargo operators, and transport companies worldwide have adopted corporate policies against the transportation of hunting trophies. Please visit for an overview of all transport companies.

Visit  the new ITA Airways corporate policy 


Media contact:

  • HSI/Europe: Eva-Maria Heinen, communications & PR manager for HSI in Italy and Germany:; 3338608589
  • ITA Airways: Pietro Caldaroni, Head of Communication and Institutional relations;

Humane Society International / South Korea

CreativeNature_nl/ stock

SEOUL—Humane Society International/Korea and 346 South Korean academic and industry experts delivered a letter to the chair of National Assembly’s Health and Welfare Committee, Dong Kun Shin, urging the Korean government to pass bills promoting state-of-the-art science replacing animal testing.

With an increasing consensus among scientists recognizing the importance of providing systemic support in developing and implementing human-based non-animal methods, two bills were introduced at the National Assembly; the Act on the Promotion of Development, Dissemination and Use of Alternatives to Animal Testing Methods (PAAM Act), sponsored by Assembly member In-Soon Nam in 2020, and the Act on the Vitalization of Development, Dissemination, and Use of Alternatives to Animal Testing Methods (VAAM Act), sponsored by Assembly member Jeoung Ae Han in 2022.

Through a series of political forums to discuss these bills with authorities and wider stakeholders in the past few years, a general agreement has been established that South Korea is at a pivotal moment in advancing health and safety science without relying on animal models. To achieve this, the bills stipulate collaborative work between authorities by providing a basic plan every five years. In addition, a committee consisting of experts in alternative approaches to animal testing will be established pursuant to the Act.

One of the signatories of the letter, Professor Kyungmin Lim, at Ehwa University said: “As a researcher, I work closely with new method developers and end-users. I experience time and time again the need to have a legislation in Korea to support those scientists and a relevant network for collective efforts in developing and accepting alternative approaches to animal use.”

HSI/Korea’s director of government affairs, Borami Seo said: “There is an increasing interest in using modern technologies that are more predictive of human responses than animal models. Last May, ’Korea’s innovative strategic industry committee’ selected the cell-based human mimetic method organoid as an ‘innovative strategic technology’ and promised research and development support. We are witnessing an increasing demand for these technologies, and the PAAM Act and VAAM Act are exactly the bills that are crucial to ensure these research and development efforts lead to its regulatory uptake and industrial use in the field. Now is a critical time to pass this legislation.”


Media contact: Borami Seo

New regulations also ban import of hunting trophies containing these parts

Humane Society International / Canada

Waldo Swiegers/AP Images for HSI

OTTAWA, Ontario—The Canadian government has banned domestic trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn, as well as the import of hunting trophies containing these parts. The landmark measures fulfill a 2021 Ministerial mandate and are a critical step in protecting these iconic species. The move follows a seven-year campaign by Humane Society International/Canada and has overwhelming support from leading conservationists, animal protection groups, African nations and notable Canadians.

The African elephant population has declined by 96% over the last century, with scientists warning that they, as well as many rhinoceros species, could become extinct within the next few decades in the absence of global intervention to disincentivize poachers.

Those involved in the decision issue the following statements:

Steven Guilbeault, minister of Environment and Climate Change Canada, said: “Our government is committed to protecting, conserving and enhancing the world’s biodiversity, including reversing the global decline in elephant and rhinoceros populations. By strengthening Canada’s response to wildlife trafficking, we will enforce practical solutions that effectively address the illegal ivory trade and support species conservation. Canadians overwhelmingly support stricter controls and the Government of Canada is delivering.”

Kelly Butler, campaign manager for Humane Society International/Canada, stated: “Elephant and rhino populations have been decimated by global trade in their parts, and poaching causes considerable suffering to these incredible animals. In banning trade in elephant ivory and rhino horn, the Canadian government has shown considerable leadership and reflected the will of Canadians and the vast majority of African nations holding elephant populations. At last, Canadians can rest assured that our country is doing our part to ensure these majestic animals have a future.”

Dr. Winnie Kiiru, Kenyan biologist and leading elephant conservationist, said: “I am thrilled that Canada has enacted these urgently needed regulations in order to safeguard elephant and rhino populations. As a conservationist working on the ground in Kenya, I have seen firsthand the devastating effects of poaching and trophy hunting on African elephant and rhino populations. We need countries around the world to act now in order to protect these amazing animals, and Canada’s actions send an important message: ivory belongs to elephants.”

Dieudonné Yameogo, director of Wildlife and Game resources of Burkina Faso, stated: “Burkina Faso congratulates Canada on this historic decision. Canada follows in the footsteps of other countries, such as the USA, China, Hong Kong SAR and the EU, which have all closed or severely restricted their domestic ivory markets in recent years. This sends a very strong message to all traffickers and poachers: ivory has no market value, anywhere in the world! These measures taken by these various countries could lead to a significant drop in illegal elephant killings in all African elephant range states, and particularly in Burkina Faso.”

Bryan Adams, order of Canada recipient and one of the best-selling musicians of all time, stated: “As a long-time animal advocate, I am thrilled that Canada has listened to the overwhelming number of Canadians who demanded action to end the senseless killing of elephants and rhinos. The policies enacted by the Canadian government set a powerful precedent for countries around the world to join the fight to protect elephants and rhinos.”

Robert Bateman, renowned Canadian artist and conservationist, stated: “I have had the great privilege of observing wild African elephants and, like so many other Canadians, I am devastated by the prospect of their extinction and their ongoing suffering at the hands of humans. The survival of African elephants and rhinos hinges on the actions of the global community, and I commend Canada for enacting meaningful policies to safeguard these amazing animals for generations to come.”

The creators of The Anthropocene Project (Edward Burtynsky, Jennifer Baichwal and Nicholas de Pencier), who documented the largest elephant ivory burn in history, which took place in Kenya in 2016, stated: “The poaching of elephants for ivory—from which international criminal syndicates profit—and the ensuing decimation of African elephant populations is tragic. Witnessing Kenya’s ivory burn was a very powerful moment for all of us and a shocking reminder of the scale at which elephants are being slaughtered, day after day, year after year. We commend the Canadian government for ending its role in this terrible, destructive industry which perpetuates the devastation of elephant and rhino populations.”

Fran Duthie, president of Elephanatics, stated: “The team at Elephanatics is thrilled that regulations to ban the elephant ivory and rhino horn trade, along with the import of hunting trophies containing these parts, are to be enacted by the Canadian Government. We would like to thank all the scientists, NGOs, politicians and people who worked tirelessly to make this happen. From the petition created by the Ivory Free Canada coalition that reached over 700,000 signatures and showed overwhelming support to save elephants and rhinos, to endless advocacy, to the collaboration of like minds working together to save a species, our mission to ban the elephant ivory and rhino horn trade has come to fruition. It is a time to be grateful and to celebrate this grand achievement. We did it!”


  • As many as 25,000 elephants and 1,300 rhinos die at the hands of poachers in Africa every year.
  • In March 2021, the IUCN updated its Red List of Threatened Species and declared the African forest elephant to be Critically Endangered and the African savanna elephant to be Endangered. Black rhinos, found in Africa, are classified as Critically Endangered.
  • Canada’s top trading partners, including the United States, China and the United Kingdom, have closed their elephant ivory markets in response to declining elephant populations.
  • According to CITES data, over 450 African elephant tusks, 16 rhino horns, and an additional 81 elephant trophies and 44 rhino trophies were legally imported into Canada from 2010-2021.
  • In June of 2021, an open letter calling for an end to elephant ivory trade in Canada was signed by notable Canadians including Bryan Adams, Robert Bateman and David Suzuki.
  • The proposed regulations follow a public opinion consultation conducted by Environment and Climate Change Canada in the summer of 2021, in which Canadians and people from around the world overwhelmingly voiced their support for federal action to end Canada’s role in the elephant ivory trade.
  • According to a 2020 poll by Insights West, 94% of Canadians support an elephant ivory trade ban.
  • A public petition calling for a Canadian ban on elephant ivory trade amassed over 700,000 signatures.


Media contact: HSI/Canada: Dominique Davidson, senior communications officer:, 438-951-0350

Calls for fur import ban intensify as newly published letters reveal ban also has backing of the Scottish Government

Humane Society International / United Kingdom


LONDON—Animal protection organisation Humane Society International/UK has intensified calls for a UK fur import and sales ban following the publication of an email from former Environment Secretary George Eustice, which reveals that 96% of 30,000 respondents to the Government’s Call for Evidence on the fur market in Great Britain strongly agreed that it is wrong for animals to be killed for fur. 

An FOI request detailing correspondence between George Eustice and Mairi Gougeon, Scotland’s Cabinet Secretary for Rural Affairs, found that in December 2021 Eustice confirmed this result of the Call for Evidence and stated: “The Government will therefore take forward a ban on the import and sale of fur”. In February 2022, Gougeon confirmed in a reply that “The Scottish Ministers support, in principle, the initiative to prohibit the import and sale in Great Britain of fur to address the public moral objection to any rearing or killing of animals purely for their fur”. 

Humane Society International/UK, which leads the celebrity-backed #FurFreeBritain campaign, welcomed the news and renewed its call for the full results of the Call for Evidence to be published and for a UK fur import ban. Despite banning fur farming in 2003 on animal welfare grounds, the UK still imports and sells fur from other countries including Finland and China. HMRC records show that in 2022, the UK imported £41,970,308 of fur, which HSI/UK estimates to be equivalent to over one million animals. 

Claire Bass, senior director of campaigns and public affairs at Humane Society International/UK, said: “The Government ran a Call for Evidence on the UK fur trade in May 2021 and has been inexplicably sitting on the results ever since. Today it transpires that the evidence obtained is a slam-dunk in support of a ban, with 96% of respondents agreeing that it is wrong to kill animals for their fur. Based on this evidence, the Government confirmed that it would take forward a ban, and the Scottish Government confirmed its backing for one, and then—nothing. Nearly 30,000 people and organisations took the time to provide evidence, but over the last year Ministers haven’t shown willingness to let evidence lead progress on this policy. We urge the new Defra Secretary to release the results and then move forward with a ban. Fur is not only appalling for animals, but top British virologists have warned that fur farms are a ticking time bomb for pandemic disease risk. The UK should have no part in this cruel, unnecessary and dangerous trade.”

Defra’s Call for Evidence on the Fur Market in Great Britain was launched in May 2021 with the stated intention of using the findings to inform possible future action on the UK fur trade. Over two years on, despite repeated calls from MPs and animal protection organisations, Defra has yet to make the results publicly available. HSI/UK has submitted a further Freedom of Information request to gain access to the results. 

HSI/UK’s Fur Free Britain campaign, which calls for a UK fur import and sales ban, has gathered over 1.1 million petition signatures to date.  

Download Photo/B-roll from HSI’s Investigation on Chinese Fur Farms 


Media Contact: Sally Ivens, HSI/UK:; 07590 559299 


  • HSI/UK’s recent report on the environmental impact of the fur industry shows that fur is an unsustainable and inefficient material. 
  • In May 2023, 54 MPs wrote a letter to then Environment Secretary Thérèse Coffey, urging her department to publish its analysis of the response to the Call for Evidence, as well as to set out a policy position to deliver a ban on the import and sale of fur in Great Britain. 
  • Eighteen written questions, such as this one, asking about plans to ban fur imports were submitted to Defra by MPs in the last Parliamentary sessions. 
  • In response to a Westminster Hall debate on the import and sale of fur, held on 27 June 2023 and led by Giles Watling MP, Defra Minister Trudy Harrison said: “A summary of responses to the call for evidence, setting out the results and the next steps in this policy space, will be published very soon.” 
  • Leading British virologists Professor Wendy Barclay and Dr Thomas Peacock recently wrote an article in the scientific journal Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences (PNAS) highlighting the public health threat posed by the global fur trade, stating: “We strongly urge governments to also consider the mounting evidence suggesting that fur farming, particularly mink, be eliminated in the interest of pandemic preparedness. Fur farming should be in the same category of high-risk practices as the bushmeat trade and live animal markets. These activities all increase the likelihood of future pandemics.” 

The course, led by HSI/Mexico, aims to empower and educate first responders and other authorities on animal welfare in cases of cruelty and disaster

Humane Society International / Mexico


TEPIC, Nayarit—This week, Humane Society International/Mexico conducted a training aimed at strengthening Nayarit’s response to animal cruelty and disaster situations. The event brought together 75 participants from a diverse group, including personnel from 911 emergency services, public prosecutors, municipal and state police, civil protection and firefighters and members of the Nayarit State Commission for the Protection of Fauna.

The comprehensive training covered a spectrum of crucial topics, including receiving reports of animal abuse and how to triage, assessing animal welfare based on the scientific model of the five domains, combatting dogfighting and including pets in disaster prevention plans.

“We want to take this opportunity to extend our congratulations to the General Prosecutor’s Office of Nayarit for the recent establishment of the Specialized Public Prosecutor’s Office for Domestic Animal Abuse Crimes,” said Claudia Edwards, program manager at Humane Society International/Mexico. “We’re grateful to see the prosecutor’s office prioritizing the safety and welfare of animals.”

A small evacuation drill was also carried out by the attendees with the guidance of civil protection and state firefighters.


Owner Mr Hung works with Humane Society International as part of charity’s Models for Change program to exit the trade and start new business

Humane Society International

Chau Doan | AP Images for HSI

Forty-four dogs, including 19 puppies just days old, have been rescued from a dog meat fattening facility and slaughterhouse in Thai Nguyen, Viet Nam, after the owner had a change of heart and shut his shop for good. Mr Hung had bought, sold and slaughtered up to 20,000 dogs for the meat trade over the past seven years, but said that killing the animals weighed heavily on his conscience and he was relieved when animal charity Humane Society International offered him a way out as part of its Models for Change program. Mr Hung plans to open an agricultural store for local community crop farming. 

HSI’s rescue team assembled from Viet Nam, Indonesia and India to remove the 44 dogs from Mr Hung’s facility and transport them to custom-made sheltering at Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture and Forestry where they were vaccinated against rabies and will receive medical care and rehabilitation before being made available for local adoption. 

Most of the estimated five million dogs killed for meat annually in Viet Nam are stolen pets or strays snatched from the streets using poison bait, painful taser guns, pincers or ropes, or imported from surrounding countries such as Cambodia. However, the majority of Mr Hung’s dogs were sold to him by rural families who breed extra puppies at home to supplement their main income.  

Traders typically go village to village by motorbike or truck to collect puppies from rural communities. The young dogs are tightly packed into small cages and driven for hours to facilities such as Mr Hung’s for fattening up, many enduring dehydration, suffocation, heatstroke and even death on the journey.   

Prior to the closure with HSI, traders delivered around 50 puppies every one or two months to Mr Hung’s facility, where they were kept in filthy raised cages without veterinary care and fattened up for several weeks or months to reach a suitable slaughter weight to be sold as tht chó (dog meat).   

HSI’s research in other parts of Viet Nam uncovered the cruel practice of force-feeding dogs at some fattening facilities by forcing a tube down their throats and pouring rice directly into their stomachs. While Mr Hung claims never to have conducted force feeding, he is aware of the practice. As well as selling the dogs to local slaughterhouses and restaurants, Mr Hung also killed one or two dogs every day with a knife to the jugular or heart, in full view of other dogs. It was a cycle of suffering and brutality that Mr Hung said finally broke his heart.  

Mr Hung told HSI’s Viet Nam team: “I looked into their pleading eyes and saw their tails nervously wagging as I approached, and each time it got harder to do. They came to me as happy little puppies so full of life, but soon became traumatized and afraid. It just broke my heart in the end. Dogs are so loyal and friendly, selling or killing them felt like a betrayal that weighed heavily on my conscience. When I heard that HSI’s Models for Change program had helped another trader in Thai Nguyen close his dog meat slaughterhouse and restaurant last year, I was relieved to know there was a way for me to start my life over without having to kill animals for a living. I’m excited for my new business and to know that all my dogs will have the happy life they deserve with families who will look after them.”

As well as tackling the extreme animal cruelty inherent in the trade of dogs for human consumption, HSI’s program also helps crack down on the spread of the deadly rabies virus across Viet Nam. Rabies kills more than 70 people in Viet Nam each year, according to the World Health Organization, with most cases caused by dog bites and verified cases linked to dog slaughter and consumption. A high incidence of rabies-positive dogs has been documented in slaughterhouses in the capital city, Hanoi. Whether trafficked from neighboring countries, caught and driven hundreds of miles across Viet Nam or sold for slaughter by local households, the dog meat trade involves the mass movement and slaughter of dogs of unknown disease or vaccination status and as such jeopardizes efforts by officials to control the spread of the rabies.  

Phuong Tham, Humane Society International’s Viet Nam country director, said: “The dog meat trade is a cruel and dangerous business in Viet Nam, jeopardizing the health of the nation for profit, in breach of existing laws. Mr Hung is the second trader in Viet Nam to participate in our Models for Change program, which we hope will encourage the authorities to commit to a strategy to provide industry workers with alternative and economically viable livelihoods, while also supporting government efforts to eliminate rabies. While dog meat remains prevalent in some parts of the country, there is also increasing opposition to the practice among the rising pet loving population in Viet Nam who are frustrated by the lack of action taken against unscrupulous dog thieves and traders who steal people’s beloved companions. As the role dogs play in society changes, so too must legislation to protect them from cruelty and exploitation.” 

HSI’s Models for Change program began in Viet Nam last year after successfully operating in South Korea since 2015 where the charity has closed down 18 dog meat farms and helped build public and political support for a nationwide ban. HSI brought its Models for Change program to Viet Nam last year with the closure of a dog slaughterhouse and restaurant owned by a neighbor of Mr Hung. The closure inspired Mr Hung to contact the Thai Nguyen University of Agriculture and Forestry for help rehoming his dogs, which in turn asked HSI to provide expertise and resources to support the rescue and train local veterinarians for the long-term success of the rescue center.   

Dog meat facts: 

  • Viet Nam is home to the most prolific dog and cat meat trades in Southeast Asia, slaughtering an estimated five million dogs and one million cats each year. A belief by some consumers persists—despite no scientific evidence—that dog meat has medicinal properties and can increase male virility.   
  • HSI research suggests that dog meat is eaten by around 40% of the population but is not an expensive delicacy, costing from 150,000 – 200,000 VND ($6 – $8) per dish in Thai Nguyen. 
  • While the sale and consumption of dog meat is not illegal in Viet Nam, both the unregulated trans-provincial movement of dogs and pet theft are punishable offences. Officials in several cities including Hanoi and Hoi An have pledged to end the trade, but law enforcement is rare. 
  • Pet theft and the arrest of pet thieves is frequently reported in the Vietnamese media, and devastated pet owners often buy back their beloved companions if they are fortunate enough to locate them after capture. 
  • The link between rabies transmission and Viet Nam’s dog meat trade has been clearly identified by the WHOi. Data from Viet Nam’s National Institute of Hygiene and Epidemiology shows that a significant proportion of patients become infected with the virus after killing, butchering or eating dogs, as well as from bites. In 2018 and 2019, the authorities of Hanoi and Ho Chi Minh City respectively urged citizens not to consume dog meat to reduce their risk of disease transmission.  
  • Studies of brain samples of dogs collected from slaughterhouses in northern and southern provinces have also tested positive for the rabies virus.  
  • In July 2023, the People’s Committee of Dong Nai Province and HSI in Viet Nam signed a first-of-its-kind three-year agreement to work together to tackle the dog and cat meat trades by implementing a rabies vaccination program, discouraging dog and cat meat consumption through public awareness campaigns, supporting law enforcement’s anti-dog and cat trafficking activities, promoting companion animal welfare and helping dog and cat meat industry workers transition to alternative livelihoods.  

Download photos/video of the dog slaughterhouse closure operation


Black howler and spider monkeys, margay wild cat, emerald toucanet, opossums and owls among iconic species returned to the wild

Humane Society International / Latin America

Santiago Billy/AP Images for HSI

PETEN, Guatemala—Twenty-seven mammals and birds have been released back into the wild of the Guatemalan rainforest after being rescued and rehabilitated from illegal trafficking and cruelty incidents.

Non-governmental organizations Asociacion Rescate y Conservacion de Vida Silvestre, known locally as ARCAS, and Humane Society International/Latin America released the animals in the 13.3 million-acre Maya Biosphere Reserve in Petén, as part of a long-running joint project to tackle wildlife trafficking for the pet trade and other exploitative human activities. The animals include an endangered wild cat―a margay―three endangered black howler monkeys, two endangered spider monkeys and several birds including an emerald toucanet.

Many of the animals, including a tayra and a screech owl, arrived at the ARCAS sanctuary as juveniles, their mother having likely been killed by traffickers or hunters. The rehabilitation process included teaching them the skills they need to survive in the wild such as how to fly, jump, run, hide from predators, and identify and hunt for food. While the margay, howler and spider monkeys are classified as Category 2: Endangered in Guatemala under national protection legislation, other species―such as the opossum and bat falcon―are impacted by habitat loss due to deforestation for farming and by negative interactions with humans.

Imperilled species are highly valued in the wildlife trade because of their rarity, leading to overexploitation and black-market trade, pushing some of these species further toward risk of extinction. The rehabilitation of these animals is essential to strengthen the populations of endemic and endangered species in the Maya Biosphere Reserve, which have been considerably depleted in their natural habitats. For example, three black howler monkeys were among those released by ARCAS and HSI/LA, the oldest male having been kept as a pet for four months prior to rescue, while the females were rescued from the pet trade without having suffered prolonged captivity.

Andrea Borel, executive director of Humane Society International/Latin America was present for the rainforest release and said: “The capture of wild animals for the national and international pet trade is a real problem in Guatemala. These animals are often kept in cramped, inadequate conditions not suitable for their species, and denied the ability to exhibit their natural behaviors which can further cause them physical and psychological distress. For every wild animal kept as a pet, it’s also likely that several others will have died including their mother who is often killed while trying to protect her babies from traffickers. As many of these species also contend with the ever-increasing pressure of habitat loss, it’s a real concern for our wild ecosystems.

By supporting and working with our local partner, ARCAS, this rescue, rehabilitation and release program is giving these animals back their freedom as well as increasing their wild populations to ensure future breeding in their natural forest habitat where they belong. We also work together on awareness raising to urge citizens not to buy wild animals as pets and to help us by reporting any such suspicious activity to the authorities.”

ARCAS carries out the physical, medical and behavioral rehabilitation of victims of wildlife trafficking and exploitative human activities, under strict scientific management standards. HSI/Latin America and ARCAS have been working together in wildlife protection and conservation in Guatemala since 2004. The release was conducted with the authorization of Guatemalan authorities from the National Council for Protected Areas, or CONAP. The Maya Biosphere Reserve is in the northern Petén region of Guatemala, part of the Mesoamerica’s Maya Forest, the second largest remaining tropical rainforest in the Americas.

ARCAS director Fernando Martinez said: “Our mission is to reinforce existing wildlife populations, to prevent the extinction of species and thus ensure that there are healthy populations capable of adapting and reproducing in their natural habitat. We are proud that our rescue center is a pioneer in endemic species rehabilitation and release in our region, and we appreciate HSI/Latin America’s support.”


Media contact: Wendy Higgins, HSI’s director of international media:

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