Humane Society International currently has a rescue team on the ground in South Korea to save 90 dogs and puppies from the horrors of the dog meat trade and to bring them to the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.
The dogs were living on a dog meat farm in Gyeonggi-do province that is closing because of HSI’s pioneering program that helps dog farmers who want to leave the increasingly controversial industry. This is the 15th dog farm HSI has permanently closed, and one of thousands of such farms across the country supplying live dogs to slaughterhouses and markets for human consumption.
The tosa and jindo breeds typical of the trade were kept at the farm alongside a chow-chow, golden retriever, several terrier mixes and two Boston terriers, all destined for slaughter. Most were enduring miserable lives in cramped and barren wire frame cages, while others were chained alone.
The farmer, 40-year-old Kwon Tae-young also admits to having sold puppies to dogfighters. Despite being illegal, dogfighting persists in South Korea, and HSI has discovered dogfighting rings at a number of the farms closed by the organization since the program began in 2015.
“I’ve thought about closing my dog farm for a while now for various reasons, but never actually did anything about it,” Tae-young said in a statement, further noting that he has lost more money on the dog farm than he has earned. “One day I talked to a former dog farmer who had worked with HSI and he recommended I work with them to help me leave the dog meat industry. Rather than selling them off to traders, I thought it would be so much better if they can live their life and not die for meat or live the life of a fighting dog.”
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 the future.
“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,” shared Nara Kim, HSI/Korea’s dog meat campaigner. “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, and what wonderful pets dog meat farm survivors can be when given a chance.”
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.
As political and public momentum grows in South Korea to end the dog meat trade, HSI’s strategy points to the need for a solution that works for both people and dogs caught up in the industry.
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