50 Canine Rescued From a Former Canine Meat Farm

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Korean animal rights groups rescued 50 dogs from a closed dog meat farm in South Korea. The facility had been closed by the authorities and the animals would likely have been euthanized without rescue.

Rescuers found the dogs in bare metal cages with no water or sufficient food. The farmers who operated the facility left their canines after officials issued a demolition order for the property.

“Many of these dogs were very frightened when our rescuers walked into the farm, hugging their bodies to the back wall of their cage and hiding their faces. They were clearly traumatized and afraid of people,” said Wendy Higgins, director of international media for Humane Society International (HSI), explains Treehugger. “I shudder when I think of the horrors they will have witnessed on the farm, especially since there was a dog slaughterhouse on site at this facility, so they saw and heard dogs being killed.”

Humane Society International / Korea, LIFE, KoreanK9Rescue and Yongin Animal Care Association worked with local authorities to remove the dogs so the structures could be demolished.

Receive care and prepare for home

A dog curls up in a cage in a former dog meat farm.

Jean Chung / For HSI

The dogs were mostly Jindos and Mastiffs, including “Tiny Tim” – a small pet terrier that belonged to one of the farmers and was given to the rescuers.

Most of the dogs were malnourished and had skin diseases and foot pain from standing on the floor of the wire cage. Some had untreated head and ear wounds. Many were afraid of people and trembled and curled up in the corners of their cages when the rescuers arrived.

“But despite their fear, once the dogs were shown human kindness, the dogs soon reacted positively, wagging their tails and barking for attention,” says Higgins.

The dogs are now at HSI’s temporary facility in South Korea, where they will receive veterinary care, food, beds, “and their first real experience of positive human interaction where they can begin to learn to trust,” says Higgins.

They get vaccinations and make sure they are in good health before flying to shelters in the US and Canada where they will eventually find adoptive families.

The legal gray area for dog meat

Jean Chung / For HSI

This farm in Yongin City violated the country’s 2017 Animal Welfare Act. Legislation recognizes that animals can feel and suffer pain and protect animal welfare.

However, the dog meat trade operates in a “legal gray area”, suggests Claire Czajkowski in her report on the industry: “Within South Korea, the dog meat trade occupies a limited legal space – neither expressly tolerated nor technically prohibited.”

In Defense of Animals says the trade lives in a legal blind spot. The Ministry of Food, Agriculture, Forestry and Fisheries does not recognize dog meat as legal, but the Ministry of Health and Social Affairs, which controls the slaughter of dog meat, does.

In 2018, a Korean court declared that killing dogs for meat was illegal. But that was an individual decision, not a national ban.

According to HSI, an estimated 2 million dogs are still kept on thousands of farms across South Korea.

HSI / Korea has closed 17 dog meat farms in the country and is campaigning for legislation in South Korea to completely end the dog meat trade.

“The largest dog slaughterhouse has closed, and so has the largest of the dog meat markets, but there are other dog slaughterhouses and the Chilsung dog market is still open,” says Higgins. “Considerable progress has been made, but we still need a legal ban.”

A survey commissioned by HSI / Korea and conducted by Nielsen in September 2020 found that nearly 84% of South Koreans said they neither eat nor eat dogs, and nearly 60% are in favor of a legal trade ban.

“Surveys show that the majority of South Koreans do not eat dog meat, and certainly dogs are predominantly viewed as pets among younger Koreans,” says Higgins. “There’s a growing public and even political momentum for change, and showing the grim and disturbing reality of the dog meat industry really helps educate people.”

Higgins adds, “Seeing these dogs’ adoption journeys also helps show people that they are just like their dogs back home. They just got off to a very difficult start in their lives.”