Animal rescuers have expressed their shock at discovering the conditions on a dog meat farm recently opened up in South Korea, where 55 dogs and puppies were being kept caged in darkness. Just 12 miles outside of Seoul, this is the seventh dog meat farm Humane Society International (HSI) has been involved in closing in the country. However, the deprivation and layout of this completely indoor facility was unusual, with makeshift barren cages winding around in a maze.
Adam Parascandola, HSI’s director of animal protection and crisis response, said, “In the more than two years that I’ve been part of our campaign to shut down the dog meat trade in Asia, I thought I’d seen it all until I first saw this facility. It literally took my breath away, not least because when we first entered the darkness, the stench was overpowering. The ammonia burned the back of our throats. We could hear the dogs’ desperate barks but we couldn’t see their faces properly, just their eyes peering out. As we became accustomed to the darkness, we saw the pitiful state these poor animals had been living in. The farm is right on the public path next to the train tracks, but the people walking by would never have known what suffering it concealed.”
All 55 dogs were rescued, some of which were suspected to have been pets at some point. One dog, a Maltese cross, was wearing an electric shock collar under deeply matted fur. There were a whole variety of breeds on the farm of all sizes, but the most gratifying rescue for the team was a litter of five young Jindo puppies, who will now not have to grow up alone in these horrible conditions. All the dogs will be rehomed to new families in America.
Parascandola added, “These dogs have lived their lives so far in deplorable conditions, so we’re all really excited to be getting them out. Most appear to have had little human contact and many of them are understandably very frightened of people, cowering as we approach and trying to hide in corners. But we know from experience that once we take them to a safe place and they feel secure and loved, they’ll learn to trust. Their capacity to bounce back from the worst situations is astonishing to me. A number of the dogs are already super friendly, and one of the Jindo mothers who appeared nervous at first, just sat in my lap and wouldn’t move. It was like she’d found comfort at last and she wasn’t giving it up. She doesn’t know it yet but she’ll have a soft warm bed for the rest of her life now.”
HSI estimates that around 17,000 dog meat farms operate in South Korea, rearing a total of 2.5 million dogs for human consumption every year. However, most South Koreans do not eat dog, particularly the younger generation. HSI hope that the practice can therefore be phased out through a number of different methods, such as transitioning farmers onto crops like chilis or blueberries, and working to dispel the myth that dog meat farm dogs are different from pets.
With the 2018 Winter Olympics coming to Pyeongchang very soon, its hoped that international pressure can help bring about change. Hong Kong, the Philippines, Taiwan, Thailand and Singapore all have dog meat bans – could South Korea be next?
You can see the footage of inside the dog meat farm on our Facebook page.
Featured image: Jean Chung for HSI