A new opinion poll among South Koreans, conducted by Nielsen and commissioned by Humane Society International/Korea, shows “growing support for a ban on dog meat consumption”, with 84 per cent of those polled saying they “don’t or won’t eat dog”.
Almost 60 per cent supporting a legislative ban on the trade – a 24 per cent increase from 2017.
Nara Kim, HSI/Korea’s dog meat campaign manager, says, “More people in South Korea are interested in animal welfare and the environment, and so when they see footage of our dog farm closures on the news showing the animal suffering and filthy conditions, or read about dog meat exposés by other Korean groups, they are really shocked and upset.”
She adds, “The inevitable drop in sales is leading more dog farmers to look for a way out, and right now HSI runs the only scheme in the country working in partnership with dog farmers to help them start a new life. But we hope in time the Korean government will adopt this type of approach to phase out the dog meat industry for good.”
Dog meat farmer Il-Hwan Kim is among those who reached out to HSI/Korea for help closing down his dog meat farm and transition into humane and more profitable livelihood. His farm is the seventeenth so far to close thanks to animal protection groups.
He says, “There is no future in dog meat at all, it’s already dying and will fall apart completely. And dog farming is physically hard and I’m getting old, so I want to get out. Forty years ago it was different, but now it’s over for dog farming.
“I might start work in construction, because I used to work in scaffolding and there are opportunities there.”
A total of 170 dogs rescued from Il-Hwan Kim’s farm. Due to COVID-19 safety precautions, the rescue effort saw HSI’s U.S. team quarantine for two weeks at a government-sanctioned hotel in Seoul before being allowed to head to the dog meat farm to rescue the dogs.
Nara Kim says, “Every dog meat farm I’ve visited has a horrible stench of faeces and rotting food, but there is something different about this dog farm, it smells of death. The conditions are truly pitiful, and when we found these dogs they had looks of utter despair on their faces that will haunt us forever.
“Many of them are covered in painful sores and wounds from neglect, some have inflamed eyes and peer out blindly from their cage. I feel grateful they can no longer see this horrible place they live in, and when they finally receive veterinary care and can open their eyes, they will never have to endure this hopelessness again.”
HSI’s Shelter and Rescue partners in the United States and Canada will take the dogs and start the process of matching them with new families. In total, HSI is taking 196 dog meat trade survivors out of South Korea on a single flight, including a poodle, Korean jindos and mastiffs, Pomeranians, terriers, and a Labrador retriever.
Images by HSI/Korea