Over 100 puppies are being given a second chance at life as they go up for adoption at shelters across the west coast of the United States.
For them, it’s the last stop after being rescued from a dog meat farm in Chungcheongnam-do, South Korea by the Humane Society International (HSI).
A spokesperson for HSI told Global News the animals’ living conditions were deplorable, their lives often short and brutal.
“The dogs were being kept in horrific conditions, usually just wire cages above ground so they never touch the ground, fed just enough to stay alive,” Kelly O’Meara, director of HIS Companion Animals.
“And usually, the slaughter process involved some sort of electrocution.”
And while many countries in East Asia consume canine meat, a practice considered controversial to many in North America, O’Meara said South Korea is the only country they are aware of which actively farms dogs for meat – some 2 million a year, according to HSI estimates.
Yet despite those numbers, O’Meara said the country itself – as well as many actually involved in dog meat farming – is looking to stop the practice all together.
“Many farmers are looking to transition out of the [dog meat] trade for good,” O’Meara said. “As the younger generation comes of age, less than 10% of South Koreans participate in the consumption of dogs today.
“There’s an undertone of shamefulness in the [dog meat] trade, a perception that the practice of eating dogs is something situated in the developing world.”
This is the third large-scale dog meat farm that HSI has shut down in South Korea this year. This past March, 57 puppies and fully grown dogs were retrieved from a dog meat farm before being sent out for adoption at various shelters in California’s Bay Area.
In all three cases, HSI has managed to free the dogs and shut down the farms by helping the often-reluctant owner get out of the business entirely.
“So what we’ve done is worked with various farmers, learned where they are, what they look like, what’s involved in the trade,” O’Meara said. “In working with these farmers we learned they just need an opportunity to make the transition out of dog farming, which we provide.”
As part of their agreement with HSI, the farmers sign a contract agreeing never to be involved in the canine meat business again. In exchange, HSI agrees to help them transition into traditional crop farming.
Their facilities are then demolished to prevent their re-use in the future, and their livestock seized – which is when the “rescued” pups, typically no older than a couple months, begin their journey to the United States.
As part of their partnership with HSI, the dogs are sent stateside by United Airlines’ PetSafe route from Seoul, S.K., to San Francisco, Cali., leaving the responsibility of finding the animals a new home to west coast shelters from Southern California to Washington State.
For the shipment in March, the Sacramento Society for the Prevention of Cruelty to Animals handed the adoption of 10 of the pups, just the second time animals rescued from a South Korean dog farm were held up for adoption in the U.S.
“It’s more the condition of the [farm] animals while they’re being raised,” Rick Johnson, CEO of the Sacramento SPCA, told WTHR News. “That’s a real problem.”
Animals from this recent delivery are already being held up for adoption by organizations such as the Placer SPCA, which began advertising their new additions last week.
O’Meara said the farm dogs are usually a mastiff/bloodhound mix, bred for this superior size as livestock animals. The oldest of the rescued animals is typically no more than nine months old, the age at which most farm dogs are slaughtered and sent to market.
Anyone interested in learning more about HSI’s efforts to discourage the dog meat trade in South Korea – or even in adopting one of the pups for themselves – can learn more at their website here.