34 Dogs Rescued From Illegal Meat Farm in South Korea

They’ll now look for homes in the U.S.

Published November 7, 2022 09:53AM EST

Nearly three dozen dogs have arrived in the U.S. after being rescued from the dog meat industry in South Korea.

Pups were removed from dog meat farms in Ansan, South Korea, by Humane Society International/Korea and its partners. So far, HSI/Korea has rescued dogs from 17 dog farms that are now permanently closed. The group has also worked with other animal groups to rescue dogs from illegal farms that were being shuttered by authorities.

“In each and every case, the conditions we first find these dogs in are deplorable. Dog meat farms see dogs locked away in small, barren cages without proper access to water, veterinary care or nutritious food, denied any comfort whatsoever, and existing in perpetual fear and deprivation,”  Adam Parascandola, vice president of the animal rescue team at Humane Society International and the Humane Society of the United States, tells Treehugger. 

“Most often, our rescues involve us working cooperatively with dog farmers who wish to leave the industry, and they will usually be present during the rescue days and even assist us in some cases in removing dogs so that they can start their journey to new adoptive homes.”

Many of the dogs on this most recent trip came from a farm that had been shut down by local officials. Some had already been removed, but others had been left behind with the risk that they’d be euthanized or killed and used for food. This time, 34 dogs were rescued.

“They were understandably nervous when we first rescued them and placed them at our partner shelter in South Korea,” Parascandola says. “They had been born on the farm and never experienced human kindness, so they were cautious but soon responded well to having proper shelter, good food, the freedom to stretch their legs and play with each other.” 

Becoming Ambassadors

Dog in a cage in a dog meat farm in South Korea
Before rescue in a dog meat farm in South Korea.

Jean Chung / For HSI


About 30 million dogs are killed annually across Asia to be used for human consumption, according to HSI. The practice is most common in China, South Korea, Indonesia, and Vietnam although numbers are hard to confirm because the trade is unregulated and often illegal.

Dog meat consumption is not widespread and is more common in older people. A 2016 poll in China found that nearly 70% of people have never tried dog meat and there is a growing movement that opposes the trade. A 2014 poll in South Korea found that about half of the respondents eat dog meat, but they only do so rarely.

Animals on dog meat farms are kept locked in small metal cages and are typically only given enough food and water to survive, according to HSI. Sometimes dogs are killed in very brutal, violent ways because of their belief that torturing a dog before death results in adrenalin-filled, better-tasting meat.

“Every dog who we are able to save is given back their future that would otherwise be denied them by the dog meat industry. Dogs reared on dog meat farms live a very harsh existence and will ultimately be killed for meat usually by electrocution, so our work is quite literally lifesaving for these animals,” Parascandola says.

He says the dogs become ambassadors for the organization, helping to change negative perceptions of these dog-meat dogs and of dog adoption.

“The dog meat industry portrays these dogs as vicious and soulless as an attempt to discourage Korean consumers from caring about their fate. So, our adoptions demonstrate that these dogs are just as deserving of compassion as any dog, and they have the potential to be loving companions too.”

Why This Matters to Treehugger

At Treehugger, we are advocates of animal welfare, including our pets and other domestic animals. We hope stories like this one will highlight to our readers the importance of animal rights.  Learn more about how to support local animal shelters.

Rehabilitation and Socialization

Rescued dogs prepare to leave South Korea
Rescued dogs prepare to leave South Korea.

HSI


Some dogs are able to turn around quite quickly and rehabilitation is easy. The process is harder for others.

“It is remarkable how quickly some will respond to positive interactions, love and comfort.  For others, it is a longer journey of rehabilitation and undoing the trauma they have experienced,” Parascandola says.

They have specialists who are experienced working with physical and emotional behavioral issues.

“In most cases, these dogs have been born on the farm and have no experience of life outside of a cage. They need help learning what it is to be a dog and our teams start that process by employing a range of techniques to socialise and acclimate them to ‘pet’ life in a home,” Parascandola says.

“That vital work often continues once we place the dogs with our shelter partners, who will ultimately get them ready for adoption and be able to best assess what types of home would suit their needs and personalities best. It can be a long process for some dogs, but so worth it to see them settled, loved, and happy in their new homes.”

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