Since January 2015, the International Humane Association (HSI) has collected about 2,000 dogs from 17 former dog camps in Korea.
Kelly Donithan, a senior expert with HSI, a member of the rescue team, said about 120 of the dogs during the October flight were still in a shelter in Hagerstown, Md. in Korea.
One of the dogs in the foster home is a pregnant 1 year old Chihuahua, named Cassie.
“It will be a process for her to understand that she won̵7;t be mistreated,” said Debbie Patten, who is taking care of Cassie at her home in Warrington, Va. “With time and a lot of patience, we will take her everywhere.”
Hagerstown dogs are kept in rows of pens, each equipped with a bed, food, water and space for movement. Some of the most seriously injured dogs may need to be spaced apart or have visual barriers around their barn. Other dogs, especially smaller ones, may need extra space to hide inside their barn.
“Some of the most traumatized dogs are slowly adapting to new surroundings,” Donithan said. “We try to make sure we don’t get animals into the house too quickly.”
South Korea has long been one of the hubs for dog meat in Asia, but attitudes there are changing as pet ownership grows and fears of cruelty to animals are growing.
A poll released by the HSI in October found that 84% of South Koreans have not eaten dog meat in the past or have no plans, while nearly 59% said they would support a dog meat trade ban. That is a strong increase from just 35% in a 2017 Nielsen poll commissioned by HSI.
Dogs have long been eaten in places such as Korea, China, Vietnam, the Philippines and parts of Africa, with consumption typically focused on specific regions or times of year.
Many in those countries resent the Western settlement of the matter, arguing that the dog meat industry is no worse than factory farming and eating other animals, and the critics are committing racism.
But there are also animal rights movements in Asia that oppose the dog meat trade, and it is banned in Hong Kong, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. In Switzerland, where dogs and dogs and cats are eaten in some remote rural areas, the dog meat trade is prohibited.
4,000 dog camps remain
“It’s a tradition that’s in decline,” said Jeff Flocken, president of HSI in Washington. “Young people in Korea are not interested in dog meat consumption and are often not interested in inheriting farms. It is truly a cultural change happening right now. “
However, at least 1.5 million dogs are raised on nearly 4,000 registered farms in South Korea, according to the Korea Dog Farmers Association. That’s about half of the 3 million dogs that were raised two decades ago. Industry favors nureongi or golden dogs, toasas and jindos, but many other breeds are found on farms.
Nearly 3,400 restaurants across the country serve dog meat, which is particularly popular in hot weather and three summer days (“dog days”).
Some Koreans believe that dog meat, commonly consumed in stews called bosintang, helps to increase stamina and vitality in hot weather. It is also boiled with herbs to form a tonic called gaesoju, which is also believed to help enhance stamina and aid in post-operative recovery.
But the cruelty of the trade – where the dogs were locked in cramped, rusted cages and raised above the piles of dung before being electrocuted – finally began to ingest into human consciousness. people.
Many dogs got sick and filled with antibiotics. Historically, they were often hanged or beaten to death in the belief that this enhanced their flavor and health benefits, before animal protection laws largely stopped these methods.
At a farm set in a rice field in Seosan, about 75 miles southeast of Seoul, 61-year-old owner Kim Il-Hawn helped HSI workers on October 22 collect 170 dogs from the cage, where they waited. waiting for death. Another 26 dogs from different farms had closed before.
Kim said he felt “quite relieved” to finally see his farm shut down after four decades in business.
“The way television portrayed dog meat as cruel made me feel guilty about the work I was doing,” he said. “At one point, I found myself pitying my farm dogs.”
Some animals growled when humans approached. Others, somehow still trusting people, allow themselves to be caressed and caressed for.
“I know this ranch is a terrible environment for them,” Kim said. “That’s why I release these dogs, because I know they’ll have a better life in America.”
Kim says dog prices have halved in recent years, another reason to exit the business. But he couldn’t resist a whimsical comment about animal rights guards who seem “haunted” with his dogs.
“They treat dogs like we pay respect to their elders,” he said. “I don’t know what happened to them.”
‘Shame Korean culture’
Joo Young-bong, the head of the Korea Dog Farmers Association, accused groups like the HSI of exploiting dogs as a means of calling for donations.
“Dog meat is part of traditional Korean cuisine,” he said. “The fact that they took the dogs from our farm and chased them away, it’s like shaming Korean culture.”
He affirmed, dog meat is good for health and morality like eating fried chicken. “Chickens are also cute animals. Why enforce the double standard for dogs? ” he asks.
But HSI’s Flocken insists his organization is also seeking to shut down factory farms in the West.
In Seoul, the HSI campaign manager, Nara Kim, pointed out that the change in attitude came from South Korea itself.
“What a surprise; Things are changing very fast, ”she said. “It’s one of the things Koreans do – we started to realize something and changed very quickly.”
The National Veterinary Research and Quarantine Agency says the number of pet dogs has increased to 6 million in 2019, up from 4.6 million in 2010. TV shows featuring dogs and Their dedicated owners, while pampering pets and dressing them up in fashion for them, represent a valuable and rapidly growing market.
President Moon Jae-in even raised a rescue dog by himself. The Korean Tori, the First Dog, is a small black crossbred dog that survived in a shelter and was in danger of being sold into the dog meat trade before being rescued by animal rights group CARE and was adopted by Moon in 2017.
Tori appeared during a protest against the dog meat trade in Seoul in 2018, apparently having been there by Moon’s daughter.
As a candidate for president, Moon promised to phase out the dog meat trade but he has been quiet on the issue since coming to power, despite a petition signed by 200,000 people. .
His government now says that they need to consider the livelihoods of those involved in business and hope “the system will gradually change in accordance with social discussions.”
A gift from Kim Jong Un
Even North Korean leader Kim Jong Un is in a dog-friendly mood, giving Moon two North Korean hunting dogs in 2018, who gave birth to six “peace dogs” the following year.
Many dog owners also sell animals to the underground fighting dog business, and some of the animals rescued last week appear to be aggressive and distrustful of humans.
But Flocken says the vast majority will be ready to find their “permanent home” after a few weeks of behavioral training. A few people are too scared and worried that living with everyone will be sent off to a specialist shelter where they will receive “incredible care”.
Last year, Flocken adopted a 5-year-old Golden Retriever from a dog farm. Flocken said it took months for Chewbacca to relax and “he’s still a bit rough – but he’s part of our family now.”
Some of the dogs from the latest rescue mission in Korea have gotten used to the habits of the house.
Patten, 62, who is taking care of Chihuahua, Cassie, says the dog has spent most of its time in a crib in Patten’s room since October 23. Initially, the dog didn’t go out when Patten around. . Now she will inch out to find a pet as Patten sits by the crate, only to quickly retreat back inside.
“I just followed my instincts,” she said. “I don’t push her. Google reads a lot. “
Anna Frostic, senior vice president of programs and policy at the Humane Society, brought a 4-month-old, lab-blended yellow puppy with white spots on her toes and chest, Her Virginia home in the Old Town of Alexandria.
“It’s remarkable how quickly she can be adopted as a pet,” said Frostic.
Until now, the puppies mostly slept and “continued to roll from cute position to cute position,” said Frostic. When going out for a walk, “she couldn’t be more excited to say hello to everyone.”
She’s still working on a name, but Frostic says it will probably be saeloun, which in Korean means “new”.
Kim reports from Seosan, South Korea. Miriam Berger in Washington contributed to this report.