A caring woman from South Korea, where dogs are a traditional delicacy, has rescued more than 200 pups to save them from being served up in restaurants.
Jung Myoung Sook’s love of dogs is considered odd in South Korea where the animals have only just become popular as pets but the 61-year-old is already getting recognition as a champion of animal rights, Mashable reports.
Jung has been rescuing and caring for dogs for 26 years, and has even been forced to move seven times because of neighbours complaining about the noise. She often stops to pick up unfortunate dogs she finds roaming the streets, and has bought others who were in danger of being sold to dog meat farms or restaurants.
Some have questioned how Jung – whose sources of income include cleaning a shop and collecting recyclable boxes – can feed and care for so many dogs. But, when The Associated Press paid her a visit, they said all Jung’s dogs looked healthy and well-fed, although their condition couldn’t be independently confirmed.
Most of the dogs live with her full time and she says she spends about £1,000 a month on food and medicine, but otherwise relies on donations of soybean milk, pork, dog food and canned meat to surivive. Family, friends and sometimes strangers send her money.
My babies aren’t hungry. They can play and live freely here,
Some people talk about me, saying, ‘Why is that beggar-like middle-aged woman smiling all the time,’ but I just focus on feeding my babies. I’m happy and healthy.
One anonymous official from the central city of Asan says they know about Jung’s dog shelter, which she opened in 2014, but they claim they have no legal responsibility to inspect it.
Pets are growing in popularity in Korea and one in five homes now has a cat or dog, but activists say public attitudes toward pets lag far behind those in the West.
Jung’s supporters see her as a heroine who saves stray or lost dogs from being slaughtered for food or euthanized at public shelters if not adopted or found by their owners. About 81,000 stray or abandoned animals, mostly dogs and cats, were sent to public shelters in 2014, down from 100,000 in 2010, the government said.
Dozens of other South Koreans are believed to be raising large numbers of dogs, sometimes in unsanitary conditions where diseases spread easily. Jung says her dogs are mostly healthy, although some die in fights with each other.