149 dogs and new-born puppies that were destined to be electrocuted, butchered and sold at a meat market in South Korea were saved yesterday.
The Humane Society International (HSI) carried out the rescue operation in rural Yesan that took place just as the country’s Bok Nal season got underway.
During this summer season more than one million dogs are killed and eaten in a spicy soup that is believed to invigorate the blood and improve stamina during the hot weather.
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More than 2.5 million dogs are reared on thousands of meat farms across the county but one dog meat farmer asked the HSI to help him close his farm after considering a career move into crop growing.
These dogs are now being flown to the United States where they will be placed in animal shelters to help them start new lives.
15 puppies that were too young to fly will stay with their mothers at a foster home until they can make the trip.
Like typical dog meat farms, this one in Yesan had row upon row of frightened dogs in barren metal cages, many with injuries and deep pressure sores.
When the HSI arrived they found that many of the animals were poorly and desperate for release, practically jumping into the arms of the rescue team.
Opposition to the dog meat trade is growing among Korean citizens and even the newly elected President Moon Jae-has recently adopted a dog named Tory who was rescued from a meat farm.
The farm in Yesan that was shut down is the ninth one to be closed by the HSI since 2014 meaning that nearly 1,000 dogs have been rescued.
Many farmers are keen to get out of meat farming and HSI not only rescues the dogs but also help the farm owners come up with an alternative business plan.
Farmers aided by HSI have moved into humane livelihoods such as chilli plant growing and water deliver.
The rescues are part of a broader strategy that aims to encourage the South Korean government to end the cruel industry.
Nara Kim, HSI’s South Korea dog meat campaigner, said in a statement:
With every dog meat farm we close, we are not only saving the lives of these poor, terrified dogs caught up in this cruel trade, but we are also presenting a successful blueprint for change that we hope the government will follow.
Eating dog is a dying practice in Korea, especially among young people.
However, the Bok Nal days of summer still lead many to eat dog meat soup in the mistaken belief that it will invigorate the blood in the sluggish heat.
Our campaign shows them the disgusting conditions in which the dogs are forced in live in their own fences, and their pitiful suffering, and it is changing hearts and minds.
Hopefully one day this cruel trade will end for good.
Emily Murray is a journalist at UNILAD. She graduated from the University of Leeds with a BA in English Literature and History before studying for a Masters in Journalism at the University of Salford. Emily has previously worked for the BBC, ITV and Trinity Mirror. When Emily isn’t writing about topics including mental health and entertainment, you can find her at the cinema which is her second home.