According to Korea Animal Rights Advocates (also known as KARA), around 2.5 million dogs are slaughtered every year in South Korea as part of the dog meat farming industry. Organizations such as KARA, as well as those in western countries, like the SPCA, are fighting a battle to not only eradicate dog meat farms, but also provide the farmers with the knowledge and abilities to replace the dogs with the much more humane crop farming.
On Thursday, the San Francisco SPCA in conjunction with the Humane Society International and Change for Animals Foundation, managed a rescue of 57 dogs from a South Korean dog meat farm that were bred solely for consumption, and were kept in deplorable conditions for their entire lives, many having never even left the tiny cages in which they were kept.
Lola Webber, a representative for the Humane Society International, and one of the people instrumental in the dogs' rescue, fights back tears in a video released by the Humane Society, "It's been a long journey getting the dogs here, and for a while, I didn't think we were going to make it, so seeing them go off means everything to me."
"If we weren't here today to take these dogs off the farm, they'd be picked up either to be taken to a slaughterhouse, market or restaurant, and we know what that is. The animals are just treated with such disregard, it's a very sad existence. Like I always think the dogs sit there, waiting to die, and then fight to live at the last moment, and it's heart wrenching to witness"In a press release put out by the Humane Society International on March 19, Webber explains the reactions of the dogs upon finally being released from their dirty, cramped cages.
"They've been starved of love their whole lives, living in fear and deprivation. As soon as we opened their cage doors and they realised we weren't going to harm them, they wagged their tails and licked our faces. I felt very privileged to give these dogs the first ever cuddle and kiss of their lives."
The dogs, who are now in the care of the San Francisco SPCA, will be evaluated, treated, and readied for adoption. Those who require further medical assistance will be transferred to HSI Emergency Placement partners to be treated, and then they, too, will be put up for adoption to find their forever homes.
The fact that these 57 dogs will now have a chance at a happy life is definitely a check in the win column for HSI, and everyone else involved in the rescue, but, as pointed out by Adam Parascandola, HSI's director of animal protection and crisis response, there are still millions more that need saving.
"These lucky dogs will live the rest of their lives as valued and treasured members of a forever family in the United States. These amazing animals are full of character, and will make loving and loyal companions. But millions more dogs back in South Korea will die for dog meat, so our work will continue, to shut down more farms and call for an end to this cruel trade. With the Winter Olympics coming to Seoul in 2018, we have a clear opportunity to end the dog meat trade as the world focuses on South Korea."While the SF SPCA and the HSI tweeted out their elation at the successful rescue. Others wondered at the hypocrisy inherent in organizations coming together to rescue the cute animals in a foreign country, while across the world, animals not dubbed as cute, or considered pets by the Western world, find themselves in the same cramped cages and deplorable conditions, with no rescue in sight. On which side of the debate do you fall? Should there also be a focus on rescuing other factory farmed animals instead of just the those considered family pets, like cats and dogs?
Follow #KoreaDogs on Twitter for more updates about these dogs, their rehabilitation, and their amazing rescuers.