Nearly 60 South Korean dogs raised for slaughter have arrived in Northern California to begin new lives as human companions instead of dinner.
The Humane Society International and the Change for Animals Foundation rescued the 57 adults and puppies from a dog-meat farm, outside Seoul, whose owner agreed to get out of the business and grow chili peppers instead. The canines, ranging from beagles, poodles and Korean Jindos to mastiff-like Tosas, began arriving this week in San Francisco, where the local SPCA is caring for them until they are ready for adoption around the region.
The dogs had lived under cruel conditions — crammed into small, dark, filthy, unheated cages. They were destined for markets where their kind are electrocuted, hanged or beaten to death before butchering.
The rescue and farm conversion was the second since January, when 23 dogs were removed from a similar operation in the South Korean countryside.
"These incredible animals have survived unthinkable conditions and suffering as part of the dog-meat industry. They deserve to spend the rest of their lives in loving homes,"
vice chair of the SF SPCA Board of Directors. "Ultimately, we're hoping to completely end the practice of consuming dogs as food."
South Korea has thousands of dog-meat farms, and an estimated 2 million farm-raised canines there are killed for food annually, the Humane Society said. Animal activists are also targeting China, where tens of thousands of dogs — all allegedly snatched from owners or the streets — end up in hot pots during summer solstice dog-meat festivals.
Since August, more than 8,000 dogs had been rescued en route to slaughterhouses.
HSI has partnered with the growing animal-rights movement in Asia to end the dog-meat trade in Vietnam, Thailand, Cambodia and Laos.
"There is a belief that dog meat is beneficial for your health, particularly during hot months," said Adam Parascandola, who headed the rescue. "It's really primarily the older population that consumes dog meat. Most of the younger population does not consume the meat and they're not interested in consuming it."
Animal-rights groups see the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, as an opportunity to work with the government and farmers to change attitudes about raising, eating and caring for dogs.
"In South Korea, there is a tendency to keep only purebred dogs as pets and there is little interest in adopting 'meat' dogs," writes Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the U.S. Humane Society. "We are focusing on a public awareness campaign to close the gap in perception between a 'pet dog' and a 'meat dog' — something that is already happening with the increase in the pet industry throughout Asia."