This is the first farm that HSI has found where the connection between South Korea's dog meat industry and pet puppy trade is clear

By Kelli Bender
February 13, 2019 02:29 PM
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Jean Chung for HSI

Humane Society International, with help from celebrity supporters like Gus Kenworthy and Simon Cowell, is working to shut down South Korea’s cruel dog meat trade by setting up the hundreds of dog meat farmers in the country with humane and more profitable enterprises and by rescuing the thousands of dogs stuck in these farms so they can be treated and adopted out in North America.

One by one HSI is carefully shutting down the farms of the dwindling dog meat industry. After closing 13 of these facilities, rescuers from HSI know what to expect when they remove dogs from one of these farms: filthy conditions, uncomfortable cages, lack of protection from the elements. But during their most recent rescue mission, the animal charity found something new — a facility that was operating as a dog meat farm and as a puppy mill, a place “where pups are bred as both friend and food.”

Jean Chung for HSI

HSI has long suspected there was a connection between the dog meat industry and the country’s pet puppy trade. This is the first farm they have found where that connection is clear.

“Although HSI has found all sizes and breeds of dogs at its previous thirteen dog meat farm closures, this is the first time the charity has discovered a facility where puppies being born for the pet trade were being bred alongside others destined to be electrocuted and butchered for meat to supply local restaurants. Any pups unable to be sold as pets could also end up at the slaughterhouse,” HSI wrote in a statement about the discovery.

Jean Chung for HSI

The charity’s rescue workers pulled nearly 200 dogs, including Chihuahuas, corgis, huskies, jindos, Yorkshire terriers, poodles, Pomeranians, shih tzus, and French bulldogs, from the squalid conditions of this breeding facility/dog meat farm in Hongseong, South Korea. At the farm, dogs were kept in inhumane cages surrounded by garbage, while puppies were stuck in tires left under heat lamps.

“The lines between puppy mills and dog meat farms are routinely blurred throughout South Korea, and with our latest dog farm closure we are exposing the shocking reality of that. These dogs are suffering at the hands of two abusive industries, their ultimate fate depending on whether they will sell for more money as a pet or for meat. They all start life in this depressing, squalid place, with the lucky few ending up being a loved companion whilst their cage mates are served at a restaurant or enter a chain of auctions where they are sold on to the next farmer to produce litter after litter of puppies,” Nara Kim of HSI said in a statement.

Jean Chung for HSI

The owner of this farm, 60-year-old Farmer Lee, told HSI he is ashamed of his eight years in the dog meat farming business because dog meat farming is no longer that profitable and because his family disapproves of the work.

“From the very beginning, my entire family has been against my dog farming. All my daughters and my wife want me to close it, and they have never wanted to visit the farm. I feel very ashamed to be a dog meat farmer and a puppy mill farmer so I barely tell anyone what I’m doing. My business is also making no money now and it’s too hard to farm the dogs as I have back pain,” Farmer Lee told HSI, adding that he can feel the dog meat industry coming to an end.

Jean Chung for HSI

Farmer Lee said he stayed in the business for eight years because he couldn’t afford a way out. He eventually heard about HSI’s efforts to close dog meat farms and provide the farmers with new employment from a former farmer who went through the process with HSI. Farmer Lee and HSI have since connected and the animal charity is now working to remove all of the dogs under the farmer’s care. Once the canines have been relocated, HSI will help finance computer literacy training for Farmer Lee so he can become a security guard.

Jean Chung for HSI

Along with allowing the dogs to be removed and their cages destroyed, Farmer Lee also signed a 20-year contract promising he will stay out of the dog meat industry and any other animal-related job. HSI hopes their continued success converting dog meat farms to new, humane enterprises will eventually be adopted nationwide with state support.

Jean Chung for HSI

The nearly 200 dogs HSI rescued from this farm are making their way to North America. Once they arrive, the dogs will be taken into shelters and rescues across the U.S. and Canada, where they will receive expert care until they are ready to find their forever families.

“We found them cowering in rusty cages as they endure the bitter cold of the Korean winter. It is an immense relief to be able to rescue them and fly them to North America where we can work with partner organizations and begin their search for adoptive families. For them the nightmare is over, and we hope that by exposing their suffering we can hasten the end of the entire industry for good,” Kim added.