Behind the Scenes of Olympic Skier Gus Kenworthy's South Korea Dog Meat Farm Rescue Effort
The Team USA freestyle skier helped save two stray puppies found near Olympic Village during the Sochi games. This year, Kenworthy and his boyfriend rescued a new furry family member, a puppy named Beemo, from a South Korea dog meat farm during the PyeongChang 2018 Winter Olympics.
Kenworthy didn't do it alone. He was backed by Humane Society International, one of the animal advocacy groups relentlessly working to shut down the over-17,000 dog meat farms in South Korea, and adopt out the millions of dogs currently trapped in these cruel places.
During the Olympics, the athlete joined one of HSI's rescue teams on a trip to a dog meat farm, which was recently shut down, to see firsthand the conditions these animals are kept in.
The farm was filled with dirty, poorly-made cages stuffed with dogs and left exposed to the severe winter elements. It didn't take long for Kenworthy to find a dog he connected with: a fluffy pup named Beemo.
“Coming to this dog meat farm with HSI has been a real eye-opener. It’s so upsetting to see these dogs in such appalling conditions, many of them crammed four or five to a tiny cage with absolutely no room to move. And yet despite their inhumane conditions, they remain gentle and eager for attention," Kenworthy said in a statement regarding his trip to the farm.
Beemo will soon leave the farm and fly to the United States to be with Kenworthy, but the pup isn't the only lucky one. All of the dogs — about 80 — are being flown back to North America to be adopted out to loving families.
This is one of 10 dog meat farms HSI has shut down over the past three years, which amounts to more than 1,200 rescued canines. The charity works with dog meat farmers to close down their businesses and then helps them start new, humane, sustainable livelihoods, like water delivery or chili pepper farming. Mr. Kim, the man who ran the farm Kenworthy visited, will now focus on growing and selling mushrooms.
"For our little guy, Beemo, the dog meat trade ordeal is over, but it’s horrifying to think that so many dogs just like them are still suffering this fate across South Korea. I’m proud to highlight Humane Society International’s amazing dog farm closure campaign because it’s a very practical solution to a highly emotive problem. They’re showing how you can help dog farmers like Mr. Kim and these beautiful dogs at the same time, and I think that’s the key to ending this trade for good," Kenworthy added.
He hopes his work with HSI inspires others to step up and help end this cruel trade. Many younger Koreans are starting to reject the dated practice of eating dog meat, even South Korea's President Moon Jae-in rescued a pup from the dog meat trade. Every year, however, over 2 million dogs are heartlessly slaughtered for consumption in the country.