21 Dogs Rescued From Illegal Meat Farm in South Korea

They were saved in a torrential rain and will soon be on their way to new homes.

dogs in a kennel at a meat farm in South Korea

Jean Chung / For HSI

Nearly two dozen dogs were saved from a shuttered illegal dog meat farm in South Korea and soon will be looking for new homes.

Humane Society International/Korea (HSI/Korea) and Korean K9 Rescue removed the young dogs in Gyeonggi-do, South Korea after the farm was shut down for operating without a license.

“On the day of the rescue, there was torrential rain which made the removal of the dogs a lot more challenging. But it also made us even more determined to get them out of that depressing place and settled somewhere safe and comfortable,” Lola Webber, HSI's End Dog Meat campaigns director, said.

“For many dogs on these dog meat farms, their only chance of getting a drink of water is when the rains come. I’ve seen dogs craning their necks through the bars of their cage just to stick out their tongue to catch some rain drops. I’m so thankful these 21 beautiful dogs will no longer be victims of the cruel dog meat trade, but for all those who remain locked away on these factory farms, we will keep pushing for change.” 

Earlier, 38 animals had been removed from the same property. The remaining 21 dogs were left behind with a deadline to be taken away. According to HSI, they were at risk of being euthanized or sold to a slaughterhouse.

“This dog farm is typical of so many across South Korea where thousands of dogs are languishing in filthy, deprived conditions, enduring the unimaginable frustration of being confined in tiny cages their whole lives until they are brutally killed by electrocution,” said Sangkyung Lee, HSI/Korea’s dog meat campaign manager. 

“Thankfully, we are able to bring a happy ending for these young dogs who will receive all the medical care and attention they need before flying to North America later in the year to seek adoptive homes.”

The dogs are now receiving veterinary care and vaccinations and will be in quarantine until they’re deemed healthy and ready to travel.

Considering a Dog Meat Ban

Dog in crate after rescue from meat farm
Brown Bear sits in a crate after being rescued.

Jean Chung / For HSI

The animal rights groups point out the rescue occurred just days before boknal (or sambok) in Korea that recognizes the hottest days of summer. Lasting from about mid-July to mid-August the period includes the three hottest “dog days” of summer.

Historically on those days, some people would eat Boshintang, a stew made of dog meat under the belief that they will gain more energy. Although now, most people in Korea do not eat dog meat, about 70% to 80% of the dog meat that is consumed happens during July and August, reports HSI.

About 2 million dogs are slaughtered in South Korea each year. Currently, a government task force, under President Yoon Seok-yeol, is considering a national dog meat ban.

“We urge President Yoon to ensure the national government immediately takes action to end the dog meat industry, so that no more dogs like these will have to endure this suffering for a food that most people in South Korea no longer wish to eat,” says Lee.

Closing Farms

caged dog at a meat farm in South Korea

Jean Chung / For HSI

Since 2015, HSI/Korea has worked to shut down 17 dog meat farms and has rescued more than 2,500 dogs. They were adopted to homes in the United States, Canada, and the United Kingdom, with a few staying with families in South Korea.

In addition to closing the farms, HSI helps dog farmers make a living in new fields including growing chili plants and parsley or delivering water.

The farmer who had operated the facility where the most recent dogs were recovered signed a legal agreement to never raise dogs again.

“I make most of my money from doing handyman jobs, so that’s what I’ll continue to do now,” the farmer, identified by HSI as Mr. Hwang, said in a statement. “When I took over the farm, the seller deceived me and my partner by telling us it would be a profitable business but it simply hasn’t been true.”

Heading for New Lives

dogs in cages at dog meat farm in South Korea

Jean Chung / For HSI

A September 2020 poll commissioned by HSI/Korea and conducted by Nielsen shows nearly 84% of South Koreans said they don’t or won’t eat dogs and almost 60% support a legislative ban on the dog meat trade.

Although not evenly enforced, dog meat is banned in Hong Kong, India, the Philippines, Singapore, Taiwan, and Thailand. It’s also banned in Shenzhen and Zhuhai in China, Siem Reap province in Cambodia, and in 17 cities and regencies in Indonesia.

"As the animals are suffering in the sweltering summer heat, we have moved quickly to remove them from an unbearable situation that no living being should endure. It's important we keep pushing for reform and change to the agriculture laws within South Korea and effectively promote change from within,” said Gina Boehler, executive director, Korean K9 Rescue.

“We know these dogs will go on to live a better life. We have seen and recognized the approval of most South Korean citizens who actively oppose the dog meat trade and lobby for change, which keeps our mission strong and alive."

Why This Matters to Treehugger

At Treehugger, we are advocates of animal welfare, including our pets and other domestic animals. We hope our readers will pay attention to animal rights issues, opt to adopt rescue pets instead of shopping from breeders or pet stores, and will also consider supporting local animal shelters.

View Article Sources
  1. "Days Before Bok Nal Season, Korean Animal Groups HSI/Korea and Korean K9 Rescue Unite to Save 21 Dogs Left Behind On An Illegal Dog Meat Farm." Humane Society International, 2022.

  2. "Three Dog Days." Encyclopedia of Korean Folk Culture.

  3. https://folkency.nfm.go.kr/en/topic/detail/4130 and http://www.lifeinkorea.com/culture/festivals/festivals.cfm?Subject=Sambok

  4. https://www.hsi.org/news-media/boknal-days/

  5. "The South Korean Dog Meat Trade." Animal Welfare Institute.

  6. "Respect our culture': Koreans talk about eating dog meat on Boknal in Korea." The Korea Times.

  7. "Public Opinion Polls and Data Research – Ascertaining Trends in South Korea’s Dog Meat Industry and Pet Culture." Humane Society International.