News Animals Portraits Highlight Survivors of Dog Meat Trade Photos show 'amazing, resilient, strong, beautiful beings.' By Mary Jo DiLonardo Mary Jo DiLonardo LinkedIn Twitter Senior Writer University of Cincinnati Mary Jo DiLonardo has worked in print, online, and broadcast journalism for 25 years and covers nature, health, science, and animals. Learn about our editorial process Published July 1, 2022 11:00AM EDT Fact checked by Haley Mast Fact checked by Haley Mast LinkedIn Harvard University Extension School Haley Mast is a freelance writer, fact-checker, and small organic farmer in the Columbia River Gorge. She enjoys gardening, reporting on environmental topics, and spending her time outside snowboarding or foraging. Topics of expertise and interest include agriculture, conservation, ecology, and climate science. Learn about our fact checking process Share Twitter Pinterest Email Moon lives with her family in the Washington, DC area and loves watching TV, especially shows with animals. Sophie Gamand / For HSI News Environment Business & Policy Science Animals Home & Design Current Events Treehugger Voices News Archive Some like shopping. Others love swimming or watching TV. And all of them are living safe, happy lives, filled with love and treats and toys. These are pups that have been rescued from the dog meat trade in South Korea. They were saved by Humane Society International (HSI) and found new homes in the United States. Photographer Sophie Gamand took portraits of some of these dogs, focused on showing they are survivors living their best lives. “I knew I wanted really elevated portraits,” Gamand said in a video for HSI. “I wanted people to see them for the amazing, resilient, strong, beautiful beings they are.” Chewbacca was adopted by HSI President Jeff Flocken, lives in Virginia. and loves to bring stuffed animals on his walks. Credit. Sophie Gamand / For HSI Gamand is well-known for her Pit Bull Flower Power project, where she works to change the negative images of pit bulls by photographing them with elaborate flower headdresses. For this Survivors of the Dog Meat Trade project, Gamand focused on beautiful symbolic collars made of sparkles and lace, ribbons, and beads. “I like to think about the collar like a wedding band; it’s a commitment,” Gamand says. “A collar is a promise that you’re taking this dog in. I’m going to give you shelter, food, love, comfort. I’m going to be committed to making your life better.” Shutting Down Farms Rescued in 2019, Mila Bear lives with her family in New York City and loves shopping with her mom. Sophie Gamand / For HSI HSI estimates that there are more than 1 million dogs in meat farms in South Korea. The group says it’s the only country in the world where dogs are bred intensively for consumption. The organization points out that most South Koreans don’t eat dog meat. Many of the farmers HSI works with speak of pressure from family members and others to get out of the dog farming business, which has become an unacceptable way to make a living. HSI has been working since 2015 with farmers who want to end their participation in the controversial business. To date, HSI has rescued more than 2,500 dogs from these farms. The organization has created a program that helps farmers make the transition to more humane livelihoods such as growing chili or water parsley instead. Dog meat farm in South Korea. Sophie Gamand / For HSI But at existing farms, dogs are kept in rows of cages, standing and sleeping on wire floors without access to proper food, water, or veterinary care. They live outside in harsh winters and stifling summers. Understanding Where the Dogs Came From Before creating the portraits, Gamand wanted to see what the dogs had endured. “It was very important to me to actually visit a dog meat farm. I didn’t want to just be on the other side once the dogs were rescued. I really wanted to see where they came from,” she said. “It’s very hard to talk about something like this unless you’ve been there.” Birdie was adopted by Olympic medalist Gus Kenworthy and lives in Los Angeles. Sophie Gamand / For HSI Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy also visited a farm. He adopted a Jindo/Labrador mix named Birdie. “The farm was devastating,” Kenworthy said. “These dogs were suffering, trapped in these cages with no access to anything … exercise, water. It’s terrible.” Juliette lives in Los Angeles and learned to swim in Lake Michigan. Sophie Gamand / For HSI Actor Daniel Henney adopted his meat farm survivor, Juliette, after working on a film in South Korea. “I looked down this road and saw this sort of endless chain of restaurants with cages out front. That was profoundly affecting,” he says. Both Birdie and Juliette were photographed by Gamand for the project. South Korea’s government launched a task force last fall to consider outlawing dog meat consumption. Gamand hopes her portraits will help with HSI’s mission to end the trade. “You see all these dogs barking, trying to get your attention: Get me out of here! Look at me; I exist!” she says. “This was a transformative experience for me.” View Article Sources "Award-Winning Photographer Launches Stunning Portraits of ‘Survivors’ of South Korea’s Dog Meat Trade, Now Living Their Best Lives." Humane Society International. "South Korea to Launch Task Force on Banning Dog Meat." AP News.