Dogs that were destined for the dinner table have been rescued. It’s not what you think, though: These dogs were intended to be dinner. Following rescue from Humane Society International, various local groups around the U.S have taken in these dogs—around 250 total.
Not far from Seoul in South Korea, the dogs once lived at dog meat farms in puppy mill conditions. Living in the dark most—if not all—of the time, they have little human contact. They live in filthy conditions (to put it mildly) and receive no medical care. And, the stench of it all is horrific (remember, a dog’s sense of smell is about 10,000 times more refined than ours).
An estimated 17,000 other such farms still operate in South Korea, although it’s a diminishing industry in a society where demand for dog meat has been plummeting. However, according to the Humane Society, meat from about 2 million dogs is still consumed there each year.
For most Americans, the mere thought makes stomachs turn.
So, why is the rescue of these dogs controversial? Some suggest we have enough dogs here that need rescuing, and that we should allocate our resources locally instead. This is a somewhat valid point, although there are places in America—New York City, Chicago, Boston, and San Francisco, to name a few—where, aside from dogs that look like pit bulls, there is actually a shortage of adoptable dogs. However, adoptable dogs may be brought in from a state where there remains an abundance, such as Arkansas or Tennessee—or even Mexico—rather than South Korea.
But as long as the dogs are carefully health screened, which is sometimes a big IF—remember, the H3N2 dog flu strain likely came in from South Korea—I am all for this.
Lives saved are lives saved. Compassion need not have boundaries. Also, with these dogs’ arrival, there’s the arrival of the media’s attention about this horrific practice. And, part of the reason this demand for dog meat is declining in South Korea is because of bad press. Awareness matters.