Hundreds of dogs and puppies have been rescued from a meat farm in South Korea by an animal rights charity.
The squalid farm in Hongseong in western South Korea, had been breeding dogs both for meat and to be sold as pets for eight years, keeping tiny puppies and adult dogs in cramped, rusting cages.
Nearly 200 Chihuahuas, corgis, huskies, Yorkshire terriers, poodles, Pomeranians, Shih Tzus, and French bulldogs have today been removed by Humane Society International (HSI) activists.
Newborn puppies were found living in cages with exposed wire floors with only heat lamps and disused tyres for insulation, while ‘meat dogs’ were kept outside in the freezing cold waiting to be sold to local restaurants.
Many of the dogs had untreated injuries or deformities to their paws and legs as a result of living in the small cages with no proper flooring.
Others were emaciated with matted fur, or had been left without water in their bowls.
As the farm functioned both to breed meat dogs and as a puppy mill, any ‘pet dogs’ which could not be sold would end up in the slaughterhouse.
‘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,’ Nara Kim of HSI South Korea said.
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.’
Activists from HSI had visited the farm several times in recent weeks, and had been able to move some of the cages indoors, and put straw on the floor.
Finally, after negotiations with the farmer which includes a 20-year contract which ensures he will stay out of the dog meat trade, HSI were finally able to rescue the dogs this week.
The owner, Lee Sang-gu, had been eager to close the farm as the dog meat trade has become increasingly unprofitable.
Dog meat consumption is declining rapidly in South Korea, particularly among younger generations.
Mr Lee says he felt ashamed to be a dog farmer, and that his own family had strongly opposed his profession.
‘From the very beginning, my entire family has been against my dog farming,’ he said.
‘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.’
The 200 dogs rescued in Hongseong will now be flown to the United States and Canada where they will be put up for adoption by HSI.
Mr Lee now hopes to become a security guard, using the financing provided by HSI in exchange for staying out of the dog meat business to take a computer literacy training course.