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International movement to save dogs from South Korean meat farms gaining momentum

Eric Adelson
Columnist

PYEONGCHANG, South Korea – Let the dogs out.

With the Winter Games coming to a close, there’s a movement afoot here to rescue some canines that otherwise might be slaughtered for meat. An international organization devoted to protecting animals is looking to save hundreds of dogs by sending them to North America with flight volunteers.

The goal is to match each dog with a North America-bound traveler who is leaving after the Games. Then an adoption agency will meet the traveler in the U.S. or Canada and find the dog better care and a safe home.

“We aim to save an ambitious 200 dogs,” In Defense of Animals’ communications director Fleur Dawes wrote in an email. “We’re already a quarter-way there! The 47 dogs we rescued so far came from horrific conditions in slaughterhouses and backyard farms in Gyeonggi, South Gyeongsang, and Jeju Island.”

According to the Associated Press, nearly 2.5 million dogs are killed in Korea for their meat each year. Selling dog meat as food is legal in South Korea and other parts of Asia, and a USA Today story earlier this month shed light on the brutal practice.

American freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy plays with a dog at a dog meat farm in Siheung, South Korea. (AP)

“In Korea they usually put a noose around the dog’s neck and take them out back, hang them and beat them,” Marc Ching of the U.S.-based Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation told the newspaper. “Another method is they just smash their head open. Sometimes they do electrocution. They shock them and burn them or de-fur them. With electrocution many times they are still alive. It is terrible.”

Some strongly contend the practice is fading out with an older generation, but the topic has still caused tension during the Olympics. After winning a bronze medal, Dutch speedskater Jan Blokhuijsen called for Koreans to “treat dogs better in this country.” He later apologized under intense criticism.

The practice of transporting dogs is quite expensive, and even more so for large dogs that require a custom-built crate. There is a GoFundMe to raise money for the costs of helping the animals get out of the country. It is run by “a group of individuals who pool our own money to rescue the dogs from Korea.”

“A full rescue can cost up to $2,000 per dog,” according to the site, “which includes medical, boarding, transport, couriers, and coordination of flight.”

But for those who care about dogs and animals in general, the high price is worth it.