ANIMAL rights group Humane Society International (HSI) on Wednesday called on the South Korean government to end the dog meat trade as more than 2.5 million dogs are bred and killed for human consumption every year in thousands of farms across the country.
The group says there are some 17,000 dog meat farms in the country, most using brutal methods to kill the creatures, such as electrocution and hanging.
It says it takes an average five minutes to kill a dog by electrocution, although there have also been numerous cases of dogs taking up to 20 minutes to die.
“Dogs are killed in full view of the other dogs, and their final moments will be terrifying and extremely painful,” HSI said in a statement.
HSI said the dog meat industry was in legal limbo in South Korea as its status was neither legal nor illegal.
Many provisions of the Animal Protection Act, it said, are routinely breached – such as the ban on killing animals in a brutal way including hanging by the neck, killing in public areas or in front of other animals of the same species.
While most South Koreans people do not regularly eat dogs, HSI said the practice was increasingly falling out of favour with the younger generation as many now reject dog meat.
However, 70-80 percent of dog meat is eaten in South Korea during Boknal days, the three hottest days of the summer between July and August, mainly as a peppery soup called bosintang believed to improve stamina and virility.
“Most people in South Korea never visit a dog meat farm and are unaware of the suffering experienced by the dogs.” – HSI
“HSI is keen to dispel the widespread misconception farmed dogs are somehow different in nature to companion dogs.”
Public awareness campaign
To spread public awareness on the issue, HSI has teamed up with Korean-American actor Daniel Henney in a campaign to promote the protection of dogs from the dog meat trade.
The Criminal Minds actor said he took time off his filming schedule to join the initiative he described as “close to his heart.”
In a video interview with HSI, Henney talks about his dog Mango, a 14-year old Golden Retriever.
“Mango is from Korea and I only speak Korean with her. Although she’s been very fortunate, she didn’t have to live a difficult life, she just as easily could have,” he said.
“So I think of every dog out there in Korea as my Mango and they deserve to live a life like hers. They all deserve to be a companion, to be loved because they all have that potential to be amazing like she is.”
Henney’s campaign co-star, Clint, is a Tosa rescued by the HSI team in 2015, the group said.
Humane Society International has rescued more than 800 dogs, including Golden Retrievers just like Mango, as part of its ongoing campaign to see an end to the industry.
Working in co-operation with dog farmers keen to get out of the trade, HSI said it had permanently closed down eight dog farms where dogs were confined their whole lives in barren metal cages with little food or protection from the harsh climate.
The charity plans its ninth dog farm closure in mid-July.
“Daniel and Clint are the perfect partnership for our efforts. Clint’s photo will be seen by millions of people across Seoul, representing the millions of dogs not as lucky as him to have escaped the cruelty.
HSI campaign manager Nara Kim said: “Every dog on a dog meat farm is as special as Clint, capable of being loving and loyal friends, if only given the chance.”
“Daniel is helping us spread that message of compassion to change hearts and minds.”