There are about 17,000 dog meat farms in South Korea, which end up raising over 2.5 million dogs every year to sell for human consumption.
These facilities are known for their deplorable conditions as well as their horrible mistreatment of dogs, which is why so many animal organizations are fighting to shut all of them down. Humane Society International (HSI), the international arm of The Humane Society of the United States (HSUS), has just successfully closed a seventh farm in its efforts to end the selling of dog meat, but say it's "unlike anything the team had seen before."
Fifty-five adult dogs and puppies were kept entirely indoors in metal cages, with no daylight or fresh air at the farm in Goyang.
"It literally took my breath away, not least because when we first entered the darkness, the stench was overpowering. The ammonia burned the back of our throats. We could hear the dogs’ desperate barks but we couldn’t see their faces properly, just their eyes peering out," said Adam Parascandola, director of animal protection and crisis response for HSI.
Two of the dogs are thought to be former pets that were abandoned or sold for meat. Another had an electric shock collar so tight around his neck that it wouldn't have been much longer before it started digging into his flesh.
HSI agreed to take the dogs, as the the farmer owners, a husband and wife, were in their 70s and looking to retire. They wanted to leave the dog meat industry so they contacted the organization to give the dogs a better life.
The poor things were terrified of their rescuers. "Most appear to have had little human contact and many of them are understandably very frightened of people, cowering as we approach and trying to hide in corners," said Parascandola.
"But we know from experience that once we take them to a safe place and they feel secure and loved, they’ll learn to trust. Their capacity to bounce back from the worst situations is astonishing to me," he added.
Now all the dogs will be flown from Seoul to the U.S., where they will be taken to animal shelters in Pennsylvania, Maryland, and Texas as part of HSUS' Emergency Placement Partner program.
These pups may not know it now, but they'll never have to suffer or be afraid again.