The four new arrivals at the Watauga Humane Society, a no-kill shelter nestled in the hills outside Boone, N.C., started adapting to their new lives not long after they were removed from a farm south of Seoul, Korea.
They continued to grow a little less timid and fearful of humans while they were quarantined in a sanctuary there, flown to the U.S., driven hundreds of miles to five different shelters and quarantined again.
Soon, they’ll be making the final step on the way to becoming pets, instead of meat.
And those 31 are among 525 who have come to the U.S. and Canada since the beginning of last year, when Humane Society International added a new strategy to its campaign to bring an end to dog farms in Korea — closing them down one farm at a time.
Representatives of HSI, working with local animal activists in South Korea, have succeeded in shutting down five farms since then — usually by negotiating deals with the farmers and persuading them to pursue new, less brutal livelihoods.
One dog farm became a blueberry farm. Another switched from raising dogs to growing chili peppers. One dog farmer agreed to stop dog farming and, with help from HSI, started a water delivery business.
It’s only a small dent, given there are thousands of dog farms in South Korea, some with 1,000 dogs or more, all being raised to be sold for their meat.
They are commonly abused and neglected and spend their lives in crates before being sold to markets, where things get even crueler.
Farm dogs are sometimes boiled alive, sometimes beaten before slaughter under the belief that it makes their meat more flavorful. Their meat is sold to individuals and restaurants at open air markets, where you can pick a live one for butchering.
It’s all a perfectly legal tradition under laws in Korea, where a minority of the population still eats dogs, and many believe the meat offers health benefits, particularly in the summer months.
That minority is shrinking more as younger Koreans turn away from the practice, a fledgling animal welfare movement grows and the perception of dogs as family members becomes more widespread.
Perhaps, South Korea will, in time, outgrow the practice. Perhaps the Olympics coming to Seoul in 2018 — as it did in 1988 — will lead government officials, who did their best to hide it then, to take more meaningful steps.
Until then, animal activists — locally and globally — do what they can.
My first exposure to dog farms was seven years ago, when I went to South Korea to research a book I was writing on dog cloning. On the road to achieving that “feat,” researchers regularly bought and borrowed meat dogs from farms, using them for experiments, to help clone the first canine and to clone the dogs of pet-owning customers once the practice hit the marketplace.
I ended up at Moran Market — and quickly wished I hadn’t.
Images of what I saw then still pop up in my head, unasked. I’ll spare you the graphic details.
It is estimated that more than 2 million dogs are slaughtered for human consumption in South Korea each year.
Add in those consumed in China, Vietnam and other Asian countries, and as many as 30 million dogs a year are killed for their meat.
South Korea is the only country where the practice has been industrialized. The New York Times reported in May that government data show there are more than 17,000 dog farms.
The Humane Society program is an attempt to shine a light on the issue, while also giving at least a few of the dogs a chance. On top of that, it strives to show that farm dogs, stigmatized in Korea and often perceived as different from pet dogs, are one and the same.
In one of the largest agreements brokered so far, this past May, a dog farmer in Wonju turned over all 260 of the dogs he was raising — mostly on discarded scraps he collected from restaurants — in exchange for certain considerations.
The particulars of the deal weren’t announced, but HSI offers incentives to farmers — $2,000 to $60,000 depending on the number of dogs involved — who agree to forfeit their dogs and get out of the business.
That farmer, Gong In-young, told the New York Times that many of the dogs were just weeks away from being sent to the slaughterhouse.
Gong, in addition to his farm dogs, had a pet dog, too. Asked about the difference in the lives of his farm dogs and his own dog, a spitz named Snow White, he described it as “the difference between heaven and hell.”
The most recent batch of dogs transported to the U.S. by HSI was small by comparison.
The dogs lived on a small farm in Jeonju, about 120 miles south of Seoul. A Canadian organization, Free Korean Dogs, was tipped off about it by local activists and, upon further investigation, learned it was an illegal operation.
While dog farms are legal, this farmer and his dogs were squatters, occupying land that didn’t belong to him. Law enforcement authorities were contacted and ordered the farmer and the dogs off the land.
That left the farmer willing to negotiate, and he eventually agreed to turn all 30-plus dogs over to a sanctuary at the end of July.
HSI, working with Free Korean Dogs, then took steps to have them shipped to the U.S., making arrangements for them to be taken in and adopted out by no-kill shelters who participate in the Humane Society’s Emergency Placement Partners program.
Those who participate in the program accept dogs the Humane Society has rescued — from everything from puppy mills to natural disasters.
All 31 farm dogs, after their flight and a few days in Maryland, were brought to shelters in North Carolina.
In the parking lot of a shopping center in Cary, the dogs were turned over to volunteers from local humane societies and shelters in the state, the News & Observer reported.
Those shelters included Cashiers Highlands Humane Society, Paws of Bryson City, Moore Humane Society in Carthage, Outer Banks SPCA in Manteo, and the Watauga Humane Society in Boone.
I visited the four who went to Boone last week.
I wanted to take some photos. I wanted to see how anti-social and fearful of humans they might be, or if that resilience dogs are famous for was already becoming apparent.
I wanted to understand how hard it might be for them to shake the past. Many who have adopted them say they’ve gone on to make greats pets — as has been the case with many of Michael Vick’s fighting dogs, puppy mill dogs and other dogs who have seen and suffered from the worst in humans.
And in the back of my head, which is also where those images of meat market dogs linger, I was thinking I might like to have one.
(Tomorrow: Visiting four Jindos in Boone)
(Photos: From top to bottom, Jindol, one of the four Korean dogs now at the Watauga Humane Society, by John Woestendiek; caged dogs at a South Korean dog farm, by Jean Chung for The New York Times; dogs awaiting butchering at Moran Market in Seoul, by John Woestendiek)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 12th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adopt, adopted, adoption, animals, cloning, dog meat, dog meat trade, dogs, eaten, emergency placement partners, farm, food, free korea dogs, free korean dogs, humane society international, humane society of the united states, jeonju, korea, meat dogs, Moore Humane Society, moran meat market, north carolina, olympics, Outer Banks SPCA, pets, rescue, rescued, restaurants, seoul, shelters, south korea, united states, watauga humane society
This is not a Halloween costume for your dog, though it could work for one.
And it’s not a full body version of the ThunderShirt, though it could work as that, too.
It’s not made for dogs with body issues, or to hide embarrassing skin conditions, or to keep them from delving nose first into regions of their body that are best left alone in polite company — though it could work for all those things, too.
According to the website for the Shed Defender, Tyson Walters was inspired to make it after he moved back home after studying at San Diego State University.
“I needed a solution to control Harley’s hair; it was everywhere,” he says on the website. “I had tumbleweeds of her hair on my hardwood floors. My car was close to ruined because of all the hair intertwined in the fabric. There was nothing I could do, just brush and brush and brush, and yet that still wasn’t enough.”
The outcome, he says on the website, is a “flawless design that is not only effective, but also allows for a comfortable fit for the dog.”
It is made of a “lightweight, breathable, stretchy athletic mesh that does NOT make the dog hot.”
The Shed Defender is priced at $44.99 for a small, up to $59.99 for an XXL.
A video on the website shows how easily it can be put on a dog, and advises one to take special care when zipping it up, especially in the groin area.
“Once you take it off just shake it out or throw it in the dryer to remove the hair.”
The outfit leaves the dogs tail and rear exposed, and it can be partially unzipped when the dog goes out to pee.
They come in a choice of vibrant colors, and Walters is reported to be contemplating adding a line fashioned like sports team jerseys.
(Photos and video from Shed Defender website)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 11th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, apparel, car, clothing, costumes, dog, dog hair, dog wear, dogs, hair, halloween, home, leotard, onesie, outfit, pet products, pets, shed, shed defender, shedding, snuggie, tyson walters
A family who fled from Aleppo after a missile hit their home has been reunited with the dog they had to leave behind.
The reunion in Montreal, where the family now lives, came after a family member sent an email to SPCA International seeking help.
“I left Syria urgently with my mom and my brother, but we left our lovely dog, Fox, in Aleppo, Syria. We left him with our dad in a very dangerous area named Syrian El-Jadideh. Please help us bring our Fox [to Montreal]. Mom [is] always crying. She is extremely worried about Fox.”
In addition to the disabled father, an elderly grandmother and the dog remained in Syria when the mother and her two sons left the country, not long after a missile struck their home in 2015.
Fox was taken from Aleppo to Damascus and across the border to Lebanon by car, before being flown to Germany, and finally to Canada’s Pierre Elliott Trudeau International Airport on Sept. 26, where his family was waiting for him.
“It was a great feeling seeing Fox again. He was in our thoughts for so long and it felt like something was missing,” said Gaby Andrawos, one of the sons. “It felt like a very important part of our lives was missing for a long time and we finally got him back.”
Posted by John Woestendiek October 10th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: aleppo, animals, canada, dog, dogs, fled, fox, home, missile, montreal, pets, refugees, reunion, reunited, reunites, syria, syrian
Archaeologists say they have uncovered evidence that dogs weren’t just already domesticated by man 7,000 years ago, but they were taking road trips with him as well.
They say a dog’s tooth found one mile from Stonehenge is the earliest evidence of people traveling to the site of the prehistoric monument — even before its famous rock formation was constructed, believed to be 5,000 years ago.
An isotope analysis of the tooth’s enamel at Durham University showed the dog originally hailed from York, or at least had consumed water there. Bones found near the site suggest the dog feasted on salmon, trout, pike, wild pig and red deer.
Researchers believe the dog made the 250-mile trip from York to Wiltshire 7,000 years ago with a Mesolithic hunter-gatherer.
Possibly, they say, he was taking it there to trade.
Archaeologist David Jacques, who leads the team digging at an encampment site called Blick Mead, said the findings show that dogs were domesticated by Mesolithic times, and that, contrary to popular thought, man was doing some long distance travel back then.
And it shows that what’s now the world’s most famous prehistoric monument was drawing people from afar even before whoever arranged those rocks arranged those rocks.
“The fact that a dog and a group of people were coming to the area from such a long distance away further underlines just how important the place was four millennia before the circle was built,” said Jacques, a senior research fellow at the University of Buckingham.
As the decade-long dig continues, The Guardian reported, evidence is accumulating that Stonehenge — as long as 7,000 years ago — was a gathering place.
“It makes us wonder if this place is a hub point, a really important place for the spread of ideas, new technologies and probably genes,” Jacques said.
Our guess? It was a flea market.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 7th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, archaeologists, archaeology, blick mead, dig, discovered, discovery, dog, domesticated, domestication, found, heritage, isotope analysis, mesolithic, monument, pets, prehistoric, research, road trip, stonehenge, study, teeth, tooth, travel, wilshire
While both human children and dogs learn from copying adult humans, dogs are better at spotting the bullshit.
So says (though not in those words) a new study from Yale University’s Canine Cognition Center.
Imitation, in addition to being the sincerest form of flattery, is how we — be we a puppy or a baby — learn. But young humans tend to be more trusting, following adult advice exactly. Dogs are more likely to see a shorter route to accomplishing the goal and opt for it, filtering out unnecessary steps that are just a waste of time.
(Might this explain why dogs don’t watch television all that much, or get on the Internet?)
In the experiment, researchers presented over 40 breeds of dogs with treats hidden inside puzzles.
They showed the dogs the steps necessary to solving the puzzle, but in doing so they included many unnecessary steps.
When the dogs’ turn came to solve the puzzle, they skipped the irrelevant steps that had nothing to do with getting to the treats, showing that dogs are able, or at least more able than human children, to separate bad advice from good advice.
Researchers contrasted their study results with those from a similar study at Yale that examined children, and they found humans relied more on imitation than the dogs. The children, after watching an adult solve the puzzle, tended to duplicate every step — even the unnecessary ones.
The study is similar to one about a decade ago that compared chimpanzees with human puzzle solvers. Chimpanzees, while prone to imitation, were slightly better at discerning the unnecessary steps and avoiding them than humans.
“So this tells us something really important about how humans learn relative to other animals,” said Yale Professor of Psychology Laurie Santos, one of the study’s authors. “We’re really trusting of the information that we get from other individuals – even more trusting than dogs are.”
“And what this means is we have to be really careful about the kinds of information we present ourselves with,” she added. “We’re not going to have the right filter for bad information, so we should stick to looking at information that’s going to be positive, information that’s going to be good.”
Or, as easily duped as our species is, we could just let dogs give us the advice.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 6th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, brains, canine cognition center, children, cognition, copying, dogs, experiment, filter, humans, imitation, information, pets, problem solving, puzzles, relevance, science, study, trust, yale university
Moscow’s stray dogs, as we’ve previously reported, make good use of the city subway system — and authorities and residents generally tolerate it.
But this week when a stray, apparently seeking a warm place to deliver her litter, boarded a train to give birth during rush hour, they were even more cooperative.
Passengers got off the train and put up with hour-long delays so the train the dog was on could be sent to a depot for a more private birthing experience.
As you can see in the video above, a number of people volunteered to help.
At the depot, under the supervision of metro workers and a vet they called in to supervise, she gave birth to nine pups — and the metro administration has started a campaign to find homes for all of them, Sputnik News reported.
After the births, they were all taken to a shelter.
Dogs boarding trains and taking seats is a fairly common sight in Moscow, where strays are plentiful and steps to shelter and find them homes are not.
In fact, the stray dogs of Moscow are a true social phenomenon. Some of them commute from the suburbs by train because it is easier to get handouts from humans in the city.
Foraging dogs have long been part of Moscow’s landscape, but they stayed mostly in the city’s industrial zones and lived a semi-feral existence. They mainly relied on discarded food and kept their distance from humans. But with old factories being transformed into shopping centers and apartments, strays have learned humans have the food and the inner city is the place to beg.
It’s sort of a small scale reenactment, with a twist, of the whole domestication of the species — dogs turned feral returning once again for a human handout and, in the process, learning big city ways.
The strays have learned to cross the street with pedestrians. Some believe that, even though the color difference is not noticeable to dogs, they’ve learned to understand the walking man signal.
As a country, though it has made strides, Russia doesn’t exactly have a shining reputation when it comes to an animal welfare. Remember Sochi?
But, as a people — even though they are often depicted as cold and hard-hearted — they have some compassion for dogs.
Maybe that’s genetic, maybe it comes from knowing how cold cold can get, maybe, in the case of Moscow, it intensifies when you’re sharing an urban area — the streets, the sidewalks, the train, your lunch — with them.
Posted by John Woestendiek October 5th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: adopt, adoption, animals, birth, delivers, dog, dogs, feral, metro, moscow, nine, pets, pregnant, puppies, pups, russia, shelter, strays, subway, subway dogs, train, train dogs
A German photographer is capturing the rapture of dogs who know a treat is on the way.
Manuela Kulpa, a renowned animal photographer who lives near Cologne, Germany, focuses in this series on the faces of dogs as they prepare to catch a treat.
Capturing the joyful anticipation of that drool-filled moment can take as many as 80 tries, she told The Mirror.
The dogs she worked with, almost all rescues, included a flat-coated retriever, French bulldog and Bernese mountain dog, a dachshund mix, a munsterlander, a pit bull terrier and a Jack Russell terrier.
Kulpa, 46, is a self-employed IT programmer and consultant. She and her husband Stefan, also a photographer, have their own dog, a golden retriever called Dobby, as well as three cats.
“There are certain prerequisites that have to be fulfilled for us to capture these images,” she said, “things like the dog must follow the sit and stay commands and must be able to or at least try to catch treats from the photographer.
“We have to sit very close in front of the dog, throw the treat and then try to synchronise the treat catching with the triggering of the camera.
“I love the dogs’ expressions,” she added. “They remind us with their cheerfulness how important it is to enjoy the moment.”
Posted by John Woestendiek October 4th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, anticipation, art, dog, dogs, emotions, expressions, expressive, face, happy, look, manuela kulpa, pets, photographer, photograpy, photos, smiles, stefan kulpa, treats