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Tag: dog meat trade

Korean court says killing dogs to sell their meat is illegal

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A South Korean court has ruled that killing dogs to sell their meat is illegal, but that’s not likely to serve as an immediate reprieve for any of the one to two million dogs slaughtered each year.

Nevertheless, the first of its kind ruling is a step toward outlawing the dog-meat trade in South Korea — one of several Asian countries where the practice, though fading, continues.

The Humane Society International estimates that 30 million dogs a year are killed for food around the world.

The court’s decision was reached in April but not widely known until details were released at the end of June, National Geographic reported.

The decision ruled in favor of the animal rights activist group Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth, or CARE, which sued a dog-farm owner in Bucheon, South Korea, last year for “killing animals without proper reason,” according to Agence France-Presse.

The Bucheon city court convicted the owner on the basis that meat consumption was not a legal reason to kill dogs. The court also said he violated building and hygiene regulations that authorities put in place to crack down on dog-meat farms. The owner was fined three million won (about $2,700 US) and waived his right to an appeal.

“It is very significant in that it is the first court decision that killing dogs for dog meat is illegal itself,” Kim Kyung-eun, a lawyer for CARE, told the Guardian.

The precedent “paved the way for outlawing dog meat consumption entirely”, she added, saying CARE planned to file complaints against “many more” dog farmers.

A lawmaker from the ruling Democratic Party has introduced a bill to the National Assembly to ban dog meat consumption.

Owners of dog farms and slaughterhouses are protesting the ruling.

“Cows, pigs, chickens, and ducks are all raised to be consumed,” said Cho Hwan-ro, a representative from an association of dog farms, on YTN television. “Why not dogs?”

Cho said there are some 17,000 dog farms across the country, and that the government should legalize and license them. “Otherwise,” he said, “we’ll fight to the end.”

Eating dog meat is a fading practice in South Korea, engaged in mostly by older citizens. Younger generations steer clear of dog-meat consumption, adopting the view that dogs are pets, not food.

(Photo: Dogs look out from cages at a dog farm during a rescue event on the outskirts of Seoul in 2017; by JUNG YEON-JE, AFP/GETTY)

Push to ban dog farms in South Korea continues after the Olympics spotlight fades

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The Olympics are long over in South Korea, but the push to get the country to ban farms where dogs are bred for human consumption, continues — and with a few positive developments.

A new bill, introduced to the National Assembly earlier this month by Lee Sang-don, a member of the Bareunmirae party, would remove the legal basis for factory-style mass breeding of dogs, reported the Korea Times.

Animal Liberation Wave, an animal rights group that launched a campaign against the farms in January, praises the introduction of the bill.

“There are more than 3,000 dog farms where a million dogs get slaughtered every year,” it said in a statement this week. “We hope the bill will become a law to take the first step to end the dog meat industry in Korea.”

The campaign seeks to ban the production and consumption of dog meat and to have dogs legally defined as companions only.

It is still legal to breed dogs to sell their meat in South Korea — and to consume it — as long as the animals are not killed in open areas.

The practice of eating dog meat has been declining, and younger Koreans are generally opposed to it.

But the tradition continues among older people, many of whom believe dog meat aids their virility.

Under livestock industry law, farmers can pursue profit with livestock, which includes dogs and many other animals. But according to the Livestock Processing Act, dogs are not categorized as livestock.

As a result of that, dog meat cannot be traded through major distribution channels like other meat. Instead it is most often sold directly to restaurants, or at outdoor markets.

According to the Seoul Metropolitan Government, the number of restaurants serving dog meat soup, known as “bosintang,” decreased from 528 in 2005 to 329 in 2014.

Regardless, the ALW says, there are still up to 3,000 dog meat farms operating in the country, where more than a million are raised each year, only to be slaughtered for their meat.

The Animal Liberation Wave (ALW), in partnership with the international animal rights organization Last Chance for Animals (LCA), launched a global campaign to ban dog meat from South Korea. The campaign started with a website, petition page (www.donghaemul.com/stopdogmeat) and video against dog meat.

Jiyen Lee, the founder of ALW, said, “there has been a tendency in this country to consider the dog meat issue as a matter of personal choice when in fact it is the government who is hugely responsible for exacerbating the problem by failing to formulate social consensus.

“It is high time that a change is made to fit the current Korean society where 1 out of 5 nationals are living with dogs as companions.”

As part of the campaign, a “Flower Dog Project” is underway, featuring 8 dog statues that will appear in major cities.

(Image, from the Flower Dog Project, via Animal Liberation Wave)

Bill to prohibit eating dog and cat makes gains in Congress


Lawmakers in Washington are pushing ahead with legislation that would ban the eating of dog and cat meat in the U.S.

The Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act of 2017, first introduced in March, has 100 co-sponsors and has been referred to a House Agriculture subcommittee.

Introduced by Reps. Alcee Hastings (D-Fla.) and Vern Buchanan (R-Fla.), it would amend the federal Animal Welfare Act to establish legal standards against selling dog and cat meat, currently allowed in 44 states.

“We are very happy to have the support of so many activists who have taken up this issue with their own members of Congress,” Hastings told The Hill Thursday.

jindolBackers of the bill hope that it fills gaps in the animal protection law, and sends a message to Asian countries where dog meat is still consumed, including South Korea and China, where the annual Yulin festival in China sees thousands of dogs and cats are publicly killed and skinned, and their meat marketed for human consumption.

Animal rights activists are hoping publicity about the upcoming festival will provide momentum to the bill in Congress, and that the bill, similarly, will fuel opposition to the festival.

“I think that some people initially considered the idea of killing dogs for meat far-fetched,” Wayne Pacelle, president and CEO of the Humane Society of the United States, told The Hill. “But the very real butchering of dogs in Yulin reminds people that it is a very serious and disturbing issue.”

Earlier this year, Rep. Hastings introduced a resolution condemning the festival, which now has 166 co-sponsors from both parties.

While dog meat consumption in the U.S. is limited, most states still allow dogs to be raised and sold for meat. Only California, Georgia, Hawaii, Michigan, New York and Virginia have banned such practices.

(Photos: At top, dogs awaiting slaughter at a street market near Seoul; lower, my favorite meat dog, Jinjja, rescued from a dog meat farm in South Korea; photos by John Woestendiek)

A little reminder from Jinjja and me

A friend came across this ABC News video from a year and a half ago, depicting more than 30 dogs rescued from a meat farm in Korea on their way to shelters in North Carolina to be put up for adoption.

As she guessed, the second dog to last dog shown in the video, is — though Jindos can look pretty similar — the one that now belongs to me, I think.

jindolJinjja is his name.

He has come a long way since this news footage (which I’d never seen) was shot — turning from a virtually wild dog scared of everything to a trusting and loyal companion.

I thought, with the 2018 Winter Olympics concluding, with the controversial dog meat trade having diverted only a little focus from the games, this would be a good time to remember that a small minority of Koreans eat dog.

Despite government efforts to suspend or at least better hide the practice, dog meat was still being served in restaurants in PyeongChang, and numerous dog farms are located within just miles of Olympic venues.

With all those inspiring moments of athletic achievement we watched, all those examples of humans trying to be their best, it was easy to ignore that harsh reality — that one to two million farm dogs are butchered each year in South Korea.

Some news media used the Olympics as an opportunity to remind us of it. Others, like NBC, barely touched on it — apparently not wanting to turns its spotlight from those inspiring moments of athletic achievement. Instead, it presented South Korea’s best side, and that best side is a truly great side.

But South Korea has a worst side, too, and yes, we just reminded you of it.

Some would say eating dog meat is part of Korean culture, and thus deserves to be free from criticism, but it doesn’t — not anymore than the tradition of slavery in America deserves to be excused, forgotten or forgiven.

gus-kenworthy-matt-wilkas-dogBefore the Olympics was a good time to let South Korea know, as many did, what the rest of the world thinks about the practice. During the Olympics was a good time too, and some Olympians even did.

In addition to the other Olympians who were planning to help a Korean farm dog get to the U.S., one, Gus Kenworthy, a member of the US. Olympic ski team, also took action.

Kenworthy, who brought home a rescue dog after the Sochi Olympics, visited a dog farm near PyeongChang in the process of being closed by Humane Society International and left with a puppy named Beemo, according to PEOPLE magazine.

He didn’t single-handedly rescue 90 dogs from the farm, as a Fox News headline shouted: “US Olympian Gus Gus Kenworthy rescues 90 dogs from Korean dog meat farm.” But he did assist Humane Society International in gathering up the dogs and arranged to adopt one of them.

Hyped as reports like that might be, photo ops that they might be, its good so see some attention on the issue.

If it’s one you feel strongly about, express that somehow. Comment here, or elsewhere, or sign a petition. Contribute to Humane Society International’s program that cuts deals with the dog farmers to close their farms, and brings the dogs to the U.S. and Canada for adoption. Provide a home to one of those who end up here.

You won’t get a gold medal for it. But you might keep one dog from ending up on a dinner plate or in a soup bowl. And for that you can feel proud.

(Bottom photo: Gus Kenworthy /Instagram)

Few restaurants comply with official request to stop serving dog meat during Olympics


As the Winter Olympics got underway in PyeongChang, dog meat was still being openly served in most restaurants that offer it, despite attempts by the government to keep a lid on the practice.

The South Korean government had requested restaurants cease the practice and even offered subsidies to those that did, but only two of the 12 restaurants serving dog meat in PyeongChang complied, a county government official told AFP.

A minority of South Koreans still consume dog meat — most commonly in a soup called boshintang — many of them in the belief it leads to increased energy during the hot summer months.

Between 1 and 2 million dogs a year across the country a year are butchered and sold at markets and to restaurants.

Well before the Olympics began, activists stepped up campaigns to ban dog consumption, with protests in Seoul and online petitions urging boycotts.

In PyeongChang, the county government asked the restaurants with dog meat items on the menu to stop serving the food in exchange for subsidies.

“Some of them initially shifted to selling pork or things instead of dog meat only to find their sales plunging sharply. They then switched back to dog meat,” PyeongChang County government official Lee Yong-bae told AFP.

“We’ve faced a lot of complaints from restaurant operators that we are threatening their livelihood,” he said.

Signs advertising dog meat dishes such as boshintang, yeongyangtang or sacheoltang have been replaced with more neutral ones such as yeomsotang (goat soup) to avoid giving “a bad impression to foreigners” during the games, according to Channel News Asia.

South Korean authorities periodically try to persuade restaurants to change their menus or drop signs suggestive of dog meat during major international events hosted by the country, as was the case with the Summer Olympics in Seoul in 1988.

The tradition has declined as the nation increasingly embraces the idea of dogs as pets instead of livestock, and most younger South Koreans avoid it.

A Gangwon province official told The Associated Press there were no plans to relocate dog farms situated near Olympic areas. There is one farm near Pyeongchang; six near Jeongseon, where the downhill skiing course is located; and 10 in Gangnueng, the coastal town that will host events like figure skating and hockey. Gangwon has 196 registered dog farms, though most are closer to Seoul.

While NBC isn’t too likely to be showing us any of the during its Olympics coverage, USA Today provided a fairly expansive report on one such farm today

Hundreds of dogs have been removed from Korean dog farms by Humane Society International and sent to the United States for adoption, including mine, a Jindo named Jinjja.

The group assists the farmers in establishing new careers in exchange for closing down and surrendering their dogs.

duhamel2One Olympic competitor, Canadian figure skater Meagan Duhamel escorted two rescued farm dogs on a flight back to Canada after competing in a qualifying event last year in PyenongChang.

Duhamel adopted one of them, through the group Free Korean Dogs.

“Most of the time, he just wants to sit in everybody’s arms,” Duhamel said of the dachshund mix, named Moo-tae. “He doesn’t even care to play, he just walks up to everybody and wants to be held.”

Duhamel, a silver medalist in Sochi, is hoping to assist in closing a dog farm once the Olympics conclude. She, American skier Gus Kenworthy and American snowboarder Lindsey Jacobellis have appeared in a public service announcement about the dog meat trade.

Duhamel has arranged to fly home another rescued farm dog when she returns to Canada, so it can be put up for adoption there, according to CBS News.

(Photos: At top, Park Young-ae, owner of Young Hoon Restaurant, arranges dog meats at her restaurant in Pyeongchang, South Korea, Associated Press; photo of Duhamel and Moo-tae, courtesy of Free Korean Dogs)

Gang members arrested in China for selling poison darts used to kill dogs for meat

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Thousands of poisoned syringes that were sold to dog meat vendors to instantly kill dogs on the streets have been seized by police in China.

The police investigation led to the discovery of a ton of dead dogs at a storage facility in the eastern province of Anhui, and the arrest of eight gang members who were selling the weapon in 20 provinces and regions across the China, the news agency Xinhua said.

Police believe the gang sold more than 200,000 poisoned syringes to vendors who hunted pets on the street and traded their meat with restaurants.

The syringes contained a large enough dose of the muscle relaxant suxamethonium to kill the dogs instantly — and enough to be toxic to any human later consuming the dog’s meat.

Police said the needles were modified with a spring and a tailfin at the rear so they could be shot like a dart.

The Telegraph reported that the investigation into the gang began in September when police were tipped off by a postal worker who came across a suspicious package leaking a pungent smelling fluid.

syringesThey discovered 200 syringes in the package, and arrested the man who it was being delivered to in Huainan city, in Anhui.

Police then arrested two accomplices who shot the dogs in local streets, before finding a ton of frozen dogs at a nearby cold storage.

The men had frozen the meat and had planned to sell it in the winter.

Police also raided the gang’s workshop in central China’s Hubei Province, where they arrested another five men who were making the syringes.

At that site they discovered four kilograms of the chemical powder, 10,000 needles and 100,000 yuan, or more than $15,000, Xinhua said.

The poisoned darts have been in use for years. Two years ago, in Hunan province, a man who ran a dog meat-selling operation shot himself with one while demonstrating how to fire one with a crossbow. He died on his way to the hospital.

The other members of the operation were later arrested, and confessed to freezing the canine carcasses with the intention of selling the meat to restaurants.

“The dog meat trade in China is organized, large scale and facilitated by crime, with as many as 20 million dogs and four million cats killed every year,” said Wendy Higgins, from the Humane Society International. “Stopping the gangs involved is a major step in the right direction.”

She added: “The use of poison to catch dogs for the meat trade is a cruelty that very often sees people’s beloved pets targeted, and the animals involved can suffer enormously.”

Dog meat has long been consumed by humans in China and other Asian countries. It is eaten by a small minority of Chinese, and the practice is fading as dogs become a popular pet.

Korean Jindo mix lost by Wag! walker is back home safely in New York

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I can attest that a loose Jindo — at least one who has been rescued from a South Korean dog meat farm — can be hard to recapture when it gets off the leash.

Now Wag! — the app that has been called the “Uber of dog-walking” — can too.

The two-week search for Teddy, a 4-year-old black Jindo mix, saw the company use drones, hire Jindo experts and procure the services of a professional trapper.

Teddy is now back home safe after being lured into a cage containing hot dogs treated with Liquid Smoke at the Brooklyn Botanic Garden Sunday.

“She’s good!” Teddy’s owner Kane Giblin said. “Her paws are a little beat up, and she has a tick and has lost a little weight, but she’s doing alright.”

Teddy, like my Jindo, Jinjja, was rescued from a dog meat farm in South Korea and brought to the U.S. for adoption.

jindolJinjja has escaped four times. It’s a function of nature and nurture (or their lack thereof in dog farms). The breed is notorious for escaping.

And, with dog farm dogs, once they do escape, they are off — not heeding calls to come back, or offers of a snack. On dog farms, coming when called is unlikely to result in a positive outcome. So once loose, they get in a wild dog frame of mind, and the harder you try to catch them, the harder they become to catch.

Jinjja is a sweet and otherwise normal dog, who will come to me when called while in the house. If he’s outside, and gets off the leash, it’s another story. Can that be overcome? Stay tuned.

giblinandteddyKane Giblin adopted Teddy after the Jindo-Lab mix was rescued from a South Korean dog meat farm in May.

The dog managed to get free while on a stroll in Prospect Park on Nov. 30 with a Wag! dog walker.

After nearly two weeks of roaming, Teddy was spotted Sunday morning in a trap set by by trappers hired by Wag.

A Brooklyn Botanic Gardens employee notified Giblin by text that she’d been recaptured.

They’d baited the cage with hot dogs and liquid smoke to lure Teddy, the New York Daily News reported.

Wag! had taken other steps to find the dog, including setting up a special hotline and hiring workers to hang missing dog flyers. It used drones to search for the dog aerially, and it hired a Jindo expert who brought in her own Jindos to help track Teddy.

Giblin says she appreciates the efforts Wag! made in locating Teddy, but that she’s no longer comfortable using the service.

A Wag! spokeswoman said in a statement, “We are delighted that Teddy is back home with [her] owner, safe and in good health.”​

Teddy’s escape isn’t the first time a Wag! walker lost a dog. Buddy, a Beagle-Lab mix, escaped in September while his owners were on vacation. And a Brooklyn Chihuahua named Duckie went missing in 2015, and was fatally hit by a car.