(Second of two parts)
Their eyes said yes, their feet said no.
All four of the dogs at the Watauga Humane Society — each being held in individual quarantined kennels after their trip from Korea — initially reacted the same when I stepped inside.
They’d take one step forward, their bright eyes shining with what seemed to be excitement, anticipation or maybe curiosity; then they’d take three steps back.
It was understandable. They’d come from a farm in South Korea — one of more than 1,000 such farms there where dogs are raised as livestock and sold as meat, where they’re often mistreated and neglected and have little human contact.
In the weeks since they were rescued from a farm in Jongju, quarantined and, along with 27 others, shipped to the U.S., the four dogs have grown a little more sociable by the day.
Yet clearly, they were still torn between the fear they had learned from experience and that innate something — call it resilience, goodness of spirit, or that seemingly limitless and often unexplainable love for our species — that all dogs are born with.
With dogs, that innate something, given a chance, almost always wins out.
That has been the case with rescued fighting dogs, puppy mill dogs, and those raised as meat. They’re willing, despite whatever mistreatment they endured at our hands, to give our species a second chance.
We sometimes return the favor.
Since the beginning of 2015, Humane Society International has worked with Korean animal activists to remove 525 dogs from Korean dog farms and ship them to the U.S. and Canada to find new homes as pets.
The organization works to persuade dog farmers to forfeit their canine livestock and move on to new careers, often providing financial incentives for them to do so.
The latest shipment was a smaller one — 31 dogs from Jonju, and they’ve been distributed among five different North Carolina humane societies and shelters that serve as emergency placement partners for HSI and HSUS.
All four of the dogs who came to Watauga Humane Society were Jindos, a breed known for their loyalty that originated on the island of Jindo, off the southern coast of South Korea.
The breed has been designated by the Korean government as a national treasure.
Yet they — especially the white and yellow ones — are commonly seen in cages at outdoor meat markets, waiting to be sold, slaughtered and butchered.
At the farms, the dogs spend most of their lives in cages, treated like livestock, at best — and sometimes worse than that.
How does a dog raised in those conditions go on to be a family pet?
In small and hesitant steps, not overnight, and not without some work and patience.
But the proven fact is, they do.
That has been the case with the the four previous batches of farm dogs who have been rescued from Korea and gone on to find adoptive homes in the U.S. and Canada.
“I can give you hundreds of stories of wonderful adoptions that have taken place with them,” said Kelly O’Meara, director of companion animals and engagement for HSI.
The four Korean dogs that came to the Watauga Humane Society had been there three days when I visited. In the quarantine area, I walked into each of their kennels and took a seat on the floor.
One sat in the outside section of his kennel and — no matter how much I gently coaxed — would take more than a step or two inside.
Another trembled in the corner, venturing a little closer after 10 minutes passed, but only close enough for a quick sniff.
One came within a few feet of me and retreated, before lingering long enough to allow herself to be petted.
The fourth would come close, then fall back, finally coming close enough to sniff my hand, and allow it to pet him. He decided he liked it.
“Every day gets a little better,” said the HSI’s O’Meara. “You’ll hear from the shelters, ‘He gets closer, he sniffed me today.’ It’s a big deal for a dog that wouldn’t come within five feet, and now its coming up and licking your hands.
“Some take months but they do get there and when they do, they’re wonderful companion dogs,” she added.
The four are expected to get out of quarantine next week. Then they’ll be taken to Asheville to be spayed and neutered. Depending on how the dogs react to that, the Watauga Humane Society could start taking applications from people interested in adopting them the last week in October.
Details will be announced on their Facebook page.
At the Cashiers Highlands Humane Society, applications are already being taken for the 11 Korean dogs they took in, though the dogs won’t be able to be taken home until after Nov. 7 when they are spayed or neutered.
Other dogs that were rescued from the farm in Jonju — an illegal one because the farmer didn’t own the land he was using — are at Paws of Bryson City, Moore Humane Society in Carthage, and Outer Banks SPCA in Manteo
Laurie Vierheller, executive director of the Watauga Humane Society, said helping the dogs find a home is rewarding in itself, but the benefits to a shelter go beyond that.
Taking in the dogs strikes a chord with the dog-loving community members whose contributions keep local humane societies afloat. It brings traffic to a shelter, and often those who come to see the dogs rescued in a high-profile case end up going home with one, or adopting another resident of the shelter.
The HSI’s O’Meara says some shelters and humane societies avoid getting involved as emergency placement partners because they want to focus on finding homes for local dogs in need.
But those who do take part, she said, have noted “a spike in adoptions, for all dogs, when they receive these dogs…One shelter, within two weeks of the dogs arriving, every dog in facility was adopted out.”
“It highlights the work they do in their communities. These homeless animals come with an incredible story. That brings in traffic, and brings in people who would provide wonderful homes.”
(Part one of this series can be found here)
(Photos: Jindol, at top, and the other Korean farm dogs soon to be available for adoption at the Watauga Humane Society; by John Woestendiek)
Posted by John Woestendiek October 13th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: adopt, adoption, animals, boone, dog, dog farms, dog meat trade, dogs, emergency placement partners, farm, farm dogs, free korea dogs, hsi, hsus, humane societies, humane society international, jindo, jindos, korea, korean, north carolina, pets, rehabilitation, rescue, rescued, resilience, shelters, socialization, watauga county, watauga humane society
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.
(For part two of this story, click here.)
(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
When singer-songwriter MadLyn filmed her latest music video she chose Salvation Mountain as the setting — a location that’s near the top of my list when it comes to American places of quirky and unnatural beauty.
And she brought her dog, Lucy, along to serve as the video’s co-star.
Salvation Mountain, built of trash, straw, adobe and and thousands of gallons of vibrantly colored paint, was one man’s tribute to his faith in God, and even though I’m not religious, I was fortunate enough to drop by and meet him twice (the mountain’s creator, not The Creator) when he was alive.
Once, for a magazine story, and once during my Travels with Ace, I spent some time with Leonard Knight — an admittedly reclusive and obsessive sort who let nothing stop him in his quest to fashion a mountain where there was none. Knight died in 2014 at age 82.
Salvation Mountain pops up like a colorful hallucination in the otherwise bleak, almost lunar, desert terrain around Niland, California.
MadLyn went there in July with her director/father and a cinematographer to film a video for her song “Will You Take Me Home” and she did all the things that people do in music videos — prance, skip, sing, twirl, look pensive, wear multiple outfits and toss her curly locks about.
In one scene, MadLyn was to stand in front of the mountain and hold her little dog as a camera-equipped drone zoomed in on them and passed overhead.
Lucy didn’t like that. She jumped out of MadLyn’s arms and took off.
Lucy had gone all day with no leash (she was playing the role of a stray), but when the drone approached for a close-up she “starts freaking out and jumps out of my arms and runs out into the desert,” MadLyn recounted.
As the sun went down, MadLyn, her father and the cinematographer searched for hours, on foot and by car, enlisting the help of Slab City’s other denizens, but Lucy could not be found and was not responding to their calls.
Because the cinematographer needed to get back to his family, they drove back to Los Angeles, a three and a half hour trip.
The next day, a Saturday, MadLyn called animal shelters located near Niland, printed up flyers, checked with the company Lucy’s microchip is registered with and sent out pleas on Facebook.
Then she and her father headed back to Niland to search some more for Lucy.
Sadly, and a bit ironicallly, what had happened in real life was exactly the opposite of what director Fred Fuster had in mind for the video.
While the song’s lyrics seemingly pertain to man-woman love, Fuster (being a father) envisioned a different, more innocent, interpretation of his daughter’s song.
“As director I insisted on having that story line — where this woman who has a hard time finding love meets this dog at Salvation Mountain and I guess falls in love,” he said.
But instead of finding a dog, Madlyn, in real life, lost one.
She later took her mother’s name, Madlyn, to honor her.
She has been active in raising money to fight breast cancer. Last year, she released the song, “I Call Her Mom,” with 100 percent of all digital sales going to the National Breast Cancer Foundation (NBCF).
No strangers to loss and dealing with dark times, Fuster and his daughter pulled into Salvation Mountain after nightfall to look for Lucy and seek out people who might have seen her.
They went a gathering spot in Slab City called The Range, where an open mic night was being held, and showed Lucy’s picture around.
One man told Fuster that it was unlikely a small dog like Lucy — given all the hawks and coyotes in the area — was still alive after 24 hours.
That’s when Fuster sat down and began to pray.
When he opened his eyes and looked down, there was Lucy.
After a tearful reunion, Fuster and MadLyn put Lucy in the car and gave her some water. The 18-pound dog drank 24 ounces, MadLyn says.
MadLyn, as you can see in the video at the end of this post, clearly considers what happened a miracle.
“Lucy was missing in the desert of Salvation Mountain for 24 hours completely by herself, and through the grace of God alone, she came back,” she wrote in an email to ohmidog!
She says the video is “dedicated to all shelter and foster animals looking for a loving home.”
I have a feeling Leonard Knight would like this story.
I know I do.
Posted by John Woestendiek September 20th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, california, dedication, dog, dogs, faith, filming, fred fuster, god, leonard knight, lost, lucy, madlyn, miracle, miracle dog, music, music video, niland, pets, rescue, salvation mountain, shelter, singer, songwriter, will you take me home
The well had been left open by crews fixing a water line in a yard in Calvert County, and Sam stepped into it.
The 11-year-old dog fell about 40 feet before hitting water.
The home’s owner dropped a ladder down the well, allowing Sam to wedge himself between the side of the well and the ladder.
The Prince Frederick Volunteer Fire Department responded to the call Tuesday evening, setting set up a rope system to lower a rescuer, according to the Washington Post,
Sam, who firefighters estimated spent about 30 minutes in the well, was checked out by a veterinarian Wednesday.
“Very rarely do we get calls like this,” said Deputy Fire Chief Jason Sharpe.
He called Sam “very, very lucky … It could have been worse.”
(Photos: Prince Frederick County Volunteer Fire Department)
Posted by John Woestendiek August 25th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animal, blind, calvert county, cocker spaniel, deaf, dog, dogs, fall, fell, fire department, maryland, pets, rescue, sam, well
A woman and her dog were pulled from their car Saturday, seconds after it disappeared under rising floodwaters in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
The car was about two-thirds submerged when some men on a boat pulled up, with video camera rolling.
She can be heard asking for help as the convertible sinks beneath the water.
“Oh my God, I’m drowning,” she says.
The men tried first to break a window as the Miata sank, then managed to pierce the convertible top and rip it open enough to pull the woman out just after the car submerged, according to the video that aired on WAFB
Immediately upon surfacing, the woman told the man who pulled her out to get her dog.
“Get my dog. Get my dog. Get my (expletive) dog.”
When he hesitated, she dove under the water.
“I’ll go down,” the woman said before diving and bobbing quickly back up, empty handed.
“I can’t get your dog,” the man in the water says after reaching under the water and into the car several times.
As he dives under one more time, one of the men on the boat says, “Maybe she’s gone.”
“No, she better not be,” says the woman.
Just then, the man in the water pops back up, with the dog in his arms.
“I got your dog.”
All three swam to the safety of the boat.
KHOU reported that the boat was being used to give a reporter a tour of the areas affected by the flooding, and that it was shot by WAFB reporter Robbie Reynold.
The man who jumped into the water and pulled the woman and dog from the car was identified as David Phung.
Posted by John Woestendiek August 15th, 2016 under Muttsblog, videos.
Tags: animals, baton rouge, boat, car, convertible, david phung, disaster, dog, dogs, drowning, flooding, floodwater, louisiana, pets, rescue, saved, storms, weather
Nearly 50 deaf dogs evacuated from a shelter threatened by a raging wildfire north of Los Angeles have gotten a warm welcome at a state prison.
The owners of Deaf Dog Rescue of America decided to evacuate the animals from their Santa Clarita kennel Sunday night as the Sand fire started moving closer to the property.
“We knew if we had an issue in the middle of the night, we would be here alone with 45 dogs to load up,” Lisa Tipton posted on the rescue’s Facebook page.
Deaf Dog Rescue takes in deaf dogs from across the country, trains them and places them in new homes. It also provides assistance to new deaf dog owners who need training advice.
The rescue was debating where it might take the dogs when the state prison in Lancaster — where Lisa’s husband, Mark, operates a dog training program called Karma Rescue — offered all 50 of them shelter.
“We arrived to find the man-cages ready for the dogs,” Lisa Tipton said, with “food, water, beds, and igloos.”
The hospitality didn’t end there, NBC 4 in Los Angeles reported.
“The inmates had handled breakfast beautifully. They were getting the dogs out for exercise and cleaning their runs…
“I have never, ever seen anyone clean up dog poop with such glee.”
Even the dogs that aren’t always comfortable around strangers were coping well, Lisa Tipton added.
“To see incarcerated men of all races working so beautifully together to help others is a really amazing experience,” she said. “If they had turned us away, with 97 degree [heat], we would’ve had dead dogs in the trailer.”
She said the dogs will probably remain in the prison through the end of the week as efforts to contain the fire continue.
(Photos: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 28th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, california, deaf, deaf dogs, deaf dogs rescue of america, dogs, evacuate, evacuation, evacuees, fire, inmates, lancaster, pets, prison, prisoners, prisons, rescue, sand fire, shelter, state prison, wildfire
The wife of a Philadelphia police officer is proving that police dogs don’t have to be expensive European imports.
Carol Skaziak, after seeing too many dogs languishing in shelters, started an organization called Throw Away Dogs.
Established two years ago and based outside Philadelphia, the program rescues neglected shelter dogs and works to rehabilitate and train them for police work like narcotics detection and patrolling.
Since beginning her work, nine out of 12 dogs she has rescued have been placed with police departments across the country.
“I pour my heart and soul into it and all I ask for these departments is to just give my dogs a chance,” she told NBC News.
Unlike most police dogs, who commonly are expensive purebreds purchased from Europe, these home-grown mutts are donated to departments in need.
Assisting her in the effort are K-9 handlers from area police departments.
The program puts the dogs through a three-month training period, and while not all will earn spots on police forces, Skaziak says all dogs that go through the program find a home — something they didn’t have before.
“I will follow through with every dog from start to finish. Not all dogs will make it through K-9 school and I am OK with that outcome. I will then find a perfect loving family for that dog that will love and treat them like part of their family. It’s just a different kind of badge they will be wearing,” she notes on the organization’s website.
While she doesn’t believe every dog can be trained to be a police dog, there are many in shelters who have the high play drive it takes for the job.
After a graduation ceremony this year, two “throwaway” dogs were placed with the Roanoke Police Department, and a third with the police department in Roanoke, Va.
Skaziak, who is married to a Philadelphia police traffic officer, came up with the idea for Throw Away Dogs in 2013, while doing public relations work for a shelter in Philadelphia.
“I was upset about it, because people were throwing these dogs away like trash,” Skaziak told the Roanoke Times.
(Photos: Officer Bill Tars and Throw Away Dog Kayos in Roanoke, by Heather Rosseau / The Roanoke Times)
Posted by John Woestendiek July 18th, 2016 under Muttsblog.
Tags: animals, carol skaziak, dog, dogs, europe, imported, K-9, law enforcement, officers, pets, philadelphia, police, police dogs, rescue, roanoke, rocky mount, shelter, Throw Away Dogs, training, virginia