(File) A dog with ear injuries is shown locked in a cage at a dog meat farm in South Korea Nov 21, 2016. Pic: Woohae Cho/AP
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 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 death by electrocution and death by 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 is 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 is increasingly falling out of favour with the younger generation as many now reject dog meat.
However during Boknal days, the three hottest days of the summer between July and August, 70-80 percent of dog meat is eaten in South Korea, mainly as a peppery soup called bosintang that is 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 said.
“HSI is keen to dispel the widespread misconception that 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.
Actor Daniel Henney poses with Clint, a dog rescued from a dog meat farm in South Korea in 2015 as part of a campaign to treat all dogs with compassion. Source: HSI
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, originally from South Korea.
“Mango is from Korea and I only speak Korean with her and 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 in my personal opinion every dog out there in Korea is my Mango and they deserve to live a life like she has, 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 has permanently closed down eight dog farms where dogs are 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 to end the cruel dog meat trade. 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.”
She added “Daniel is helping us spread that message of compassion to change hearts and minds.”