The inspiring stories that resulted from dog meat farmers changing their businesses have caught the attention of media outlets and audiences all over the world. By shining a spotlight on these farms and telling the happy-ending stories of the rescued dogs thriving in loving adopted families, we also changed hearts and minds.
In the government’s roadmap to end the dog meat industry in South Korea, there is a state-supported transition strategy for dog farmers, traders, slaughterers and restaurants, similar to our Models for Change program. I am so honored that our progressive concept has influenced the course of history in South Korea. We are now working to ensure that the bill progresses through the National Assembly as we expect it to and results in the passing of a robust law that puts the welfare of dogs front and center.
A paradigm shift across Asia
We expect that such a huge breakthrough in South Korea will have major positive impacts on our campaigns to end the dog and cat meat trades throughout Asia. For years, we have been working alongside local partner groups in many nations, and 2023 was an amazing year for continuing to build that momentum.
In China, with our local partner group Vshine and the ever-growing network of animal protection groups working nationwide, we have seen incredible progress. This year we set up a tip-line for members of the public to report illegal dog and cat meat trading activities. These tips are taken to the authorities, and as a direct result slaughterhouses and restaurants shut down, and illegal trucks crammed with hundreds of dogs intercepted. Jingshui, a district of 1.8 million people, reaffirmed policies against illegal dog meat sales, a government action achieved after efforts by our partner group activists. In Bengbu and Zhengzhou, two major campaign cities, 14 restaurants removed dog meat from their menus and committed to staying dog-meat-free. Part of our China operation includes a public information campaign, which has produced 24 videos on the need for ending the country’s dog and cat meat sales. Through our Vshine partners, we have supported the rescue of thousands of dogs and cats from the trade and have welcomed commitments from more local authorities to tackle illegal trading operations.
This year, in Viet Nam, our Models for Change program (which we launched in the country in 2022) permanently closed and transitioned two more dog and cat slaughterhouses to become animal-free businesses. Over the course of their operations, these facilities had slaughtered tens of thousands of dogs and cats. Our rescue teams saved more than 60 dogs and cats during the closures, who will go on to live the lives we dream of for all dogs and cats in loving homes. We also have official agreements in place in two target provinces to tackle the trades holistically through collaborative activities that bring public awareness campaigns together with street animal spay-neuter and rabies vaccination initiatives, with the support of law enforcement. This concept, which can be replicated nationwide, can help expand support among the public for ending dog and cat meat trades. Nearly 70% of the population is already in support of a ban.
Achieving the impossible
As a founding member of the Dog Meat Free Indonesia coalition, our support successfully ensured that 13 more cities and regencies passed directives and laws banning the dog and cat meat trades in Indonesia in 2023. We secured our first ban in the capital region of Jakarta, bringing the total to 36 jurisdictions in Indonesia that have banned the trades, sparing tens of thousands of dogs and cats from suffering each month. We have also worked with the authorities and law enforcement to intercept and prosecute dog thieves, and slaughterhouse owners, saving and rehoming more victims of the trade.
One of our most significant victories in Indonesia this year took place at one of the country’s dog and cat meat eating “hotspots.” The Tomohon Extreme Market was the country’s most infamous market, a brutal place where dogs and cats were publicly sold, slaughtered and butchered. Together with our local partner group, Animal Friends Manado Indonesia, we lobbied for change for years, even though we kept being told that “in Tomohon, it’s impossible.” But we never gave up.