In a promising move for animal welfare, South Korean Democratic Party Assembly Member Jeoung-ae Han has introduced a legislative bill—called a Special Act—that, if passed, would end South Korea’s dog meat industry. Han’s bill, which is cosponsored by 11 other legislators, would outlaw the breeding and slaughter of dogs for human consumption, prohibiting dog meat farms, dog slaughterhouses and the sale of dog meat throughout South Korea. It also contains measures to support dog farmers in their transition to different businesses, which mirrors the structure of Humane Society International/Korea’s Models for Change program, which has been running successfully for nearly a decade.
Since 2015, HSI/Korea has rescued more than 2,700 dogs from dog meat farms and helped farmers transition to other livelihoods. Our team has also been working behind the scenes with Korean lawmakers to encourage a ban, and next month will hold a special event in the National Assembly in support of the bill.
If the law passes, after a phaseout period, the ban on the breeding and slaughter of dogs for human consumption would come into full effect in five years.
Despite the progress our team has made in shuttering dog meat farms, the industry is just too large to tackle farm by farm. An estimated 1 million dogs are still intensively bred on thousands of farms across the country, and the level of welfare on these farms is so heartbreakingly low.
I’ve been to these farms, and I will never forget seeing dogs being kept in small, barren, wire cages without enough food, water or shelter. I will never forget how they hopefully wagged their tails whenever anyone passed by. Desperate for love and attention, the dogs often spend their short lives suffering from skin and eye infections, diseases and untreated injuries and wounds from fighting due to boredom and frustration, before they are killed.
While this is a promising milestone in our campaign to bring about the end of dog meat farming, in a sense it’s also no surprise this day has come, given growing support among the people of South Korea for a ban on this cruel industry. Opinion surveys by Nielsen Korea show that 87.5% of the population doesn’t eat dog meat or won’t in the future, and 56% support a ban. While proposals to end dog meat farming have been introduced before, there has never been such political and public support and momentum on the issue.
We remain devoted to seeing this fight through to the very end.
Follow Kitty Block on Twitter @HSUSKittyBlock.