One of the most miraculous things about animals is their extraordinary ability to heal and love. It is something we witness time and again in our work, especially with the dogs we rescue from South Korean dog meat farms.

Last month, I told you about the latest group of 170 survivors from the 17th dog meat farm Humane Society International closed. The animals were flown into the United States and some have since been transported to Canada.

Soon, the dogs here in the United States will move on to our shelter partners in Ohio, Pennsylvania, Delaware, New York, Maryland and Virginia where they will be available for adoption. We are confident each one of them, like the more than 2,200 dogs we have rescued and transported so far from Korea, will make someone an amazing pet.

For now, these dogs are enjoying their transition to a peaceful and loving life at our temporary shelter, which was constructed in an empty hangar in Maryland (watch the amazing time-lapse video of the construction). Some are still healing from the trauma of their past, but most show an innate and instinctive urge to love and be loved.

Lou Lou, a playful four-month-old pup, was adopted by HSI Senior Vice President Anna Frostic, and went straight from her long flight to playing in the park.
Photo by Anna Frostic/HSI

To create a sense of safety and normalcy for the dogs, staff and volunteers at the shelters stick with a routine and daily schedule that includes walks, play time and bathroom breaks. After lunch is quiet time, when they listen to classical music, like Beethoven’s “Moonlight Sonata.” The dogs have received all the medical exams and treatments they need and staff has been evaluating their behavior as well to make sure we make good matches with the shelter partners who will receive them next week.

Podcast: Listen to Kelly O’Meara, vice president of companion animals and engagement at HSI, discuss the latest efforts in the dog meat campaign

At the Canadian emergency shelter, our HSI staff there tells me, each dog has an individual room with a window, and they get really curious about what is going on outside. Many spend hours sleeping peacefully in the sunlight filtering in. Canada will next week receive 25 more dogs who are now here in the United States.

Some of the dogs have already moved on to their loving homes, easily winning the hearts of those they come in contact with. There’s Bolt, a long-haired German Shepherd with a hip problem, who was among the dogs on the transport to Canada. Mark Watson, the contract driver of the truck, fell head over heels in love with her, and adopted here, renaming her Suki.

Animal Rescue Team member Mark Watson with Suki, whom he adopted.
Photo by Meredith Lee/The HSUS

Willium, a small mixed breed brown and black dog who Mark transported to Canada, was adopted by a veterinarian who approached us after seeing a picture. Although Willium is still a little fearful and shy, she has experience with fearful dogs and is ready to work with him and get him out of his shell.

Lou Lou, a playful four-month-old pup, was adopted by HSI Senior Vice President Anna Frostic, and is settling in great. Anna tells me that Lou Lou, short for Saeloun, which means “new” in Korean, went straight from her long flight to playing in the park.

This is indeed the start of a new life for these dogs, as far as can be from the dog meat farm where they lived on chains or in raised wire cages, with no shelter from the extreme weather and never knowing a kind human touch. Many of these dogs, when our team found them, were in terrible need of medical attention. Some had eye infections or broken bones that had healed poorly without treatment and others were dangerously underweight.

At the end of this life of misery, the dogs would have met a terrible death, usually by bludgeoning or electrocution.

We couldn't be prouder or happier for the role we have played in helping move these dogs out of that life of horror and trauma and into one filled with love and hope. But even as we celebrate their freedom, we cannot, for a moment, forget that millions of dogs just as wonderful and loving are still trapped on thousands of farms, just like the 17 we have closed. Ending this trade is a long and arduous road, but we are making progress every day, by raising awareness about the trade and by helping close down dog meat markets and even the largest dog slaughterhouse in the country. We will continue this work, more determined than ever, until no animal has to endure the misery of life on a dog meat farm.