Row upon row of cages were filled with barking Labs, retrievers, shepherds and mixes—all eager to greet the Humane Society International rescuers who had just arrived at a dog meat farm in South Korea last October. As research student Myles Wallingford moved around the property, he saw the heartbreaking conditions the 200-plus dogs were living in—and then he saw Sofia, a black and white bull terrier with soulful brown eyes and an adorable underbite.

Her back legs were deformed and the wire bottom of her cage made it painful for her to stand, but she seemed determined to meet Wallingford.

THEN: Sofia’s goofy grin, batlike ears and kinked tail (likely from a poorly healed injury) were just a few of the characteristics that captured her adopter’s heart.
Myles Wallingford
NOW: After traveling from South Korea to Canada for necessary medical care, the sweet pup is now sitting pretty in her new home in Colorado.
Myles Wallingford

“She looked at me and with all the positive enthusiasm she could muster, jumped as high as she could in my direction, hitting the cage door time after time.” Wallingford says. “Despite the stress and fear she was feeling, she would not stop kissing my hand or take her eyes off me.”

Wallingford knew he would be traveling for the next few months and believed Sofia deserved a home quickly, so he reluctantly said goodbye before she flew to a placement partner in Montreal. When he was back home in Denver six months later, however, he still couldn’t get her off his mind. He called SPCA Rousillon, where Sofia and several other dogs went to get ready for adoption, and was stunned to learn she was still available.

Number of dogs rescued from meat farms and transported to the U.S., Canada and the U.K. for adoption.

After a few surgeries to repair her legs, Sofia is living the good life in the Colorado mountains, surrounded by open land, hiking trails, rivers and wildlife. She spends a chunk of her day sitting by the fence and watching deer graze nearby, and she loves naps, squeaky toys and cuddling up with her family.

“Any time of the day, even if it is just after waking up, Sofia is 100% onboard to take a nap anywhere, anytime, anyhow,” Wallingford says. “She’ll snuggle up to you and begin snoring. If Snuggler of the Century were an award show, she would win.”

People are usually sad or angry to learn Sofia is a survivor of the dog meat trade, but Wallingford says he tries to educate them about the issue and inspire them to support HSI and other groups fighting for change.  

“For her, there is little reason to be sad,” he says. “She is arguably the most spoiled dog in Colorado. Her story is a positive one, and we should take encouragement from it. Any sadness or anger that is felt should be channeled into making sure other dogs are never subjected to what she was.”


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All Animals Fall 2020 magazine cover showing Adam Parascandola and dog