Safe at last. The moment Robin the dog meat pup arrives in the UK (Image: HSI UK)
The fortunate dogs of all shapes and sizes arrived with a flurry of wagging tails to feel the welcoming arms of delighted animal rescuers. Soon, all nine dogs will be living as contented pets – a far cry from the hellish future they faced being butchered and served up as food only a few months ago. Luckily, the dogs are the beneficiaries of a campaign by leading animal welfare charity Humane Society International UK and growing enlightenment about eating dogs in the Far East.
Uplifting images released today show the moment the dogs came through the reception centre at Heathrow Airport after their airlift from South Korea to be met by the welcoming committee from HSI UK.
It is the latest stage of an epic journey that will eventually see the animals finding new homes.
The rescued dogs are a variety of breeds, some well-known to British pet lovers, others have a Far East bloodline.
Sandie the Labrador, Olive and Indie the golden retrievers, spaniel mixes Dermot, Luna and Millie, terrier Tessa, Nara, a Jindo shepherd mix, and Robin, the Maltese cross, were part of a 200 dog haul rescued by HSI after working with the Korean farmer who had decided to shut down his meat operation. The other rescued dogs have gone to a rescue centre in Canada.
With eating dog meat becoming increasingly unpopular in Korea, many farmers who raise the animals in miserable conditions are looking for new trades such as growing mushrooms.
Traditionally, dogs are killed and blended into a soup called “bosintang” during the height of summer in the unsubstantiated belief it improves stamina and virility.
Adorable dog Robin rescued by HSI's Wendy Higgins in South Korea. (Image: HSUS)
Safe at last. Robin the rescue dog in the arms of HSI's Wendy Higgins at Heathrow (Image: HSI UK)
HSI has now shutdown 13 Korean dog meat farms and rescued 1,600 animals, yet an estimated 2.5 million are still being reared on thousands of farms across the country.
Wendy Higgins from the HSI UK was at Heathrow Airport to meet the dogs as they arrived to scenes of joy, a far cry from the last time she had seen them in grim conditions at the Korean farm two months ago.
She explained today: “When we found these poor dogs on our latest dog farm closure, they were in a terrible state, confined in filthy, barren cages, with nothing but wire mesh to stand on.
“Right next to their cages we found the electrocution equipment used to kill the dogs in front of each other, and a pile of collars on the floor. Yet, despite being so badly treated, they were desperate for affection.
“It’s lovely to think that they could be settled in their forever homes before Christmas, getting the love and comfort they have missed out on.”
Hellish scene that greeted HSI dog rescuers at meat farm in Korea. (Image: HSUS)
Forlorn dogs looking out from behind the wire of grim dog meat cages (Image: HSUS)
The dogs are currently being looked after at the All Dogs Matter rehoming centre.
Authorities have been curbing the trade by shutting down slaughterhouses, the sight of dogs destined to be killed for the table becoming pets will hopefully become the norm, particularly in their home country.
Ms Higgins added: “Most South Koreans don’t actually eat dog meat, and increasingly the Korean authorities are taking action to curb the trade.
“Just a few weeks ago the country’s largest dog slaughterhouse was bulldozed to the ground, and there is a real sense of momentum behind efforts to consign dog meat eating to the history books.”
Welcome to the UK... HSI rescuers welcome dogs from South Korea (Image: HSI UK)
The dog meat farmer who handed over the nine dogs that arrived in the UK explained why he called time on the business he launched 14 years ago.
Known only as Mr Lee, the 71 year old farmer, who is now taking up medicinal herb growing, said: “When I first started this farm I had heard that the dog meat industry was booming and I thought it would be a safe retirement plan, but the fact is eating dog meat has been on the decline ever since, and these days so few people want to eat dog that I’m actually losing money.
“I’ve wanted to stop dog farming for a while but I didn’t know how to make it happen until a former dog farmer told me about HSI’s work in turning dog farms into new businesses.
"I think there will be a lot of interest from other dog farmers wanting to quit, too, because it’s not just about saving the dogs, but about helping us farmers, and I appreciate that.”
https://alldogsmatter.co.uk/rehoming-questionnaire-form/ . All Dogs Matter prefer to place dogs around London/south-east so that they are readily able to follow up with and support new owners, so priority will be given to people able to offer suitable homes in this area.