Ek With Puppymill Rescues In Korea

Commitment in Action: Our Annual Visit to Korea

Each year, Free Korean Dogs dedicates 2 to 3 months in Korea, a crucial period for connecting with our rescue dogs and advancing our rescue efforts. This spring, we spent 1.5 months in Korea, focusing on both our dogs and our ongoing initiatives.

Free Korean Dogs in Korea

Currently, Free Korean Dogs has about 100 dogs under our care in Korea. Some of these dogs were rescued from the Dangjin dog meat farm shutdown in 2018, others from the Siheung dog meat farm shutdown in 2022, and some from high-kill shelters. Unfortunately, many of these dogs are traumatized and fearful of humans, making adoption a challenge for them.

To help these dogs overcome their trauma and prepare for adoption, we have enrolled ten of them in a rotating training program. This process can take from six months to a few years. While not all dogs fully open up, we see positive outcomes. For example, Dolsae and Juliet, who were untouchable when rescued, completed their training after one year and moved to Toronto. They now live wonderful lives with their adoptive families in Canada. Three of the ten dogs in training will soon complete their socialization and leash training, join the boarding house, and be ready for adoption.

Lifelong Commitment to Our Rescues

Dosa dogs are one of the most common breeds raised for meat in Korea, second only to Jindos. These dogs are larger and bred specifically for meat, often leading to severe trauma and fear of humans. Their size also makes it challenging to transport them to Canada or the US due to flight weight limits. Our last Dosa rescue, Doci, came to Canada in November, having to lose 2 kg to meet flight requirements. After five years of training, she finally graduated, traveled to Canada, and found a loving forever home in Toronto.

Rescue work doesn’t end with saving a dog. Caring for them afterward is often more challenging. While some dogs are socialized and healthy enough for adoption, many are too traumatized or have complex health issues. True rescue work means embracing all dogs, regardless of their conditions. The dogs from the Dangjin dog meat farm are now 8 to 10 years old, with some suffering from cancer. Considering their lifespan of 10-12 years, they are quite old. It would have been wonderful if they could have been adopted and lived new lives in Canada or the US, but that hasn’t been the case for most. We tell them that we are their forever family and that they will never be abandoned. While their lives may not be luxurious, we will care for them until the very end because they are our family.

Our Ongoing Rescue Efforts

Even though Korea has passed a special law to ban the dog meat trade and consumption by 2027, many dogs still desperately need help. The situation has worsened as dog meat farm owners try to maximize their profits before the ban takes effect, focusing on breeding dogs to negotiate better compensation from the government.

During our time in Korea, we collaborated with colleagues to rescue 17 dogs from an illegal puppy mill in Namyangju and 21 Dosa dogs from a dog meat farm in Anseong. Thankfully, most of these dogs are friendly and suitable for adoption. They have undergone thorough vet checkups, necessary surgeries, and heartworm treatments. As a result, the majority of these rescues are now healthy and happy. Those who meet our adoption criteria are ready to find their forever homes, with more dogs becoming available for adoption soon.

Reflections and Gratitude

Visiting Korea and spending time with our rescue dogs brings a mix of emotions: the joy of seeing their progress and the sorrow of seeing some still fearful despite years of care. The overwhelming number of dogs in need is a constant reminder of the importance of our work. There have been moments when we’ve wanted to walk away, but the saying “Those who endure till the end are the ones who truly care” keeps us going. Once you’re involved in rescue work, turning your back on those who need help isn’t an option.

We feel lucky and thankful to be connected with like-minded people: our dedicated colleagues in Korea and our supporters and adopters in Canada and the US. Together, we can take another step forward.

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