Hey, Free Korean Dogs family! We all know how wonderful our dogs are and how much they bring to our lives, but have you ever considered sharing your dog’s beautiful personality with others who could really benefit from the experience? Free Korean Dogs (FKD) is exploring the therapy dog program with St. John’s Ambulance. This program arranges for approved therapy dogs to visit seniors homes, libraries, and other facilities where the presence of a dog can bring comfort, joy and a reduction in anxiety.
Two years ago, the founder of Free Korean Dogs, EK Park, was visiting her home town of Dangjin, South Korea when her GPS took her on a strange route. While lost, she drove along an unfamiliar, rural road and came across a solitary farm. Her heart sank. EK has rescued over 600 dogs from Korea, so she could tell she had stumbled upon an illegal dog meat operation.
Free Korean Dogs at Woofstock Event 2018
This is the third and final article in a three part series on our strategy to help dogs in Korea. The first article outlined our public awareness program, while the second covered our community outreach strategy. The focus of this article is our plan to implement an international adoption program for dogs rescued from Korean dog meat farms.
Public awareness and community outreach are critical for changing perspectives and speaking out with one voice. But let’s face it: all the talk, likes and re-tweets in the world won’t free those dogs suffering right now. It takes action! We need an effective strategy to get boots on the ground and provide immediate relief. There’s no app for that.
The Adoption Challenge
Of the three pillars in our overall strategy, this is perhaps the most complex, as it has the most moving parts and requires the greatest amount of planning and collaboration. The good news is that we are far from the first to implement an adoption program in Korea, so we’re looking forward to learning from our devoted colleagues already in action. We’ve built some great connections within the Korean animal welfare community, along with our well established relationships with animal welfare advocates in Canada.
So let’s get into the details. The objective of this strategy is to get as many dogs as possible out of the dog meat industry and into the loving arms of adoptive homes around the world.
Why can’t these dogs be adopted within Korea? The popularity of dogs as companion animals has increased significantly in Korea, particularly among younger generations. However, the general preference is toward smaller breeds. The large breeds preferred by the dog meat trade, such as the Korean Jindo, are not as popular among dog lovers. As a result, it boils down to a dichotomy in how many Koreans perceive dogs: some breeds make good pets and others make good soup. It’s ironic that the dogs many Koreans shun as pets are exactly the kind of dog that many Westerners love as pets.
The Under-Paw Railroad
As I said earlier, this plan has a lot of moving parts. Let’s walk through it step by step. First up, we need to cultivate strong ties with the Korean animal rescue community. This is already well underway. We also need to establish effective communication with dog meat farmers, which is a bit more tricky to say the least.
We respect everyone’s right to earn a healthy livelihood, but we encourage doing so without harming innocent lives in the process. We also believe that all beings have compassion in their hearts and we can all make positive change in the world. With that in mind, we propose working with farmers to explore alternatives to dog meat farming.
Through the generosity of our supporters, we will establish a fund that will enable us to provide financial incentives and supports to ease the transition from dog meat farming to viable alternatives. This is not an original concept and there are others achieving great results.
Needless to say, this aspect of the strategy needs careful planning. We must be careful not to replace one cruel trade with another. If we, for example, set up a scenario where dogs are purchased from dog farmers, we could end up replacing the dog meat trade with an equally cruel and unethical dog adoption trade. Not exactly what we have in mind. We must ensure, therefore, that each dog rescued isn’t simply creating a space for another dog to suffer. This requires careful diplomacy, planning and collaboration with dog meat farmers.
The End of the Adoption Rainbow
At the other end of the spectrum, we need to establish an effective means of connecting rescued dogs with loving foster and adoptive homes.
As with the volunteer community in Korea, a significant volunteer community is required at the receiving end as well. We need to establish a network of ambassadors in major cities around the world to ensure that adopted dogs arrive safely into the arms of their foster and adoptive families. This will involve coordination with foster homes, adoptive families, the airline and us back at FKD HQ.
Recently we have partnered with the Gin Oak Shelter in Korea to provide on the ground support for dogs rescued from the Korean dog meat trade. You can take a look at the dogs available for adoption at the Gin Oak Shelter.
We are also reaching out to animal shelters to explore the possibility of facilitating mass rescue and adoption campaigns. Here’s the scenario: we negotiate an agreement with a dog meat farmer to convert over to farming vegetables and need to quickly re-home the dogs currently on the farm. What do we do with all those dogs? If we have agreements in place with animal shelters outside Korea, we could use their larger capacity to provide temporary shelter and adoption services.
Permanent Change is Pawssible
With over two million dogs slaughtered each year in Korea, it is easy to get discouraged. How can rescuing a few dogs here and there add up to anything more than a drop in the bucket? This is where the power of community comes into play. To borrow from a recent speech by US President Obama on the legalization of gay marriage, this program hinges on the ability of ordinary people to achieve extraordinary things.
The power of this plan is in its ability to scale. Within two days of launching this website, we received our first adoption inquiry from a lovely family outside of Toronto. Once the funding, infrastructure and ambassadors are in place, there’s nothing to stop us from growing this out enough to put a serious dent in the dog meat trade.
Imagine building a community strong enough to negotiate the closure, one-by-one, of every dog meat farm in Korea. Now imagine your role in making it happen. Here’s what you can do to help:
- If you’re able, please make a donation.
- If you would like to adopt a Korean rescue dog, subscribe to our newsletter so we can send you an update.
- Adopt a dog.
- If you are already involved in Korean dog rescue and would like to collaborate, contact us.
- If you are involved with a dog shelter that would be able to host Korean rescue dogs, again, give us a shout.
- If you know someone who might be interested in helping out, share this article.
What is your view on this plan? How can we make it better? As mentioned above, this strategy has lots of moving parts and hinges on massive community engagement. Share your advice, insights and experiences in the comments below and let’s get this thing moving.
This is the second article in a three part series outlining our strategy to help dogs in Korea. While the first article described our program to raise public awareness, this article focuses on our community outreach strategy. The series ends with our strategy to establish an international adoption program for animals rescued from dog meat farms.
We are a small organization with a big dream: end dog meat consumption and improve the lives of dogs in Korea. As luck would have it, we have lots of friends with the same dream. But for real change to happen, we’re going to have to collaborate effectively and speak with one voice. That’s going to require some serious communication.
Lines of Communication
Any effort to mobilize a global community requires simple and effective communication. Lucky for us, we gots the interwebs. (I can’t imagine trying to pull this off twenty years ago.)
You’re looking at our primary means of communication. We’ll be publishing regular articles in the blog and will be paying close attention to your comments. This is where I hope much of the advice, planning and debate will occur. With that in mind, this is an evolving strategy, so please feel free to speak up in the comments below.
The best way to stay current as things develop is to subscribe to our newsletter, which summarizes the latest news, articles and events. We will never share your email address and promise not to spam you with a barrage of donation requests.
You can also connect with the community on your favourite social media networks, so follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube. Social media will be a particularly essential organizing tool while we shoot the documentary. We’ll be updating the social channels with our own activities, but will also be sharing the work of our amazing colleagues, along with news and events related to Korean dogs. In general, this is an awesome way to stay and involved as events unfold.
If you’d like to get directly in touch with us, you can always hit the contact page to send us an email message and find our mailing address and phone number.
Engage Your Community
If you are as passionate as we are about helping dogs in Korea, please join our community and get involved. To summarize, here’s five ways to engage:
- Leave a comment on this or any other blog article
- Subscribe to the newsletter
- Follow us on Facebook, Twitter and YouTube
- Stay tuned for upcoming Hangouts on Air
- Contact us via email, phone or snail mail
We’re serious about collaboration. There are a number of groups and individuals working in many capacities on the same issues. We’re excited to collaborate with our colleagues towards the shared goal of helping Korea’s dogs find a better life. But we’re new to this arena, so we’re open to all advice and look forward to building lasting relationships.
Did we miss something? Do you have additional ideas on how to cultivate a stronger and more effective community? We would love to hear from you, so share your thoughts in the comments below. The road may be long, but the journey is better when we walk together.