The Truth about Dog Farming in Asia
Dogs VS. Chickens
You could reason that eating dog is equivalent to eating chicken. So why are we so concerned about dog farming and dog meat?
The fact is, dogs and cats are companion animals and this has been wired into many of our brains. Our pets are family. We pay to treat their diseases and enrich their lives by spoiling them with toys and love. Although many of us can look at a chicken, pig, or cow and reason that they will be slaughtered for consumption, we simply cannot look at our household pets and imagine them on our plate.
This is also why people are even more outraged when it comes to cruelty in the dog meat trade. If a chicken is boiled alive due to an error in the slaughterhouse, it’s a statistic most people ignore because they have no emotional connection to the animal. But most of us have looked into the eyes of a dog or cat and told them we love them. Perhaps you have had one pet that changed your life forever. No one could ever replace that animal because you shared such a special bond. To abuse and torture these animals is unfathomable to most of us. Sadly, this is the reality of dogs in Asia.
Neglected, abused, beaten, hung, burned, skinned and boiled alive. This is the reality of the dog meat trade. The methods differ from country to country, some arguable more barbaric than others, but cruelty the core of this industry.
Keep reading to hear about what is being done to save these animals, and what you can do to help.
My Introduction to the Dog Meat Trade
Image from Animal Hope & Wellness Website
Ignorance is bliss. The more you learn about the horrors of the meat and dairy industry, the more animal suffering consumes your thoughts. A year and a half ago, I couldn’t bring myself to watch undercover “humane” slaughter videos of cows, pigs, and chickens. Then I came across the Animal Hope & Wellness Instagram page. I was in for a rude awakening.
If you’re an animal rights activist, you’ve heard about Marc Ching, Founder of Animal Hope & Wellness. He travels to China multiple times a year to shut down dog meat slaughter houses, save animals, and educate the public and political leaders to promote change that will improve animal rights. Watching his undercover slaughterhouse footage is not easy, but bearing witness is the least we can do for these animals. Some people believe that torturing dogs before slaughter will improve “health” benefits (male fertility and performance), and as such, beating, strangulation, burning, and boiling alive are some of the barbaric methods used in dog meat slaughterhouses. Marc’s videos are one of the main reasons I am passionate about spreading awareness about the dog meat trade. Marc and his team save as many animals as they can, but public awareness and political action need to occur to accelerate the process.
When Marc announced on Instagram that he and other animal activists would be speaking at a fundraising event entitled “Rescuing the Dogs of Asia!” on November 4, 2017, I was intrigued. I wanted to learn about the organizations working to put an end to this cruelty, and what I could do help. I wanted the facts, and I didn’t want them sugarcoated.
Four Pillars Productions is an organization that focuses on hosting fundraising and educational conferences to support global animal not for profit and charity organizations. Their “themed” events represent the four animal pillars: domestic, farm, wildlife, and marine/sea. Four Pillars was created with the vision of protecting animals in need by promoting global awareness to help end animal suffering. Below is an excerpt from the press release:
Supporting animal welfare is the goal of Four Pillars Productions
On Saturday, November 4, 2017, from 12:30pm to 7:30pm at the Toronto Botanical Gardens, Four Pillars hosted Rescuing the Dogs of Asia!, an event designed to shed light on the neglect and often-torturous conditions that dogs living in China, Thailand, Cambodia, Vietnam, and North and South Korea endure at the hands of humans.
“It’s important for us to raise the public’s consciousness of the relationship that people have with animals on a global scale, and that the animals under our care should be treated humanely and responsibly. We want to play a part in ending suffering and cruelty.”
Co-Founder and Producer of Rescuing the Dogs of Asia!
Lisa Turney is the Co-Founder and Promoter of Rescuing the Dogs of Asia! She is passionate about animals and her second act in life is dedicated to creating awareness through educating the public as well as fundraising through Four Pillars Productions. She recruited 8 inspirational speakers, and you can find them all featured below. All of the speakers shared unique stories with a common vision – putting an end to animal cruelty and dog farming in Asia.
Lisa’s effort in bringing these speakers together with members of the public created a strong sense of community, and reminded us that we each play an important role in creating the change we wish to see in the dog meat trade. I managed to take a few notes during the event which I’ve shared throughout this post. I encourage you to look into the organizations featured and attend the event next year!
Campaign Manager, Humane Society International (HSI)/Canada
Andrew gave us the stats. 3,000,000 dogs a year are slaughtered in South Korea, and approximately 17000 dog farms are currently operating in the country. These animals are farmed like chickens in factory farms. They live in crates stacked on top of one another, with wire floors and no solid supports for standing or sleeping. They have painfully swollen feet and pressure sores. Dog meat fighting is common. Andrew spoke to one farmer about Florence, a deformed dog that lived on a farm HSI recently shut down. He was told Florence was a breeding dog and her puppies were used for dog fighting.
When animals are sent to slaughter, they are often thrown around, jammed into crates stacked on top of each other, and transported long distances without food or water. During a mission where HSI stopped a transport van carrying dogs headed for slaughter, a police officer that assisted them threw up from the smell of dogs in the van. Andrew told us that the lucky ones die in transport. The others are typically electrocuted through the mouth in a slaughterhouse. It can take take up to 20 minutes for them to die. Strangulation or beating are less common methods but still used in remote areas.
Most Korean’s don’t eat dog meat. Those that do often believe that meat dogs are “different.” In reality, you can find every type of dog on these farms. Mastiffs and chihuahuas alike were seen in Andrew’s videos and images from his missions to South Korea. Gaesoju, a medical tonic commonly used by the older demographic, accounts for approximately 3% of the dogs slaughtered annually. It has no proven health benefits.
There is a silver lining.
HSI not only works to shut down dog meat farms, but they help farmers find other trades that do not involve animal farming or exploitation. When asked if they would leave the dog meat trade if they thought there was an alternative, 80% of South Korean farmers said they would leave the industry. There is no shortage of farmers lining up to work with HSI.
HSI is continually working to shut down dog meat farms in South Korea. Follow them on Facebook or Instagram, or contact them for adoption and volunteer opportunities.
Producers of the Award Winning Documentary – Korean Dog Meat Exposé
Kevin Lahey and James Hyams shared the information they’ve gather through the making of their documentary entitled Korean Dog Meat Exposé, which was shot on a smart phone. Kevin went undercover for 18 months to acquire footage from dog meat farms. One of the major differences between China and Korea he touched on was that while dogs in China are often stolen, dogs in Korea are typically farmed and some councils have been known to subsidize equipment used on these farms.
They showed a clip of their documentary, which focused on one farmer who fed his dogs ground food waste from nearby restaurants. He showed dogs dying, barely able to move, and the farmer injecting them with something that “might kill them or save their life,” which was presumable some high dose antibiotic. At one point in the video, the farmer was asked why a dead puppy was on a piece of equipment. The farmer picked up the puppy and threw it into the ground food mix. The dogs shown from this particular farm were extremely ill and malnourished – or already dead.
Kevin and James are in the process of submitting the film to competitions, and they are open to use it for political action. They also mentioned CARE, an organization which aims to rescue, rehabilitate, and re-home animals in Korea while campaigning against the dog meat trade.
For more information on this documentary please contact Kevin Lahey at email@example.com.
Founder of Charity "Victory for Animals"
Shelley Craig’s presentation focused on volunteer efforts to bring back dogs from Asia back to Canada. Victory for Animals is a registered charity whose profits go to the rescue, adoption, and shelter centre in Brighton, Ontario Canada. You can find a list of animals to adopt here. Shelley also gave an amazing tribute to Gill Dalley, founder of Soi Dog Foundation. Shelley shared many opportunities for all of us to help, including flight/shelter volunteering for the Soi Dog Foundation and donating to Empathy for Life (a no-kill shelter in South Korea). She ended with an inspirational message, saying that sharing knowledge about animal cruelty is a tough task, but it is worth it when you see change and compassion in others.
Animal Rights Lawyer and Executive Director of Animal Justice
I have been following Camille and Animal Justice on Instagram for a while, and I was very excited to hear her speak at this event. As an animal rights lawyer, I knew Camille would give attendees practical information to help improve laws protecting animals in Canada and abroad. She started by saying that we don’t all need to be animal rights lawyers to inspire change. The truth is, everyone can play a role in molding the politics of their region, province, and country.
Often, when I talk about animal rights and farming, people say Canada is the gold standard for animal care. The truth is, we still have a long way to go in terms of animal rights. In the context of this event, Camille discussed how it is currently legal in Canada to sell and produce dog meat. It is also legal to produce items with dog fur and import dog fur.
Camille encouraged us to contact our local MPs and party leaders in advance of elections, to ask them what they’re plans are to improve animal welfare in the region. She talked about Nathaniel (Nate) Erskine-Smith, who is the Member of Parliament for Beaches-East York and just happens to be vegan. He introduced Bill-C246, which was an animal protection bill seeking to make modest changes in Canada’s animal protection laws: labeling fur products and banning the sale of cat and dog fur, banning the importation of shark fins, and redefining existing criminal acts against animals(including updating the definition of bestiality, prohibiting training and breeding of dogs for fighting, and making it easier to persecute animal neglect, abuse, and brutal killing). The bill was defeated after its second reading – even Canada has a long way to go in terms of updating its laws to protect animals.
Nathaniel says it’s not only the criminal code that needs to be reviewed. Think animal transportation, puppy mills, cosmetic testing, and cetacean captivity. Your opinion and ideas can inspire political change. Submit ideas to change Canada’s animal protection laws here and consider contacting your MP and party representatives during the next election in your area.
Please also consider supporting Animal Justice!
Owner of Quinte Canine
Yvonne is a Certified Professional Dog Trainer – Knowledge & Skills Assessed, Certified Trick Dog Instructor, Public Speaker, Educator & Owner of Quinte Canine. She knows her stuff, and her talk focused on dog training and behavior. If you have a rescue dog and know little about their history, it is especially important to contact a professional if you are concerned about your dog’s behavior and training progress.
Yvonne emphasized that the only professionals you should contact in these situations are Veterinary Behaviorists or Certified Professional Dog Trainers (Knowledge & Skills Assessed). These professionals have certified degrees for assessing and training dogs. Yvonne was very friendly and encouraged questions through phone (613-242-5050) or e-mail (firstname.lastname@example.org).
Marc Ching, the event’s keynote speaker, focused on his experiences with dog meat trade in China, which is extremely barbaric. His emotional delivery showed how much suffering he has witnessed, and the daily burden it has on his mind and body. Marc shared some horrible memories, but he also shared the progress that has been made, including the opening of a shelter in China run by Suki Su, leader of Animal Hope & Wellness China. A local school will visit the shelter monthly, which is part of an education initiative.
Animal Hope & Wellness also hopes to pass bill H.R. 1406 in the United States. This bill was introduced in 2017, and its purpose is “to amend the animal welfare act to prohibit the slaughter of dogs and cats for human consumption. If passed, this bill will prohibit any person to knowingly ship, transport, move, deliver, receive, possess, purchase, sell or donate dog or cat parts for human consumption.” According to their website, it is still legal to slaughter dogs and cats for human consumption in 44 US States. Source: Animal Hope & Wellness website.
Approximately 80% of dogs transported to Yulin for the Yulin Dog Meat Festival are stolen. The China Microchip Canine Initiative by Animal Hope & Wellness aims to identify stolen dogs, reunite them with their families, arrest those involved in the transport, and collect information for the Chinese government to inspire political action.
This event was very eye-opening and educational. In addition to the inspiring talks, there was also a great performance by singer Paris Black. Co-hosts Lisa Langlois and Sugith Varughese managed to elevate the moods of everyone in the room between talks, and vegan food was served from Wonder!and provided by Jana Lewis, specialty vegan dishes from The VeganAbler provided by Kelly Kerr, and Mac and Cheese balls donated by Kensington Market’s Cosmic Treats. Bamboo plates, cups, and other biodegradable products were kindly provided by Jennifer Wright, owner of Green Shift™, and acted as a reminder to think about the environmental impact of choices we make every day. A silent auction took place throughout the day, and booths from Humane Society International/Canada, Animal Justice, Animal Hope & Wellness, and Victory for Animals were set up outside the main event area. All attendees received gifts from supporters LUSH and Ren’s Pets Depot. Classical 96.3FM & AM740 Zoomerradio were proud sponsors of the event.
It was a hard day and many tears were shed by those who attended. I went to the event alone, but made some new friends throughout the day – some of whom inspired me just as much as the featured speakers. I spoke with an Animal Justice employee with aspirations of becoming an animal rights lawyer, sat next to an animal sanctuary founder working on opening her second animal sanctuary, and shared an Uber with a young activist raising public awareness through social media (all women, I might add). By attending this event, I joined the movement of animal activists fighting the dog meat trade. There is no better feeling.
At the end of the event we participated in a candlelight vigil to honour all the dogs that have died and will die because of this horrible trade. I truly believe this industry will be put to rest in my lifetime. If we all take a little time to be active animal advocates, we will see change!
Thank you so much for reading this post. I hope you will consider supporting these organizations by donating, volunteering, or attending this event next year. Please comment with your favourite animal rescue stories below – I love reading them!
Lastly, I would like to thank Lisa Turney for the pictures that are featured throughout this post. Follow @fourpillarsproductions on Instagram and Facebook for event updates. Or you can email Lisa directly at email@example.com to be placed on their mailing list.
Thank you for helping the animals!
About the author: Laura has an engineering degree from the University of Waterloo and is currently a PhD graduate student at the University of Toronto. She also has a blog called Cruelty-Free PhD where she documents her journey to living a cruelty-free lifestyle through lifestyle and animal activism posts.