For some lucky dogs in South Korea, a miracle occurred this week. The San Diego Humane Society rescued twenty-one adult dogs and nine puppies from a dog meat farm there, in coordination with the Humane Society International. These very fortunate pups are receiving medical attention and will be placed in loving homes.

There are thousands of atrocious dog meat farms in South Korea. Canines are raised for consumption in small, filthy cages. They aren’t sheltered from inclement weather and denied water, exercise, medical care, and companionship. They can’t even step out of their prisons to walk on the ground. Often their eardrums are burst so they won’t bark.

An estimated 2.5 million dogs and thousands of cats are murdered and consumed each year in Korea. The dogs on farms are electrocuted, hung, beaten, boiled or burnt to death, or their throats are slashed. The other dogs witness these horrific slaughters and know that their fate will be the same.

Propaganda perpetuates the myths that the dogs’ suffering enhances the quality of the meat, and that eating it increases male virility and stamina. South Korea imports 20% of their dog meat from China. Tragically, stray dogs and stolen pets can also become victims of the industry. Any dog is in danger of being consumed: show dogs, shelter dogs, and puppy mill dogs.

This industry negatively impacts consumers’ health and the environment. The dogs are sick and pumped up with antibiotics and other medications. One-third of Korea’s waste is fed to the dogs on farms: rotting food waste infested with flies, maggots, rats, and infectious germs.

The dog meat industry’s existence is more due to high profits than old traditions. Dog meat is an unregulated and tax-free industry that is lucrative for many.

Younger people are less likely to eat Gaegogi (dogs), resulting in a decline in the industry. Domestic pets are on the rise, although some people consider certain dogs pets and others food.

Some individuals and organizations in Korea are working to abolish dog farms and eating dogs. A Korean organization called CARE, Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth, is educating people about the horrors of the world of dog meat and to end the practice of eating dogs.

American-based organization called Change For Animals Foundation is also devoted to rescuing dogs and closing down the dog meat industry. They initiated a national campaign with CARE and Animal Guardians in 2013 called “StopIt!” to educate people about the suffering of dogs on meat farms, and have produced a documentary called Boshintang (Dog Meat Soup). The film features heinous undercover footage. Another documentary, called Eating Happiness by Nami Kim, is part of the Seoul Anti-Dog Meat Campaign.

As the 2018 Olympics approach, activists are circulating petitions telling sponsors not to support the PyeongChang event. Hopefully the publicity surrounding boycotting the Olympics will increase awareness of the horrifying dog farms and pressure the government to shut them down.