Not long ago, I learned about a horrific practice in Asian countries involving millions of dogs and cats who are tortured or bludgeoned to death each year for food.  Although some countries have laws protecting dogs and cats from abuse, governments blatantly disregard those laws and continue to allow the mistreatment, torture and murder of innocent beings.  In spite of a 1991 law in S. Korea, which prohibits consumption of dogs and cats, there still exists a flourishing industry within the markets.

Illegal dog farms are hidden away in country sides where breeders raise stock for butchers.  Dogs are kept in unimaginably squalid conditions and intensely confined in filthy cages where they cannot move.  Their cages are stacked atop one another as they sit in piles of feces, uncared for, going without food, water, medical care. . .or love.  Many of these animals were a family pet at one time (an estimated 30% were stolen from families who love them); others are homeless victims.  When the animals are ready to be shipped to the markets, their cages are stacked onto trucks; upon arrival at their destination, workers crudely drop the cages onto the ground, oftentimes crushing and breaking the fragile bones of those animals at the bottom.

The animals are purposefully tortured to death as it is believed that the more the dog suffers, the more male virility will increase when the meat is eaten.  Before dogs are killed for meat, they are often strung up by their legs and beaten.  Eyewitnesses have reported seeing dogs being literally torn apart while still alive, screaming in pain, as they are forced to endure a prolonged death.  Others are tied to fences, rendering them helpless, as they are being beaten mercilessly.

Cats fare no better, as they are considered pests.  They are often placed into sacks and beaten against the ground.  Sometimes, they are thrown into large pots of boiling water while still alive and cooked until liquefied.

Getting lost in one of S. Korea’s large downtown markets, one might see the head of a dog with its legs stuffed in its mouth, skinned limbs, carcasses browned by a torch, chopped up meat; and crates containing frightened and injured animals everywhere.  There is a law that dictates dogs must not be butchered in sight of another dog.  However, most dog markets ignore this law and torture, kill and butcher dogs in plain sight of one another, instigating even more fear for those awaiting their turn.

Currently, an estimated 6,500 stores deal in this horrific trade, despite that most Koreans don’t eat dog meat.  Koreans have only eaten dogs when poverty was widespread during World War II.  Even then, dogs were considered companion animals and treated well.  Unfortunately, greedy, unscrupulous traders have been propagating the myth that canine consumption increases sexual prowess in males and cat juice cures rheumatism.  This industry has organized itself and bribes government officials and police to look the other way.  They have persuaded newspapers to extol the “virtues” of dog meat and have hired thugs to intimidate animal welfare advocates who are campaigning to end this brutal illegal activity.

One animal welfare group, In Defense of Animals, has been working diligently on this issue to draw international attention to the plight of helpless dogs and cats in S. Korea. They hold an annual campaign, with dozens of cities around the world hosting outreach events and educating their communities about this important issue.  Outside Korean embassies and consulates around the world, compassionate activists pass out leaflets and display signs, drawing the world’s attention to the dogs of Korea.

IDA’s S. Korean partners, Coexistence for Animal Rights on Earth (CARE) have had their activists pay a visit to a facility that was brought to their attention.  After viewing the conditions, the activists felt they could not leave the innocent animals behind and rescued them at the risk of arrest and possible personal injury.  CARE filed a civil complaint against the facility and the owner agreed to demolish the buildings.  With IDA’s support, CARE planned to bring criminal charges against dog butchers for violating Korea’s animal cruelty laws and is acquiring video footage to help further expose the animal cruelty and encourage punishment of wrongdoers.  This would hopefully be a strong deterrent for other dog meat markets.

If you have been appalled and horrified enough to feel compelled to act, please contact In Defense of Animals and help support their efforts in this campaign. There are many things you can do including spreading the word, handing out literature, signing petitions, contacting embassies and consulates, or providing financial support to IDA.

Imagine how you feel about your own beloved dog or cat; and remember that those innocent creatures who are suffering through fear, miserable conditions, torture and agonizing deaths might have been someone else’s family member at one time.  No living being deserves such deplorable and inhumane treatment.

– Annoula Wylderich