Wednesday, December 1, 2010

An Update On Animal Welfare

I've written a nice happy post about an English camp I went on last week. While I struggle with getting the photos off my cell phone, I thought I'd update you on some of the issues I raised in my post about Jeonju Zoo.

There is an animal welfare movement in Korea, although it is really only getting started. When I told my co-teacher that the animals at the zoo were unhappy and mistreated she looked at me like I had mental problems. Anna's co-teacher, who is a lot younger, said she doesn't like the zoo because the animals look sad. So maybe there is some hope for the future.

It was also encouraging to find Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE Korea), an animal welfare organisation. They campaign for the ethical treatment of animals here, and seem to be having some success, although there is obviously still such a long way to go. Some of their stories are absolutely horrifying, but it is good to know that someone is speaking out against the culturally accepted animal cruelty in this country.

CARE are involved in a protest against the dog meat industry in Korea, happening in Seoul this weekend, which we will be attending. Everyone is welcome.

And before anyone screams "But you eat cowwwwwssssss!!!!!". . . Well, yes I do. But I don't torture them first. Dogs raised for food are kept in tiny cages and given barely enough food to survive. And not all dogs meat eaten in this country comes from "farms", many of the dogs are former pets.

But that's really only the start. Dog meat is eaten to promote something called "male power". To gain maximum "male power" from dog meat, the dogs need to have high levels of testosterone when they are killed. How to you raise their testosterone levels? With torture. I don't mean torture in the sense that factory farmed chickens and pigs are tortured, though of course they are. I mean strangling, beating, even electrocution. All designed to make the dog's death as slow and painful as possible.

I have read about this online, but I know it's real because I can hear it from my apartment. We live near a dog "farm", and we regularly hear dogs wailing in agony, often for hours at a time. Cows, quite simply, are not treated this way. Although some of them are raised inside in small pens, they are properly fed and killed as humanely as possible.

As for pigs and chickens, the way they are raised in the West (and here) is despicable. Well done New Zealand for banning sow crates, even if it is going to take five years. Dogs in Korea are suffering a much worse fate, without even the pathetic justification of profitability that the pork industry hides behind. Dogs in Korea are cruelly, sadistically, and unnecessarily tortured.

I do not think dogs should ever be food. But I could almost tolerate the practice if they were well looked after and humanely slaughtered. That is not what is happening. Dogs are suffering horribly throughout their whole lives and then being tortured to death. This cannot be excused as a cultural difference, as some Koreans would have you believe. And it is not a small problem, around two million dogs are killed and eaten in Korea every year.

There is a petition calling for an end to the dog meat industry in Korea. Please sign it. If you are able to make it to the protest in Seoul, please come.

My next post will be something much less horrifying, I promise.


  1. It was really small so we couldn't do a whole lot to help, but I had a chat to one of the organisers and I'm going to contact him about helping with other stuff in the future. They grabbed a lot of people's attention with songs and signs, and they seemed to be getting quite a few signatures for the petition.

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