Three dogs rescued from South Korean meat trade find chance for new life in South Elgin
Scared and shivering, Saturn, a tan, 2-year-old Korean Jindo, reluctantly peeked his furry head out of his travel crate Friday toward a larger, more inviting enclosure at Anderson Humane.
Even after a 12-hour truck ride, he wouldn't immediately come out, not yet realizing the promising turn his fate had taken.
Two weeks ago, he arrived in the United States with 33 other dogs after being rescued from a South Korean dog meat farm. Saturn and two others from that group, Jupiter and Harper, were delivered to the South Elgin shelter Friday afternoon by the Humane Society of the United States.
Dean Daubert, Anderson Humane's chief operations officer, said it was the first time they've taken in dogs from the Korean meat trade.
"These guys are pulled from some pretty poor conditions because there are very few animal welfare laws in Korea," he said. "The government tends to overlook the meat trade because it's a little embarrassing for them."
The Humane Society estimates 1 million dogs a year are killed for meat in South Korea. They're intensively bred on farms, living in squalid conditions, with many suffering from malnutrition and skin and eye diseases. Most are slaughtered at around 1 year old, usually by electrocution.
The Humane Society reached out to Anderson about the Korean dogs on the heels of the shelter's recent work taking in 166 beagles rescued over the summer from a Virginia breeding facility by the society.
"We'll help them whenever we can," Daubert said. "They're doing some great work on a national and international scale. But we also want to make sure that we are servicing our community and our existing partners."
The Humane Society also delivered a pit bull from a shelter in Florida that was overcrowded with dogs displaced by Hurricane Ian.
The dogs don't have permanent or foster homes lined up yet. Molly Craig, Anderson's intake and transfer manager, said that because of the unique circumstances from which the dogs came, they want to assess them and get to know their personalities first.
"We don't know for sure the lives they had, but they're obviously going to be scared after transport," she said. "It's a traumatic event for them."
She anticipates the dogs will spend about a month at the shelter before they're ready to be fostered or adopted. While animals are normally vaccinated and microchipped as soon as they come in, these dogs will get the weekend to decompress before being checked out.
Once they are available for adoption, they will be listed at ahconnects.org/adopt.
The Humane Society International/Korea has permanently closed 17 dog meat farms and rescued more than 2,500 dogs who have found homes in the United States, Canada, the United Kingdom and South Korea.
An opinion survey by Nielsen Korea published and commissioned by HSI/Korea in October showed that 85% of Koreans say they have never eaten dog meat or will not do so in the future. 56% of Koreans surveyed said they support a dog meat ban.
Daubert said he was happy Anderson Humane could help give the dogs a second chance at life.
"We have bred them for 10,000 years to have that dog-and-person relationship," he said. "When we turn that into something else, that's a violation of the pact that we've made with dogs to depend on us for survival.
"By bringing them in and giving them a home now, we're paying that obligation and giving them a chance at a good life."