SEOUL: More than 200 dogs were rescued from a farm in South Korea, the fifth such farm that has closed down since the launch of a project early this year.
The owner Gong In-young, who has run the farm for about 10 years, said he agreed to hand over all his dogs over to Humane Society International (HSI), and close the farm down for good.
“I agreed to this because I saw that the dogs were given homes in the US,” said Gong.
The dogs in Gong's farm, one of thousands across the country, were bred specifically for consumption and confined in their cages from birth until slaughtered for their meat.
All the dogs saved from the farm are sent to the United States by the HSI for adoption. The organisation works with dog meat farmers in South Korea to help them transition into another way of making a living. Farm owners are usually given cash and a business plan to go into a different kind of business.
In return, the owners sign a contract promising not to return to the dog industry.
According to Gong, he is unsure what he wants to do next with the farm but is looking into the possibility of planting mushrooms or blueberries.
“I started this dog farm because business was good,” he said. “If I had a choice, I would have done something else.”
He added: “I would say my farm with slightly more than 200 dogs is of medium-size. There are some that have thousands of dogs."
He added that business was not as good as it used to be, when more people in the country ate dog meat.
'2 MILLION SLAUGHTERED'
The number of Koreans eating dog meat has gone down in recent years as more people have been adopting them as pets. Dog restaurants are also closing down, with reports saying the country’s 1,500 dog meat restaurants have almost halved in recent years.
A poll conducted by Gallup Korea last year showed that only 20 percent of men in their 20s consumed dog meat in the past year, compared to half of those in their 50s and 60s.
"In the past, people ate dogs because there was nothing else to eat but nowadays, young people don't have to eat it," Gong said. "It's becoming weird for people," he added.
Campaigners say that around 2 million dogs are slaughtered and consumed every year in South Korea, with about 17,000 dog farms across the country.