Dog Adoption & The Korean Meat Market

Just a little over a week ago we welcomed a new member into our family. Hubby has been mentioning getting another dog for quite some time, both for us and as a companion to Cooper. Cooper has been incredibly lonely since Leo passed away this summer. He spends the day running along the fence line anxiously wanting to play with our neighbor’s dogs. We felt it was time to get him a friend, and thus the adoption process began.

Buying versus Adopting

I grew up in a family that rescued and adopted animals. Almost every pet was found on the street (with no success in locating the owner), dropped off in our yard, or adopted from someone looking to re-home. Over the years we had 6 cats, 7 dogs, and a menagerie of ducks, geese, reptiles, and rodents. Those are just the pets we kept. We rescued and found loving homes for multiple others. Below are a few of the animals we rescued over the years.

When it came time to look for another dog, we played with the idea of purchasing a Goldendoodle. We desperately needed a non-shedding dog since Cooper drops hair unlike anything I’ve ever seen. You can literally pull large chunks of fur off of him at any given time. Because of the girls, we also wanted to minimize the risk of adopting a potentially nippy or aggressive animal. Although we had a successful adoption with Cooper, both Hubby and I are still a bit gun-shy with adoption because of our experience with Leo. While Leo was a great dog in many ways, he had to stay separated from the kids at all times. He was an adoption gone wrong and though we loved him, we couldn’t risk bringing another aggressive dog into our home.

However, after a few weeks of browsing available puppies for sale, we ultimately circled back on adoption. With over 6.5 million animals going into shelters every year, and 1.5 million of those euthanized, I just couldn’t justify purchasing a dog when we could adopt and save a life. I turned to Petfinder and Adopt a Pet (both excellent resources for available animals), browsing dogs periodically when it crossed my mind.

And then it happened…

One Thursday afternoon, while watching TV, I pulled up Petfinder and Adopt a Pet and began browsing. After just a few minutes, I came across the sweetest little dog. Her name was Hana and she was listed as a Goldendoodle mix by the rescue agency, Aberdeen Scottish Terrier Rescue (ASTR). Hubby was at work, but I went ahead and submitted an application anyway. Dogs like Hana tend to get a lot of interest, and I wanted our family in the running sooner rather than later. When Hubby got home I showed him Hana’s picture and write-up, and he was equally as smitten. We weren’t sure if we would hear anything back, but to our surprise, we had a response later that evening!

The Process

From there, things moved pretty quickly. The next day, ASTR called our references and finished vetting our application. On Saturday, Hana’s foster parents came to our house for the home visit. They wanted to ensure that our yard was fully fenced, with no gaps or holes, and that everything we listed on our application was true (it was). We had a chance to chat with them for a bit and found out more information about Hana and her history. Saturday evening, we received an email from ASTR with formal approval of Hana’s adoption. They wanted to do the meet and greet the next day, Sunday afternoon. As long as that went well, we would be taking Hana home!

The next day we loaded the kids and Cooper into the car. Everyone was so excited to meet this sweet girl! The meet and greet couldn’t have gone better. The girls were excellent with her – gentle, calm, and in love. Cooper immediately took to his role as big brother. Hana was very timid, so we knew she would take a while to settle in, but we also knew that she would be worth the wait.

Lily (left) and Cooper (right) on the day we brought Lily home with us.

Meet Lily!

Upon bringing Hana home, Baby Girl started calling her Lily and the name stuck. We have no idea where she got the idea for the name Lily, but Baby Girl was insistent that it was her name. Amazingly, Lily started responding to her new name almost immediately. She is the sweetest dog and even when she has been frightened, she has not nipped or growled at any of us. Though she is still quite timid, we are seeing improvements every day. She is around 30 pounds and about half Cooper’s height. Cooper never felt like a big dog until we brought Lily home – now he seems huge!

Lily has a “safe zone” where she can go to get away from the kids and relax. Her bed, food, and water are all in this area. (Please disregard the power cords – our power was out for a few days after a windstorm and we had to hook a bunch of appliances up to the generator).

The first few days after we brought Lily home, she didn’t want to go out in the yard. Hubby would have to walk her on a leash, which she did relatively well with. After a few days, she was running out the door right alongside Cooper, but she wouldn’t come back in. Hubby had to go outside every time and herd her back in. Finally, a few days ago, she started coming in on her own! These improvements, though small, are still amazing progress for a dog with such a rough beginning. We get excited over each and every one of them!

Lily’s “Aha” Moment

I joke that every adopted dog has an “aha” moment – the moment they realize that they are with their forever family. You can witness an actual change in their demeanor, and it is the most heartwarming thing to see. Cooper had his about a week after we adopted him, and Lily wasn’t far behind. Yesterday when I came home from running errands, Lily had her “aha” moment. She ran up to greet me in a way she never has before. All evening she stayed right by my side and kept nuzzling my hand for attention. She even wagged her tail for the first time! A little over a week after her adoption, Lily has decided to adopt me as well. Being able to witness this change makes adoption so worthwhile!

Lily relaxing in the living room beside the fire. It’s her favorite place in our house.

Lily’s History

Lily’s hesitation to trust us is completely justified considering her history. Prior to her rescue, she lived in Korea in a high-kill animal shelter. The vet determined that she is only between one and two years old, but that she has already carried a litter or two of pups. She has no uterus, most likely removed due to a pregnancy complication or in an attempt to spay her. It is likely that Lily was a puppy producer on a meat farm before being moved to the shelter. In addition to her missing uterus, she also has luxated patella, which means her kneecap frequently dislocates from its normal anatomical position in the groove of the thigh bone. This will most likely require surgery in the future.

Korean Meat Markets

In Korea, shelter dogs are often euthanized or sold to the meat market. In fact, it is estimated that between 2 million and 10 million dogs* are slaughtered every single year for meat consumption. Korea has around 17,000 known dog meat farms. Housing consists of small, cramped cages, with direct exposure to the elements and very little food. Many of the dogs suffer from malnutrition, disease, and are subjected to intentional cruelty and neglect on a daily basis. Electrocution is the primary method of slaughter, making their last moments both painful and terrifying. Dogs are also hanged, beaten, burnt and boiled to death. This is done in full view of all the other dogs.

*Because the importation and exportation of dog meat occurs between multiple Asian countries, estimates vary. However, it is estimated that upwards of 20 million dogs are slaughtered across all of Asia every year.

Some of these meat dogs end up in shelters like the one Lily was rescued from (these high-kill shelters are different from the rescue shelters). The capacity of these shelters is often exceeded by hundreds of dogs. This means the dogs live in cramped, unhealthy, and inhumane areas until they are euthanized (the majority) or rescued (the lucky few).

There is an excellent video on the dog meat market available at SBS Dateline. I highly encourage everyone to watch it but be warned there are a few scenes that are graphic and difficult to watch. It is about 25 minutes long, but worth every minute.

A Happy Ending

Unlike many of Korea’s dogs, Lily’s story has a happy ending. ASTR rescued her from sure death, and we were fortunate enough to have the opportunity to adopt her. With us, she will get to grow up alongside two animal-loving little girls, spend her days running around the yard with Cooper, and snuggle up with me whenever she is willing. As I write this, she is laying on the rug next to me, enjoying the heat of the fire. After all that she has endured, she deserves all the happiness and love that we can offer. And, I have no doubt that in return, Lily will provide us with more happiness and love than we could ever imagine.

Learn More

The below websites are great resources for those interested in learning more or wanting to help:A

How to Help

  • Foster a pet. Shelters are often overrun with animals and fostering helps relieve some of that overcrowding. It is also a more stable environment than a shelter. Foster parents get to know the dog better, allowing a better match to be made and therefore improving the chances of a successful adoption.
  • Adopt a pet. There are so many loving dogs in need of a good home! Saving a life and earning that love is one of the most rewarding feelings. There are plenty of rescues for purebred dogs as well if you are wanting a specific breed. A simple Google search can help you locate a rescue near you. Or, use sites like Petfinder or Adopt a Pet.
  • Donate. Rescue organizations can always use more funds and supplies to aid their mission. They appreciate monetary donations so that funds can be allocated where needed. Supplies are also always in high demand, from dog food, to beds, to leashes, and everything in between! Most rescue websites will list their most needed items.
  • Volunteer. Volunteer at a rescue organization near you. Most organizations are non-profit and consist solely of volunteers who are providing their time free of charge. Rescues rely on animal-loving people like you!
  • Sign up to be a flight volunteer. If you will be traveling, consider signing up to be a flight volunteer. The rescue organizations cover the logistics and expenses, and place the dogs in a foster home upon arrival.
  • Spread the word. Knowledge is power. Share what you know with others. Most people don’t know about the animal abuse that goes on in other countries (I didn’t know nearly as much before adopting Lily!). Encourage people looking for a new pet to consider adoption.
  • For other ways to help here in the US, the ASPCA is a great resource: https://www.aspca.org/take-action

If you have questions on how you can help, don’t hesitate to reach out! I am happy to answer any questions!

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