(ANIMAL RESCUE/DOGS) While Olympic snowboarder Maddie Mastro rescued a dog named Jadu from a South Korean butcher’s block, Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy also made a significant impact for animals in South Korea.
Once again with the help of Humane Society International (HSI), Kenworthy and his boyfriend, actor Matthew Wilkas, rescued 90 dogs from a South Korean dog meat farm, which has since been shut down.
Most of the dogs are being flown to Canada where they’ll eventually be available for adoption, but one of the dogs (affectionately named Beemo) is going home to the U.S. to live with the Olympian himself.
Read below to learn more about Kenworthy’s “heart-wrenching” trip to one of South Korea’s 17,000 dog meat farms. — Global Animal
Simple Most, Jennifer Nied
The Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang were truly a time for the world’s athletes to shine. Their physical feats are incredible on their own merits, but some athletes went above and beyond by using their moment in the international spotlight to make a humanitarian statement.
Gus Kenworthy is definitely one of them. Not only did he compete in freestyle skiing for Team USA and proudly represented the LGBTQ community, but he made a difference off the slopes in South Korea as well.
Kenworthy shared in an Instagram post that he and his boyfriend, actor Matthew Wilkas, rescued 90 dogs from a South Korean dog meat farm. With help from the Humane Society International and cooperation of the farm owner, they permanently shut down the farm’s operations.
Man’s Best Friend
Humane Society International will help put the released pups up for adoption in U.S. and Canada, “where they’ll find their fur-ever homes.”
The Olympian explained that he wants to shed light on the inhumane conditions the dogs endure on the farms, like frigid winter temperatures and the scorching heat of summer without any protection. He also wants to “raise awareness to the inhumanity of the dog meat trade.” Indeed, Taiwan banned eating dog (and cat) meat last year over similar concerns.
Here’s Kenworthy’s post where he explained what he did:
This morning Matt and I had a heart-wrenching visit to one of the 17,000 dog farms here in South Korea. Across the country there are 2.5 million dogs being raised for food in some of the most disturbing conditions imaginable. Yes, there is an argument to be made that eating dogs is a part of Korean culture. And, while don't personally agree with it, I do agree that it's not my place to impose western ideals on the people here. The way these animals are being treated, however, is completely inhumane and culture should never be a scapegoat for cruelty. I was told that the dogs on this particular farm were kept in "good conditions" by comparison to other farms. The dogs here are malnourished and physically abused, crammed into tiny wire-floored pens, and exposed to the freezing winter elements and scorching summer conditions. When it comes time to put one down it is done so in front of the other dogs by means of electrocution sometimes taking up to 20 agonizing minutes. Despite the beliefs of some, these dogs are no different from the ones we call pets back home. Some of them were even pets at one time and were stolen or found and sold into the dog meat trade. Luckily, this particular farm (thanks to the hard work of the Humane Society International and the cooperation of a farmer who's seen the error of his ways) is being permanently shut down and all 90 of the dogs here will be brought to the US and Canada where they'll find their fur-ever homes. I adopted the sweet baby in the first pic (we named her Beemo) and she'll be coming to the US to live with me as soon as she's through with her vaccinations in a short couple of weeks. I cannot wait to give her the best life possible! There are still millions of dogs here in need of help though (like the Great Pyrenees in the 2nd pic who was truly the sweetest dog ever). I'm hoping to use this visit as an opportunity to raise awareness to the inhumanity of the dog meat trade and the plight of dogs everywhere, including back home in the US where millions of dogs are in need of loving homes! Go to @hsiglobal's page to see how you can help. #dogsarefriendsnotfood #adoptdontshop ❤️🐶
Kenworthy acknowledged in his post that eating dog meat is a part of Korean culture and he isn’t trying to impose his “Western ideals.” Dog meat does have a centuries-long history in the diets of South Korea and other countries of East Asia diets, according to National Geographic. As a result, farms like this exist throughout South Korea, and the Animal Welfare Institute reports two million dogs are killed annually for their meat.
Following Kenworthy’s Instagram post, journalist Joon Lee raised concern on Twitter about a “dying stereotype” of Koreans eating dogs and noted that chickens are raised and killed in far greater numbers:
As Lee noted, younger generations are, in fact, adopting the “dogs are friends, not food”view. As a result the popularity of canine cuisine is dropping. Nevertheless, the conversation has sparked a heated debate about humane treatment of all kinds of animals raised for meat.
The dogs freed from this farm will be up for adoption after they make the long journey from South Korea. The details of how and where you can adopt them are not available yet. In the meantime, you can donate to Humane Society International directly to help the organization continue fighting the dog meat industry.
In his post, Kenworthy shared that he and his partner already claimed one of the pups and named him Beemo. So he is leaving Pyeongchang with at least one furry souvenir — after Beemo gets his vaccinations, that is! — even though the skier didn’t win a medal.
Kenworthy may not have won gold this time around, but he proved he has a heart of gold when it comes to animals.
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