Many of us are guilty of joking about it. But we may be forgiven, since our friends know that to make light of something abhorrent is sometimes the only way to emotionally process it. “My dog destroyed another chair, that little chewer. I’m giving him to the Chinese restaurant.” Such a joking comment is surely ignorant, and may be construed as a little racist by the hypervigilant. But the seed of it, whether one finds it worthy of a chuckle or a note-to-self to hang-out with that friend a little less, is rooted in an important cultural difference. One that dog lovers hate.
But get this. Those same dog lovers are doing something about it. The country in question is actually South Korea, where, despite sharply falling demand for dog meat, there are still some 17,000 farms in operation.
Enter the Humane Society International. These are the warriors of the dog-fan world. They fly overseas, discover both purebreds and mixed breeds in dark, dank dungeons, barely kept alive and literally unable to walk around even when released because they’ve always been in a cage and never learned how. These fine folks transport the pooches to US soil and rehabilitate them physically and socially until they literally learn for the first time how to be dogs. The organization has rescued over 800 meat-farm dogs from seven farms in South Korea since 2015. What happens to the dog farm owners? The HSI actually gets them started with training and support to enter other lines of business. Heart swelling yet?
The local angle is that Westbrook’s Animal Refuge League of Greater Portland has been working hard in recent months to bring some of these South Korean puppies into some kind of canine life, from the time the dogs stand at the back of the truck that brought them and wonder how to walk down the ramp, to successful integration into multi-dog adopter’s families (meat-farm dogs often need a canine ‘mentor’). The ARLGP last month celebrated the first anniversary of their five-dog program, reporting in their blog (at https://arlgp.wordpress.com/) that the success rate with their South Korean dogs, albeit at different stages of completion for each pup, is one hundred percent. No joke.
So rest easy. Maine has its own champions for the canine cause, and nobody’s going to hell for bad jokes. And did we see one of The Don’s aides at a pet store down the road from Camp David, saying he was ‘checking things out on a friend’s behalf’? Hmm!