Olympic Athletes Save Pets From the South Korean Dog Meat Trade

Many of the millions of people watching the Winter Olympics this year may not know that South Korea is the only country in the world that breeds dogs –- about 2.5 million each year — specifically for human consumption, according to Humane Society International (HSI). There are thousands of farms across the country where dogs are raised in deplorable conditions and then brutally slaughtered for their meat.

One of these farms is not far from Pyeongchang. Six others are near Jeongseon, where downhill skiing events are taking place. There are 10 farms in Gangnueng, the city that’s hosting figure skating and hockey events.

Meagan Duhamel, a Canadian figure skater who’s going for the gold in Gangnueng, is well aware of the dog meat trade. When she and her skating partner, Eric Radford, were competing in South Korea last year, Duhamel adopted a now 2-year-old miniature dachshund mix named Moo-tae who had been destined for someone’s dinner plate.

This year, along with at least the one gold medal she’s already won, she plans to leave Pyeongchang with another rescued dog, and she hopes others will do the same.

When Moo-tae was just a puppy, he was rescued from a dog meat farm by Buddhists. He was found living in a monastery by EK Park, the founder of Free Korean Dogs, a nonprofit that helps people adopt rescued meat farm dogs and transport them to Northern America. Last year, Park took an 8-hour drive with Moo-tae to the venue where Duhamel was competing and introduced the two.

It didn’t take long for Moo-tae to crawl into Duhamel’s arms. “He loved to sit with the Buddhas during meditation and yoga,” Duhamel told the Associated Press. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, maybe this dog has some special spiritual energy.’ That was really why I chose him.”

Along with that spiritual energy, Moo-tae was blessed with a lot of good luck. According to Marc Ching, founder of the nonprofit Animal Hope and Wellness Foundation, dogs that aren’t as fortunate as Moo-tae are brutally killed, since it’s believed that adrenaline helps make their meat more tender.

“In Korea they usually put a noose around the dog’s neck and take them out back, hang them and beat them,” Ching told USA TODAY Sports. “Another method is they just smash their head open. Sometimes they do electrocution. They shock them and burn them or de-fur them. With electrocution many times they are still alive. It is terrible.”

The Korean government offered to pay local restaurant owners not to serve dog meat during the Olympics. Signs advertising dog meat were temporarily covered up or removed.

“Why this has to be tied to the Olympics is that the government itself is actually paying to hide this from the world,” Ching said. “Maybe if … they just said, ‘This is part of our culture,’ it would be different.”

During the Winter Olympics in Sochi four years ago, athletes helped raise awareness of the poisoning of thousands of street dogs by exterminators. Some, like snowboarder Gus Kenworthy, brought rescued dogs home with them. Kenworthy said he would love to bring home dogs from Pyeongchang as well. Like Duhamel, Kenworthy hopes to spread awareness of South Korea’s dog meat trade, which he called “pretty inhumane.”

Duhamel told USA TODAY Sports, “There are hundreds of dog meat farms tucked away and nobody is talking about this.”

Among the athletes not talking about it is U.S. ice dance skater Alex Shibutani. “Every country and every culture has different traditions and we are always respectful of those,” he told USA TODAY Sports. “I can’t speak too much because I’m just not familiar with their culture.”

Kudos to Duhamel and Kenworthy for refusing to stick their heads in the sand. Along with animal welfare groups working to save these dogs and shut down farms, hopefully these two will help encourage their fellow athletes as well as Olympics visitors to join them in these efforts.

The majority of people in South Korea don’t eat dog meat on a regular basis. It’s time for South Korea to join other countries that have ended this cruel trade. Please sign and share this Care2 petition urging Olympic sponsors to help put an end to South Korea’s dog meat trade.

Photo credit: meaganduhamel/Instagram


Cindy M. D
Cindy M. D5 hours ago

Don't you just love Meagan Duhamel??!! I'm grateful to her and all others who are rescuing dogs from such a horrible fate. Wish South Korea would never be able to host anything again.

Nicole Heindryckx

@ Alessio Genovesse : What is cultural heritage on raising dogs / cats by the thousands, to boil them ALIVE, and put it on your platter. In the mediaval time, it was cultural to chop off someone's hands if he had stolen things.... or their tongues were cut off when they had lied, etc... Also when people considered you were a devil, then you were burned... Do we still have to consider this as a historical cultural heritage, and do the same in the 21st century. Well in any case it wld be a solution for the prisons, who actually are lacking lots of places.... But barbarism has NOTHING to do with cultural heritage !! This is totally different !!!!!!!

Nicole Heindryckx

@ MARY Jane : You are totally correct. 99 % of the people try to dill all kind of insects and other small creatures by all means. I have always collected my insects in my home. With a transparent plastic cup and a piece of cardboard. Simply put the cup over the insect, slide the cardboard sheet under it, and bring all outside, where you can easily release them in your garden. Each animal is a creature of GOD, and can live with / next to us. They also have their own roll to play in the ecology. So what right do we have to smash hem under our shoes ?? NONE !!

Nicole Heindryckx

@ Maggie Davey : If this is correct, then Royal Canin should be boycotted in every pet shop and their products for dog & mat meat should stay in the shops. Of course commercially it is a win/win situation. A factory for dog / cat meat right next to a puppy / kitten mill. You sell the best pieces to restaurants and for human consumption in the supermarkets, and the rest you use to make pet food. HEAVENLY DISGUSTING !!

Nicole Heindryckx

@ Crissie S : OMG, So upset to read that in the U.S, in 44 states it is allowed to eat cat and dog meat as well. Unbelievable. I know that in W. Europe (and certainly all over the world) cats and dogs were caught from neighbors / rich farmers and the wealthy people by a lot of people who had nothing to put on the table for their kids. I remember by grandma telling me that they took all they could to have some proteins on the table. Rats, mice, all kind of small birds, etc.. In such circumstances, you can not blame people. It is a bloody difficult choice you have to make. Have a good soup of mice and rat meat, with bread and veggies from the garden (if you were lucky and the Germans did not pick everything from yr small garden) or see your children die from starvation.

Nicole Heindryckx

Is it good that this athlete adopted a dog, meant to be eaten, and took it home as a pet ? And most probably will do the same this year. Yes and No ! Many of her colleagues and other athletes will feel good when adopting such "meat-dog". Consequently, this trade will enlarge. Trillions of Dollars are spent for the organization of a 2-week int'l event, while a few miles away, thousands of people live in their tiny poor houses / flats and are now homeless, as was the case in Mexico. Under the cover of more tourism / big hotels, huge villas, etc.. to make the rich reven richer and the poor even poorer and homeless.
First clean before yr own door, and fight by all means all the cruelties that happen on a daily basis to chickens, cows, goats, sheep, rabbits, and a lot more, whose meat we put on our tables "en mass" each day instead of adopting a poor Korean Dog from a puppy mill. Recently I was really disgusted : I went to a 20 year marriage jubilee, of my son and the main course was steak. The girl only asked whether we wanted it red, medium or well cooked. When the platters arrived, I saw to my great disgust 3 huge pieces of approx 150 grams each on our platter. REALLY DISGUSTING. I'm NOT a vegetarian nor a vegan, but keep my consumption very low and, when possible, from local breeders. I left 2 portions on my my platter and my heart was crying !!

Mark Donner
Mark Donner3 days ago

Thomas D. Just shut up about "culture", let's have all the serial killers and terrorists in the world be excused by saying they were just following their "culture" Undoubtedly you would tell them it's a perfectly valid excuse and let them scurry off to behead more children. Anyone who smugly sits there and points their blood dripping fingers at other abuses in the world while sawing off the heads off children and boiling their dogs alive should be make to know that strategy wont work either. South Korea is a CRIMINAL nation because ATROCITIES are sanctioned by their government. These are not isolated incidents by psycho South Koreans. This is a crime sponsored by everyone who represents South Korea. Let's give South Korea another Hiroshima after rescuing the animals from their insane claws, maybe we can excuse it by calling it the "nuclear culture"

Thomas D
Thomas D.4 days ago

Seriously, if they are to only hold an Olympics in a country that doesn’t mistreat animals, they can’t hold it anywhere. This is exactly the same thing being done in the United States to cows and chickens. So we shouldn’t hold an Olympics or compete in it until we total ban meat comsumption? Some folks need to get a clue. We torture cows, they torture dogs. It’s a cultural difference, that for sure needs to change, but don’t throw stones as the saying goes, when you are participating in the slaughter.

Isa J
Isa J5 days ago

good lady

Vikki Drew
Vikki Drew5 days ago

I can't understand how Winter Olympics allowed to be held there; when in the background they hide the horror of dog meat. Good on the athletes who have rescued dogs & are raising awareness of this despicable cruelty, but I wont watch the Olympics knowing the evil that lurks behind them.