South Korea has shut down its biggest dog meat slaughterhouse
For years now, Korea's dog meat trade has been a subject of controversy around the world, especially amongst animal rights campaigners and advocates for the humane treatment of livestock. But, despite huge opposition to the practice, the slaughter of dogs for food still takes place on a vast scale.
This week marked a huge victory for those opposed to farming dogs for their meat, however, as Taepyeong - the largest dog slaughterhouse in South Korea - has been shut down by local authorities.
The Humane Society International (HSI) assisted in closing down the abattoir, which will be bulldozed imminently.
"Humane Society International/Korea dog meat campaigners on the scene report that conditions they saw inside the slaughterhouse were horrifying," says the HSI. "They found a large number of empty wire pens that would once have held hundreds of dogs, as well as the electrocution equipment used to kill them, knives, and a de-hairing maching. A pile of dead dogs was also found abandoned on the floor."
One of the campaigners, Nara Kim, spoke out about the emotion surrounding the closure of Taepyeong:
“Both as a Korean citizen and an animal campaigner, it was incredibly moving for me to a part of the historic closure of this notorious dog slaughterhouse.
"I shudder to think how many millions of beautiful dogs will have met their horrific fate at this place over the years. It was a stain on the city of Seongnam and we are so pleased to see it bulldozed.
"This really feels like a landmark moment in the demise of the dog meat industry in South Korea, and sends the clear message that the dog meat industry is increasingly unwelcome in Korean society."
This is obviously a huge step towards ending the dog meat trade, and is an indicator that attitudes towards using dogs for food are changing in South Korea.
Indeed, a survey conducted in June this year showed that seven out of 10 South Koreans vowed to abstain from consuming dog meat in the future, and an earlier court case in April saw one farmer receive a fine for killing his dogs for food. President Moon Jae-In’s Blue House also pledged earlier this year to consider removing dogs and cats from the legal definition of livestock, and laws have already been introduced to ban electrocution as a method of slaughter.
"As Korea’s biggest, brutal, illegal dog slaughterhouse, Taepyeong-dong is notorious for supplying huge amounts of dog bodies to nearby Seongnam Moran traditional market," said Hyunji Kim of Korea Animal Rights Advocates. "Its closure is an historical event, and hopefully may trigger the closure of other illegal dog slaughterhouses throughout the country."
On a larger scale, too, the changing attitudes towards eating dog meat has urged others to question how humane it is to consume any animal - especially those that have been killed using cruel or unusual methods. After all, as we consider eating dog meat to be a primitive practice in 2018, future generations will likely view our preference for cow or pig or bird meat in much the same light.