An estimated 2 million dogs a year are raised on farms in South Korea for human consumption. Kept in filthy, barren cages without access to food or water, the dogs receive no medical care — much less love or attention — until they are inhumanely killed, usually by electrocution or hanging.
Rescuing and removing dogs would not solve the problem; a complete solution needed to offer an alternative way for farmers to make a living. With that end goal, the Humane Society of the United States (HSUS) and its international rescue, Humane Society International (HSI), developed and launched an innovative program that works with farmers to surrender the animals and begin more humane, profitable livelihoods.
Baypath Humane Society of Hopkinton partnered with HSUS in 2021 to aid in this mission, and in July of last year, Baypath received its first rescues from the South Korean dog meat trade.
“When the dogs arrived, they were shy, timid and hesitant to approach the staff,” recalled Kathy Lundgren, an Outreach Committee member at Baypath. “We needed to allow them a decompression period to get used to the sights, smells and sounds in the shelter environment. Each dog is different, but it generally takes at least two weeks for them to begin to de-stress.
“We keep their world small. If they have doggy friends, we let them stay together; we use food puzzles and toys for enrichment, all positive reinforcement, and eventually we gain their trust. Then we start to introduce them to more people — staff and volunteers.”
After the dogs are comfortable with their caregivers, they’re ready to learn life skills, Lundgren explained. “We need to get them used to a collar and have them practice walking on a leash. We want them to gain confidence and become outgoing pups, ready to be someone’s beloved pet.”
Through this structured positive reinforcement decompression program, Baypath has successfully found loving homes for 10 of the 12 rescued dogs. The organization has been trying to place the two remaining guests: a sweet, bonded pair named Maia and Max.
“Maia and Max were both very shy when they arrived, but they find comfort in each other and can achieve so much as a team,” Lundgren shared. “Each of them is confident in different areas and helps the other overcome their apprehension. Max gives everyone the best hugs, and Maia will melt your heart with her gentle spirit. They both love to wrestle, play with toys and go on walks together with our volunteers.”
As Baypath staff continue to search for a forever home for Maia and Max, they are encouraged by updates on the dogs that have found homes and are thriving. One of their first South Korea rescues, Luna, clearly is grateful to have settled into her new family, and even puts herself to bed in her crate every night. Luna’s adopter told Baypath, “She is one of the friendliest and sweetest dogs I have ever met.”
“It is amazing and inspiring, how resilient these dogs are,” remarked Lundgren. “Through Baypath’s program, these dogs have successfully adapted to life here in the U.S. and to their new families. Every one of our adopters has been very happy bringing these dogs into their lives.”
No doubt the dogs are happy as well.
To learn more about Maia and Max — or other dogs available for adoption — go online to baypathhumane.org/available-dogs.