Animal rights activists hail possible end to South Korean dog farms, as Olympic skier mourns death of adopted pet Beemo
Animal rights activists have welcomed moves by the South Korean parliament to ban farms breeding dogs for human consumption.
A new bill, introduced to the National Assembly earlier this month by Lee Sang-don, a member of the centre right Bareunmirae party, would remove the legal basis for factory-style mass breeding of dogs, reported the Korea Times.
“There are more than 3,000 dog farms where a million dogs get slaughtered every year,” said the Animal Liberation Wave group, who launched a campaign in January to ban the production and consumption of dog met and to legally define dogs as companions only.
“We hope the bill will become a law to take the first step to end the dog meat industry in Korea,” the group said.
Dogs have a complicated legal status in South Korea where the practice of eating their meat is thousands of years old and fuelled by a belief that it aids virility. Younger Koreans, however, are generally opposed to it and the number of dog meat restaurants is in steady decline.
Although dog meat cannot be traded through major distribution channels like other livestock, it is still legal to breed dogs to sell their meat as long as the animals are not killed in open areas or in front of each other.
Gus Kenworthy, a freestyle skier from Colorado, made headlines by adopting Beemo, a jindo husky mix puppy, which was one of 80 dogs rescued from a farm near Seoul by the Humane Society International (HSI).
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The charity estimates that more than 2.5 million dogs are bred for human consumption across South Korea.
After arriving in the US in March, Beemo featured regularly on Mr Kenworthy’s Instagram account and had one of her own, with 134,000 followers.
But on Sunday, the skier was forced to write a heart-wrenching goodbye after the young dog passed away unexpectedly from an incurable birth defect that had enlarged her heart. Mr Kenworthy said he and his boyfriend were “beside ourselves” trying to cope with the loss.
Two days ago my beautiful baby Beemo passed away. It was completely unexpected and Matt and I are beside ourselves trying to cope with her loss. For a week or so we'd been worrying because she was showing less and less interest in her food. There were several trips to the vet and on our final visit this past Thursday I asked them do a full body scan in case there was an underlying issue they had missed. Beemo went into a panic attack during the x-rays and her breathing became rapid and shallow. The scan revealed that her lungs were deteriorated and that her heart was too big for her body – a birth defect we had no way of knowing about. Unable to treat her there, I rushed her to the emergency vet where a breathing tube was put down her throat. They hoped that with a respirator breathing for her they could get her vitals back to a normal level so she could be treated but they were never able to do so. The past two days have been a blur. It all happened so fast that it's still hard to believe it. The ER doc told us that even if we'd somehow spotted the issue earlier it wouldn't have made a difference in the end. He said that she'd been living on "borrowed time" from the get go. Beemo was truly the best thing that ever happened to me and I feel so fortunate for our borrowed time together. I've never loved anything or anyone in the way that I loved that dog and she is and will always be deeply missed. She was so smart and playful. She brought so much happiness to so many people every single day. I'll always remember being out on a walk with her and every other second she would get stopped by someone wanting to pet her, kneel down and kiss her, hold her in their arms or take a photo and on many occasions a crowd of people would have formed around her. That was her power: she made people smile. She was the kindest, most gentle soul I've ever known. She loved people. She loved birds and the snow. She loved me and Matt. But most of all she loved meeting other dogs. If any of you have pets up in doggy heaven please tell them to go find Bee because she could really use a good play date right now. RIP sweet creature – your daddy loves you more than you could ever even know!
“Beemo was truly the best thing that ever happened to me and I feel so fortunate for our borrowed time together,” he wrote on Instagram.
“I’ve never loved anything or anyone in the way that I loved that dog and she is and will always be deeply missed. She was so smart and playful. She brought so much happiness to so many people every single day.”