One of South Korea’s top animal rights groups, the Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE), has been exposed for secretly destroying more than 230 rescued dogs in their care, despite publicly advocating a no-kill policy. The responsibility has been traced back only to CARE’s leader, who gave the orders, in aid of securing continued donations for the organisation.
For many years, CARE has proudly organised rescue missions to save dogs who were destined for death at dogmeat farms across the South Korea. CARE has gathered to itself around 23,000 members and has collected around two billion won (S$2.4 million) in annual donations.
Every year, around one million dogs are eaten and enjoyed as a summertime delicacy. However, public sentiment on eating dogs has been changing, with around 70 percent of South Koreans no longer eating dogs, as of a 2017 survey cited by another media source. Only 40 percent, though, are in support of having the practice banned entirely. And 65 percent of South Koreans believe that dogs should be raised and slaughtered in more humane conditions.
It looks like the ages-old tradition is on its way out, as people have been viewing dogs more as pets and less as food, to the point that many of the nation’s younger citizens consider it a taboo topic.
Even South Korean President Moon Jae-in, a known animal lover with several pet dogs, adopted a small black and white mongrel from CARE in 2017, when he took office for the first time.
The Hankyoreh newspaper reported that CARE’s head, Park So-yeon, had ordered a secret operation, having more than 230 rescued dogs killed to make more space at the already full shelter.
The number of dogs destroyed – around 230 – was around a quarter of the dogs the organisation rescued in the period, according to Hankyoreh.
CARE staff revealed that of all the dogs Park ordered to be killed, only 10 percent were beyond saving and were suffering from incurable illnesses. According to a CARE employee, the majority of dogs killed were put down because they were too big and taking up a lot of space.
No more space for new rescues means no new rescue missions, which means no more funding for the campaigns. At the end of the day, it all came down to money.
Because of CARE’s staunch no-kill policy, the slaughtered dogs were then falsely listed as having been adopted.
In her and CARE’s defence, Park issued a statement saying that a “small number” of exterminations had been “inevitable” since 2015 due to a “surge in requests for rescue missions.”
She also said that that only dogs with untreatable aggression and those with incurable illnesses were destroyed, insisting that they were put down only after “extensive efforts” to save them first.
CARE staff members and employees engaged in a protest in the organisation’s offices last weekend to oust Park from CARE.