Dogs’ long jour­ney from Seoul to Cam­bridge

Hu­man So­ci­ety saves dogs des­tined for meat in South Korea — now des­tined for adop­tion, with a rest stop here

Waterloo Region Record - - Local - LISA RUT­LEDGE

As Ewa Demi­anow­icz en­ters a Cam­bridge ware­house filled with rows of crated ca­nines res­cued from a dog meat farm in South Korea, she con­sid­ers the more than 60 dogs for­tu­nate to have es­caped cer­tain death.

The cam­paign man­ager for Hu­mane So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional Canada, who just days ago helped res­cue 200 dogs from the farm out­side of Seoul, says she knows what life was like for the dogs, and what fate was in store for them. An­other 30 are ex­pected to ar­rive from the Toronto Pear­son In­ter­na­tional Air­port.

As she walks by their cages, housed at Cam­bridge’s Sharp Trans­porta­tion ware­house be­fore head­ing to the so­ci­ety’s emer­gency shel­ter in Mon­treal, Demi­anow­icz re­counts the res­cue that un­folded less than a week ago.

She was among the work­ers who freed dogs from crowded cages, fly­ing them in shifts to their new des­ti­na­tions.

“I know they’ve es­caped a fate so few of them are able to es­cape,” she said. “This is a sym­bolic ac­tion be­cause there are three mil­lion dogs who are stuck on farms. They’re the lucky ones.”

For the ac­tivist, the dogs are more than just lucky. Demi­anow­icz be­lieves they will live an­other day to share in a big­ger story about progress for an­i­mal pro­tec­tion.

“I like to call them am­bas­sadors be­cause their sto­ries, and where they came from, peo­ple will know about it.

They talk about it to their friends, and each time this dog will meet some­one, the story will be told. So, they re­ally be­come true am­bas­sadors for the cam­paign.”

Ninety dogs will be tem­po­rar­ily cared for in Cam­bridge, be­fore head­ing to Mon­treal, where they will re­ceive med­i­cal at­ten­tion and be­havioural sup­port be­fore be­ing el­i­gi­ble for adop­tion.

This is the fourth time res­cues have come through Cam­bridge, thanks to the sup­port of Sharp Trans­porta­tion, which not only helps with trans­porta­tion, but of­fers its ware­house as a re­cov­ery place for the dogs mid-trip.

The ware­house full of bark­ing dogs, while a hec­tic and loud scene, also serves as a re­birth op­por­tu­nity. These new days are among the first times the dogs will re­ceive qual­ity food and wa­ter, and much-needed ex­er­cise dur­ing leashed walks. More im­por­tant, the dogs are learn­ing what it means to hear a friendly voice and feel a lov­ing scratch be­hind their ears.

Sleep comes eas­ier now for Demi­anow­icz, know­ing the res­cues are safe from slaugh­ter.

“Just see­ing these dogs bound in those cages, and know­ing they never left the cage. They leave it only to be killed. There’s no walks, there’s no in­ter­ac­tion with hu­mans.”

Liv­ing con­di­tions on farms can’t be erased from mem­ory, in­sists Demi­anow­icz.

“It’s al­ways pretty atro­cious to see. What we see are rows and rows of wire cages, and the dogs crammed in those cages, with mul­ti­ple dogs in one en­clo­sure.”

Stacked wire-bot­tomed cages at the farm re­sulted in fe­ces and urine flow­ing from top to bot­tom. There were no at­tempts to clean cages, in­clud­ing those hous­ing preg­nant dogs and pup­pies.

The odour is over­whelm­ing, tak­ing your breath away, she said.

“It’s al­ways the first thing you no­tice. I don’t even breathe in. I try to breathe through my mouth be­cause it’s too strong.”

But the res­cues are prov­ing re­silient, pounc­ing and pranc­ing while walk­ing through the ware­house Wed­nes­day morn­ing. Many are so­cial and crave at­ten­tion.

Hu­man in­ter­ac­tion had pre­vi­ously con­sisted of a farm hand dis­pens­ing a daily stew of restau­rant waste and veg­eta­bles, mixed with wa­ter for hy­dra­tion.

The Cana­dian arm of the in­ter­na­tional hu­mane so­ci­ety has been in­stru­men­tal in lead­ing the ef­fort to dis­man­tle dog meat farms in South Korea, the only coun­try still rais­ing and slaugh­ter­ing dogs for hu­man con­sump­tion.

The in­dus­try is in ‘leg­isla­tive limbo,’ as dogs aren’t con­sid­ered live­stock, and there are no reg­u­la­tions for keep­ing dogs for hu­man con­sump­tion. Farm­ers breed dogs, or take in strays and dogs aban­doned by their fam­i­lies.

While dogs are sup­posed to be slaugh­tered un­der reg­u­lated con­di­tions — and not on farms — Demi­anow­icz said the so­ci­ety has ob­served count­less breaches, and even found elec­tro­cu­tion equip­ment on the farm shut down this month.

Grad­u­ally, cul­tural changes are un­der­way in the in­dus­try, as ac­tivists help farm­ers es­tab­lish new liveli­hoods.

The hu­mane so­ci­ety, notes Demi­anow­icz, isn’t merely im­pos­ing its beliefs on South Korean farm­ers, but sup­ports lo­cal an­i­mal cru­elty preven­tion cam­paigns aim­ing to treat dogs as com­pan­ions, not food.

LISA RUT­LEDGE CAM­BRIDGE TIMES

Hu­mane So­ci­ety In­ter­na­tional dog res­cue worker Camille Circe-Per­rault with one of 60 res­cue dogs tem­po­rar­ily housed at Sharp Trans­porta­tion in Cam­bridge. They will soon head to the so­ci­ety's emer­gency shel­ter in Mon­treal. The so­ci­ety says mil­lions of dogs are on meat farms in South Korea.

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