[Update II] Hanam Emergency Dog Rescue
After first investigating the site of what is one of South Korea’s worst cases of intentional mass animal abuse on June 25th, 2018, we are now able to offer a fuller explanation of the situation at the Hanam City site. Understandably, our first concern was to secure the rescue of the dogs dumped on the site.
The land the dog slaughterers occupied and on which they dumped the dogs was previously a dog farm that the original owner had vacated after receiving compensation. The land was subsequently bought by Korea Land & Housing Corporation (LHC). The illegal occupiers—the dog slaughterers—demanded that LHC grant them more than $100,000 per cage for around 60 cages (totaling $6,000,000) to compensate for the costs of moving their facilities and loss of earnings while doing so. All throughout this time, they had been locking dogs up in makeshift cages without sufficient food or water, eventually butchering them, and bringing in more dogs to repeat the appalling cycle.
After the initial investigation and after video of the scene was published on social media, there was an influx of civil complaints against Hanam City. The City, however, initially refused to consider this as a case of animal abuse and was reluctant to deal with the situation. Because the owner was absent, no activists could legally rescue the dogs. Even if the abusers had come back, they would not have surrendered the dogs they were abusing. If any dogs had been rescued, other dogs would have surely ended up taking their place.
We, along with individual independent activists, went to City Hall to complain directly, which garnered more interest and civil complaints. Eventually, Hanam City’s deputy mayor went to the site and was compelled to admit that this was, indeed, a case of animal abuse. Unfortunately, due to this delay, the dog farmers had had time to secretly take out and butcher 30 of the dogs. Only when the abuse was recognized and admitted by the authorities could measures against it legally be taken.
Hanam City was overwhelmed by the situation and dealt with it very hesitantly. Therefore, CARE was tasked with solving the two main problems: how to legally rescue the dogs without the owners and abusers present, and how to lock down the site to prevent unauthorized access and further abuse. We could not simply remove the dogs en masse as there was no space at our facilities; we had the previous month rescued more than 200 dogs from Namyangju Dog Farm.
We, along with individual activists and local animal organizations formed a committee to provide adoption counseling, as well as to manage the rescuing and sheltering the dogs still on site and to retrieve the escaped dogs. We persuaded LHC and Hanam City to transfer ownership of the animals and bar access to the dog slaughterers. LHC helped by building temporary kennels on a cleaner plot of land and a sturdier perimeter fence. LHC workers have been taking care of these dogs, and individual activists have been providing food and water to some dogs that have escaped and are roaming around the area. This strategy can be used in the future to protect animals being used in attempts to extort undeserved compensation from the illegal occupation of land, such as in this case.
However, this raised another problem. While the remaining dogs are owned by Hanam City and free from abuse, if they fail to be adopted, according to current Korean laws regarding animals rescued from abuse, they will be deemed as “abandoned.” Normally, abandoned dogs in city shelters are euthanized after 10 days if they are not adopted or claimed. We requested, due to the unique circumstance of this case, that Hanam City extend the timeframe of protecting these dogs until the end of September. This is now a little more than a month away.
We have encouraged individual activists to rescue dogs and have reimbursed any costs they incurred for veterinary treatment, with an additional small subsidy provided by Hanam City. Around 145 of the dogs have been rescued this way, but there are still around 50 dogs in need of rescue and homes before the end of September. Neither Hanam City nor LHC wants to euthanize so many dogs at one time.
Up to now, CARE has raised just under $25,000, and we paid out around $7,000 in subsidies to volunteers to reimburse vet treatment fees. But there is still a lot of work to be done, and your help is still needed.
This horrifically unique case of mass animal abuse has stretched not only legal interpretation but also the resources and resourcefulness of both our organization and its staff and those of the volunteers and individual activists. We would like to sincerely thank all those who have done and continue to, put the lives of these poor dogs before their own comfort and convenience.