York County SPCA becomes home to rescues from South Korean dog farms

Tina Locurto
York Dispatch

Nine dogs were recently brought into the York County SPCA after they were rescued from a dog meat farm in South Korea. 

The rescue mission, coordinated by Humane Society International, saved about 200 dogs in total — including four Korean mastiffs, two Korean jindos, a samoyed, a black Labrador retriever and a chihuahua — which were brought to York County in November.

"These dogs have been on a long journey," said Steven Martinez, executive director of the York County SPCA. "You could see everything they're experiencing is for the first time. It takes a lot of patience."

The rescue mission was an almost-monthlong effort.

Long journey: Though the dogs were rescued in October, volunteers with Humane Society International were required to quarantine in South Korea before they were allowed to travel back to the United States with the animals.

Staff was again required to quarantine for an additional two weeks in Washington, before sending the dogs off to  various shelters, including the York County SPCA. 

The nine dogs didn't make it to the York County SPCA until Nov. 13. Since then, they have received extensive training and medical care.

"Some of the dogs came in feral, and some came in (behaving) very lovingly," Martinez said. "These dogs were in complete isolation for their entire lives, so we didn't know what condition they would be in."

Lola, a 3-year-old female Tosa-Inu/Mastiff mix, is available for adoption at York County SPCA in Manchester Township, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Lola is one of nine dogs at the SPCA who were part of the nearly 200 dogs rescued by Humane Society International from the South Korean dog meat trade. Dawn J. Sagert photo

More:Even with restrictions, adoptions steady at York County SPCA

Practice declining: Dog farming for consumption has long been a custom in South Korea. But the practice has declined in recent years, reported The Washington Post, and is growing increasingly controversial there.

Still, South Koreans eat more than 2 million dogs every year, reported USA Today. 

Much of the training for the nine dogs included teaching the animals how to walk on a leash, receiving treats and playing with toys.

Martinez said adopters should be aware this training could be required to continue for some of the dogs post-adoption.

"Everything is new to them," he said, adding that volunteers also spent time teaching the animals basic manners and English commands.

One of the dogs in training didn't recognize a window and tried running into it while out on a walk, said SPCA spokesperson Kaila Young. 

"It's as simple as that, teaching them what their environment is here and getting them used to grass and windows and things that aren't just the wire cages," she added.

On Thursday, four of the nine dogs became available for adoption. The other animals require additional training and care, Martinez said. 

Angela, a 2-year-old female Tosa-Inu/Mastiff mix, is available for adoption at York County SPCA in Manchester Township, Thursday, Dec. 3, 2020. Angela is one of nine dogs at the SPCA who were part of the nearly 200 dogs rescued by Humane Society International from the South Korean dog meat trade. Dawn J. Sagert photo

Interested candidates can apply  to adopt the dogs by visiting https://ycspca.org/.

This was the first time the York County SPCA has taken in animals from Humane Society International. The two organizations partnered earlier this fall in an effort to find homes for displaced animals and bring awareness to cruelty situations.

"When people reach out to us, we try to answer the call," Martinez said. "It's the reason why we do this work. It's mission-driven work — and the people who work here really believe in the work."

— Reach Tina Locurto at tlocurto@yorkdispatch.com or on Twitter at @tina_locurto.