(NEW YORK) — Almost 200 dogs have now arrived in the United States after being rescued from a dog meat farm in South Korea, according to the Humane Society International.

The rescue effort was conducted by Humane Society International (HIS) at a dog meet farm in Haemi, South Korea, and included a total of 170 dogs from one farm — including golden retrievers, a poodle, Korean jindos and mastiffs, Pomeranians, terriers and a Labrador — as well as 26 other dogs from a previous dog meat market and farm rescue operation. Those 26 animals had not been able to leave their temporary shelter in South Korea until now due to COVID-19 travel restrictions, according to HSI.

HSI’s U.S. team flew to Seoul, South Korea, where they remained in quarantine for two weeks at a government sanctioned hotel before being allowed out to rescue the animals from the dog meat farm in Haemi.

“Although most people in South Korea don’t regularly eat dog meat, and support for a ban is growing, there remain thousands of farms of all sizes across the country where dogs of all breeds endure a harsh existence,” said Kelly O’Meara, HSI’s vice president of companion animal campaigns in a statement. “With fewer people wanting to eat dog, farmers can see the writing is on the wall for this dying industry and so they work with HSI to find a solution that gives both them and their remaining dogs a chance of a new life. With such interest from dog farmers, and public support, we hope the Korean government will adopt this type of approach to phase out the dog meat industry for good.”

The majority of the rescued dogs will now take shelter in the Washington, D.C. area either in local area shelters or at a temporary shelter set up by HSI and the Animal Rescue Team of the Humane Society of the United States, with assistance from RedRover, an animal rescue organization. Any remaining dogs will be taken to a temporary shelter in Montreal, Canada, before being placed with local shelter partners of HSI there.

“All the dogs will be evaluated, receive the veterinary treatment needed, and be in warm beds with nutritious food for the first time in their lives,” said HSI. “The dogs staying in the HSI/HSUS temporary shelter will gradually move to shelter partners across the US over the coming month.”

The dog farm in Haemi is now the 17th one that HSI has permanently closed down, according to the organization.

“Dog adoption is not yet widely accepted in South Korea, however HSI hopes that its work to raise awareness about the benefits of adoption and promotion of its adoption success stories overseas, will gradually lead to more dogs finding forever families within the country,” said HSI.

While South Korea is the only country that intensively farms dogs for human consumption on a large scale — an estimated two million dogs per year — a new opinion poll conducted by Nielsen showed that 84% of the population say they don’t or won’t eat dog, and almost 60% support a legislative ban on the trade.

“Most South Koreans do not consume dog meat, and many citizens increasingly see dogs only as companion animals,” said HSI. “The increase in companionship with dogs, particularly among younger Koreans, has at the same time fostered a greater interest in animal welfare and a decline in acceptance of eating dog meat.”

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