Dogs rescued from South Korean meat farm arrive in Oregon

Emily Warchol, a veterinary technician at the Humane Society of Central Oregon, holds one of the puppies rescued from South Korean dog-meat trade.

BEND — Twenty-eight dogs raised on a South Korean dog-meat farm were brought to central Oregon over the weekend, part of a campaign by Humane Society International to end the dog-meat trade in Asia.

The Humane Society of Central Oregon, in Bend, took in 17 dogs, including six puppies; BrightSide Animal Center in Redmond took in 11 dogs, from 4 months to 2 years old. Officials say all of the dogs need to be assessed for medical and behavioral issues before they can be put up for adoption.

While dogs are used as meat for human consumption in other countries, South Korea is the only place they are raised on farms for that purpose, said Adam Parascandola, director of animal protection and crisis response for Humane Society International. Last year the group started working with farmers directly to close them down, paying the farmers to demolish their kennels and switch to another operation that doesn’t involve raising animals for meat.

It closed four farms and relocated 236 dogs last year. Earlier this year it closed one farm in Wonju, South Korea, with 270 dogs, which is where the dogs brought to Central Oregon came from.

“Anyone who adopts these dogs will need a great deal of patience,” said Becky Stock, BrightSide executive director, noting they’ve never been potty trained, walked on a leash or socialized to play with other dogs.

Stock said a BrightSide trainer will spend the next few weeks reading to the dogs so they get used to hearing voices and hand-feeding them to build up trust.

Stock said once they are adopted, their owners may receive special training.

On Monday at the Humane Society of Central Oregon, dogs were brought in one by one from their pens for medical exams. Most of their ages and breeds are a guess at this point.

Carmine, believed to be a 1-year-old retriever-Lab mix, had to be coaxed from his pen slowly, peeking around the corner for the dog next to him.

He was carried into the exam room, where he cowered in the corner, but his tail started to wag when he saw Vanessa, another 1-year-old mix brought from South Korea.

Next up were the puppies, 3 months old and visibly shaking. Technician Emily Warchol kept both hands on Fallon, one of the puppies, to keep him calm as veterinarian Elizabeth Gray checked his eyes and ears and listened to his heart.

Some of the older dogs have foot infections from standing on grates for long periods, and the larger dogs have orthopedic issues as a result of being confined to too-small kennels. Apollo, a 129-pound mastiff with droopy jowls, has asymmetrical hips, large callouses on his back legs and broken teeth, most likely from chewing on his kennel.

But a bigger concern than the medical issues is how fearful these dogs are. While other dogs in the shelter howl and bark and compete for attention, these dogs lie quietly in the corners of their pens.

“For the most part, they just hide in back like that. They’re not used to people looking at them, trying to interact with them,” said Karie Gibbs, an animal care technician at Humane Society of Central Oregon.

The shelter commonly has open beds and brings in dogs from out of the area to be adopted, since it does not receive enough strays and forfeited dogs to meet the demand of people wanting to adopt, said Lynne Ouchida, the shelter’s outreach manager. Stray dogs are held for five days before being put up for adoption to give owners time to claim them; last month 92 percent of the strays brought in were claimed.

“We’re definitely having to do more (transfers),” Ouchida said, noting this was the first international transfer in the 20 years she has been there.

Suzanne Verhaeg, of Bend, came to Humane Society of Central Oregon on Monday with her husband, Marty. They were thinking of adopting and heard about the South Korean dogs.

Just knowing what they’ve been through, she said, it makes you want to help.

“You are handsome. Look at the face,” she said to Apollo, the mastiff, leaning down to meet his gaze. Unlike most of the dogs brought from South Korea, he sat near the door of his pen, watching the people come and go.