Video from the Humane Society of the United States shows dogs held at a dog meat farm in South Korea. It is legal in South Korea to raise dogs as livestock or supply dog meat for human consumption. (Humane Society of the United States)

Of all the sad dogs in the world, perhaps the saddest are “dog meat dogs”: those raised for food in South Korea.

But, thanks to the efforts of the Humane Society International with an assist from a Rockville, Md., shelter, more than 30 of those dogs will find new homes in a nation where they will be hugged, snuggled and loved, not turned into dinner.

Twenty-four of the dogs, rescued from a South Korean dog farm by the Humane Society, arrived at Pet Dominion, a veterinary and boarding service in Rockville, earlier this week, and the rest are on the way. Alas, the dogs will not become Maryland residents, but are merely resting on their long trip to North Carolina, where they will be sent to no-kill shelters for adoption.

“They are doing really well,” said Kim Kirkman, Pet Dominion’s manager. “The ones that came Tuesday night were very fearful and afraid, and even in just a couple days have opened up to the staff for the most part.”


Rescued dogs from a South Korean dog-meat farm are transported to the United States to be adopted. (Courtesy of Free Korean Dogs)

The former dog-meat dogs come in all shapes and sizes, Kirkman said. There are Jindos — a dog native to South Korea. There are terrier mixes and a greyhound mix. There is a 100-plus-pound mastiff on its way in a custom-made crate after it was clear he was too big for a standard-issue carrier.

And there is Kirkman’s favorite — Hodol, a Nureongi mix that looks like a tiger.

“He’s cool,” she said.

Hodol, a dog rescued from South Korea. (Courtesy Kim Kirkman)
Hodol, a dog rescued from South Korea. (Courtesy of Kim Kirkman)

According to the Humane Society, the dogs were rescued from an unlicensed operation in Jeonju, a city about 120 miles south of Seoul. Their lives were not picturesque — most dogs raised for meat are slaughtered by the time they turn 1.

Kelly O’Meara, a director at Humane Society International, said the dogs live in metal cages empty except for a food bowl and “essentially suffer daily neglect.”

“They are exposed to all extremes, all weather, whether extremely hot or cold,” she said. “Korean winters are brutal.”

The animal rights organization worked to close five other dog farms in South Korea, where up to 2.5 million dogs are raised for slaughter annually, and move the farms into other industries. Dog meat is not popular among younger generations, and is thought of as a “dying industry,” O’Meara said.

“All farmers we’ve worked with are relatively eager to get out of this business,” she said. “They don’t like what they do.”


Dogs that were rescued from a dog meat farm in Jeonju, South Korea. (Courtesy of Free Korean Dogs)

Since 2014, the organization has brought a total of 526 dogs from South Korea and placed them throughout the country, from the West Coast to Maine.

Once they have dried their tears, those who wish to make the drive to North Carolina to adopt one of the dogs can inquire at one of the shelters below: