Fears for welfare of Korean dogs

Mar 28, 2008

The Seoul Metropolitan Government is proposing that dogs in Korea should be re-categorized as livestock, which would give the dog meat trade in South Korea legal status.

Some have suggested that this proposal, if accepted by the central government, would allow for regulation of the trade and improvement in welfare. WSPA argues that this would not be the case.


The reality of the dog meat trade

As dogs are not officially listed as livestock in South Korea, their meat cannot legally be sold. However, many dog meat restaurants do exist across the country and it is estimated that two million dogs are raised for food every year.

The primary concern of the South Korean authorities is for human health, as currently there are no sanitary regulations related to the processing or selling of dog meat. If the dogs are classified as livestock, regulations will be put in place and the meat potentially sold more widely.

Our partners in South Korea have evidence that dogs reared for food are farmed in appalling conditions, treated cruelly at markets where they are sold as live animals, and killed openly in public ways that cause immense suffering.

Unsuitable for farming

Advocates of the trade have claimed that legalizing the sale of dog meat would lead to improvements in animal welfare, allowing for regulations to be introduced. But in reality there is no evidence that the large population of dogs involved in this trade could be farmed, transported or slaughtered humanely.

While WSPA works to improve the welfare of animals that can be farmed humanely, such as the Model Farm Project, the behavioral and physical needs of dogs mean this species is simply not suitable for the meat trade.

The practices involved in raising and slaughtering dogs would remain inherently cruel despite any attempts at regulation. This science-based rationale is behind WSPA's complete opposition to this trade and to the re-categorization of any dogs as livestock.  

Man's best friend?

A little boy plays with a dog of the breed typically used for dogmeat.

There are approximately five million pet dogs in South Korea. With around 17% of the residents of Seoul, the capital city, owning a pet dog, there is clearly a fondness for animals in Korea.

But while many dogs are much loved pets, some people believe that pet dogs and ‘yellow' dogs (those used for meat and are usually sandy in color) are completely different animals.

WSPA argues that classifying dogs as livestock would formalize this false notion of ‘pet' dogs and ‘meat' dogs being different, when in reality the various breeds of dogs used for meat are essentially no different from those commonly kept as pets. In fact, ‘meat' dogs have been adopted as pets and abandoned 'pets' have been found in the dog meat trade.

Fighting reclassification

WSPA respects the cultures and beliefs of the countries we work in, and have chosen to act primarily through local member societies on this issue who fully understand the cultural impact of the trade. We are currently working with our member societies in South Korea to identify the most effective response to the proposed reclassification to ensure we can have the biggest impact possible in the long-term. 

WSPA is enabling South Korean groups, specifically Animal Freedom Korea, to campaign effectively for change in their own country by providing both training and funding.

Read an article about the proposed legislative change in the Korean Times >>

Support WSPA's work to end animal suffering around the world >>

Page tools:
Share Share, Bookmark, Email or Print

Connect with WSPA on:


Support our work

Help WSPA promote humane stray management globally

A dog at WSPA member society KACPAW's clinic, Sri Lanka