Dog farmers in South Korea are protesting a ban on the consumption and farming of dogs as food, threatening to unleash dogs from their farms all at once. The government has promised support to those closing their farms.
There are approximately 1,150 dog breeding farms, with 34 slaughterhouses, and 219 distribution companies for the industry, according to Reuters. An additional 1,600 restaurants serve dog, according to government data, the outlet reported.
Farmers have protested in front of the legislature to demand the ruling People Power Party get rid of the legislation. The farmers reportedly said that banning the industry would destroy their livelihood and limit the options of diners. They alleged claimed that the food has traditionally been consumed to beat summer heat.
“If I have to close down, with the financial condition I’m in, there really is no answer to what I can do,” said Lee Kyeong-sig, who runs a farm of up to 1,100 dogs. “I’ve been in this for 12 years and it is so sudden.”
A Gallup Korea poll from 2022 reportedly showed that almost two-thirds of respondents opposed eating dog meat, with 8% saying they had eaten dog meat within the last year. That number was 27% in 2015.
A poll by Humane Society International and Nielsen resulted in 86% of respondents saying they “have little to no intention of consuming dog meat in the future, regardless of their past consumption.”
President Yoon Suk Yeol’s party introduced the ban on the sale and breeding of dogs for consumption. More than 6 million South Korean households own a dog as a pet. The first lady has been vocal about the issue and has adopted dogs and owns six in total.
The agriculture minister said the ban would be implemented quickly but that farmers would be provided the maximum support possible, with financial compensation and a three-year grace period.
Still, farmers clashed with police at the legislature and even attempted to drive trucks in front of the presidential office with dogs in cages, which they said they would release at the scene.
The protest was composed of about 200 dog farmers from the Korea Dog Meat Farmers’ Association. According to Time, the union said it was contemplating the release of 2 million dogs near government landmarks in protest.
“If you ask how big the opposition from farmers is, we’re talking about releasing 2 million dogs we’re raising,” Joo Young-bong, head of the association, reportedly said on a radio show.
The union boss listed potential target sites such as the aforementioned presidential office, along with the agriculture minister’s home.
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