Olympian Gus Kenworthy can also add ‘hero’ to his title after helping convince a dog farmer to shut down his operation, saving over 90 dogs’ lives.
Kenworthy is a freestyle skier and made his way to the Pyeong Chang 2018 Winter Olympics. In addition to his athleticism, the skier is also an animal advocate – he wanted to use his position as an Olympian in South Korea to help bring awareness to the inhumane and cruel treatment of animals in the country.
Kenworthy partnered up with Humane Society International to convince a dog farmer in the area to shut down his operations. It’s unsure what was said to the farmer; however, he agreed to cease all ‘farming’ and surrender the dogs.
In South Korea, and other Asian countries, eating ‘Gaegogi,’ or dog meat, is a long-practiced tradition.
Although the tradition of eating dog meat has been practiced for many years, sanitation and cruelty issues have caused animal advocates to try and end the controversial practice altogether. According to Unilad, “South Korea adopted its first Animal Protection Law in Ma 1991, it never prohibited the slaughter of dogs for their meat, simply banning the killing of animals in brutal ways.”
Unlike pork or chicken, dogs do not fall under the Livestock Processing Act of 1962, which means, “there are no regulations when it comes to slaughtering dogs for meat, and this leads to them being killed in numerous cruel ways, including electrocution, strangulation and some are even allegedly beaten to death.”
The 90 dogs that Kenworthy helped free will be taken to the United States and Canada where, after medical treatment, they will all hopefully find forever homes.
One dog, named Beemo, immediately caught Kenworthy’s attention, and the Olympian knew that it was love at first sight. All of the dogs were getting on a plane to a safe environment, and luckily for Beemo, he was going to go home with his new dad.
The freestyle skier took to Instagram after the good news of the farm closure, and in his post, he wrote:
“…It’s not my place to impose western ideals on the people here. The way these animals are being treated, however, is completely inhumane and culture should never be a scapegoat for cruelty…”
The Olympian isn’t a stranger to rescuing dogs. When he competed in the 2014 Sochi Olympics, Kenworthy helped rescue five stray dogs he had met wandering around the city.
Kenworthy’s efforts will hopefully start spreading more awareness about the practice of dog farming in Asia. Thankfully, the practice seems to be dying out amongst the younger generations of people in South Korea. According to a 2007 survey by the Korean Ministry of Agriculture, 59 percent of Koreans under 30 would not eat dog.
We commend Kenworthy’s incredible efforts, and although he didn’t get a medal, he got Beemo which is just as good. His full Instagram post is below.
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This morning Matt and I had a heart-wrenching visit to one of the 17,000 dog farms here in South Korea. Across the country there are 2.5 million dogs being raised for food in some of the most disturbing conditions imaginable. Yes, there is an argument to be made that eating dogs is a part of Korean culture. And, while don't personally agree with it, I do agree that it's not my place to impose western ideals on the people here. The way these animals are being treated, however, is completely inhumane and culture should never be a scapegoat for cruelty. I was told that the dogs on this particular farm were kept in "good conditions" by comparison to other farms. The dogs here are malnourished and physically abused, crammed into tiny wire-floored pens, and exposed to the freezing winter elements and scorching summer conditions. When it comes time to put one down it is done so in front of the other dogs by means of electrocution sometimes taking up to 20 agonizing minutes. Despite the beliefs of some, these dogs are no different from the ones we call pets back home. Some of them were even pets at one time and were stolen or found and sold into the dog meat trade. Luckily, this particular farm (thanks to the hard work of the Humane Society International and the cooperation of a farmer who's seen the error of his ways) is being permanently shut down and all 90 of the dogs here will be brought to the US and Canada where they'll find their fur-ever homes. I adopted the sweet baby in the first pic (we named her Beemo) and she'll be coming to the US to live with me as soon as she's through with her vaccinations in a short couple of weeks. I cannot wait to give her the best life possible! There are still millions of dogs here in need of help though (like the Great Pyrenees in the 2nd pic who was truly the sweetest dog ever). I'm hoping to use this visit as an opportunity to raise awareness to the inhumanity of the dog meat trade and the plight of dogs everywhere, including back home in the US where millions of dogs are in need of loving homes! Go to @hsiglobal's page to see how you can help. #dogsarefriendsnotfood #adoptdontshop ❤️🐶