San Diego Humane Society saves dogs destined for meat trade
September 17, 2015 was a day that changed the destiny of 103 dogs—young mastiffs, Jindo mixes, Chihuahuas, and Yorkshire terriers bound for slaughter in South Korea. Part of the region’s profitable dog meat trade, these dogs—ranging in age from 4 months to 2 years—were instead rescued by Humane Society International (HSI), a Washington D.C.–based animal welfare organization that’s working diligently across Asia to end the dog meat trade and provide alternate options for dog meat farmers. HSI sought help from regional organizations, and San Diego Humane Society (SDHS) was happy to step up to the task.
“Our goal is to end animal suffering in any form it takes. The dog meat trade is one of the most horrific forms of cruelty and we took on helping these animals as an urgent mission for San Diego Humane Society,” says Dr. Gary Weitzman, president and CEO. “We got the call about these dogs and there was no question that we would help them. We ended up with 29, but we would have taken all of them.”
All 103 dogs arrived in San Francisco and made their way to various shelters along the West Coast. SDHS deployed its Special Response Team—formed to act quickly in times of disaster or urgent rescue—and traveled to retrieve the 29 dogs bound for Southern California. Once they arrived at SDHS, they were quickly seen by veterinary staff and most were determined to be in good health.
“We immediately started working with them and they seemed to be doing fairly great,” Dr. Weitzman says. “There weren’t many medical issues, they weren’t aggressive, they were wagging their tails, and they would play. Still, they’ve really never had a chance yet in their young lives
to be regular dogs, so there’s
a lot of socialization and behavior training that’s
going to be needed from their
About half of the dogs were adopted right away; a few were returned due to unpredictable behavior, but that’s par for the course, Dr. Weitzman says, and also the best way for SDHS to learn the true temperament of an animal up for adoption.
“That way, we can take them to our Behavior Center, do rehabilitation work, and teach them how to be pets so we can plan how to make the perfect match between the dog and his adoptive family.”
SDHS remains steadfastly committed to the animals in the San Diego community and to sustaining the monumental efforts achieved by the San Diego Animal Welfare Coalition’s “Getting to Zero” campaign to prevent the need to unnecessarily euthanize healthy or treatable animals. Dr. Weitzman is also adamant that the organization continue to go the extra mile to advocate for animal welfare beyond the region and fight against cruelty in many other forms, including cockfighting and dogfighting, puppy mills, and other inhumane treatment of animals.
“We feel strongly that SDHS should be a good steward for all animals,” he concludes. “We’ll always open our doors for animals in need.”
BY THE NUMBERS
(Fiscal year 2015 in review)
Pounds of kitty litter used at
San Diego Humane Society’s Kitten Nursery
Animals adopted at all San Diego
Animal Welfare Coalition shelters
Orphaned and injured wild animals
entering Project Wildlife for rehabilitation
Pounds of pet food and cat litter distributed to
support families in need through PAWS San Diego