Live from Korea – Meat Your New Dog

The first of 57 dogs once destined for South Korean dinner plates was adopted last Thursday by a Concord, California family.

“Kelly,” a three-month old Korean Jindo mix puppy, went home with Jackie Stevens who lost her own 16-year-old Jindo last February. “She’s going to have an awesome home,” she told the Marin Independent Journal. “I will give her the best life she could ever have outside South Korea.”

Humane Society International reportedly recovered all of the dogs from a South Korean dog meat farmer trying to leave the trade. The dogs were flown to San Francisco where they were received by the local SPCA and doled out to regional Humane Society and SPCA branches on March 20.

Beagles, poodles, Korean Jindos and Tosas were among the breeds rescued. Efforts to socialize and rehabilitate the soon-to-be companion animals have reportedly gone well and it’s possible that more dogs could be adopted in the coming days.

Western pet lovers were outraged when details of Korean dog meat trade recently emerged, though it has been well known that dog meat has been a staple of Korean (and other East and Southeast Asian) diets since antiquity. Clearly, there is a vast disparity in the perception of the dog’s place in our two cultures: one man’s meat is another man’s companion.

Most of us don’t think of cows, chickens and sheep as animal companions in the traditional sense. However, there are a few pastoral enclaves in America – and in other countries – where these animals may indeed be thought of as companions, or, at the very least, “living property” that may live to happy, ripe old ages before being consumed.

I was among those who lashed out in disgust toward the Korean dog meat breeders. And, yet, there I was last Friday, nestled in the comfy Marin-County home of my gracious in-laws, imbibing in a Passover Seder replete with “acceptable” proteins including beef brisket, chicken-stock soup and the symbolic charred lamb shank.

I like to believe that the boundaries I draw between companion animal and protein source are “reasonable” and “appropriate.” Yet I cannot deny that these boundaries are a reflection of my prevailing culture. Moreover, while some aspects of my culture are fixed, others are fluid. The American taste for veal and foie gras, for example, has been off-again-on-again in recent years as we struggle to reconcile and rationalize the conditions under which these livestock are raised.

I have no defense for the Korean dog meat trade. It also appears that I have no defense for my ravenous appetite for “traditional” animal proteins other than a thin veil of culture.

Food for thought, if not the belly.

f you are interested in adopting one of the rescued South Korean dogs, please call:


"Dog Meat" by Original uploader was Qwyrxian at en.wikipedia - Transferred from en.wikipedia; transferred to Commons by User:Tomchen1989 using CommonsHelper.. Licensed under CC BY-SA 3.0 via Wikimedia Commons. Taken by Rob Sherridan.