Heroic Dog Meat Rescue Ends in Heartbreak, But We’ll Never Lose Hope

Heroic Dog Meat Rescue Ends in Heartbreak, But We’ll Never Lose Hope

Rescue stories are often full of hope and lives saved, but a recent rescue effort we undertook with our South Korean rescue partner, Jindo Love Rescue, is a reminder of how difficult this work is in the trenches, and how much more needs to be done to protect dogs and get them safely to forever homes. 

At the end of January, Jindo Love Rescue heard about five puppies living on a mountainside in Busan in desperate need of rescue. Even though our foster center was already full of dogs waiting to be adopted and to fly to new homes, their story was so sad we knew we couldn’t say no to helping.

The dogs were also at great risk of ending up at a slaughterhouse nearby, and we were afraid it was only a matter of time before they were caught by someone with bad intentions, and didn’t want to see them end up in the dog meat trade.

We would later learn these puppies, who were believed to be about three months old, were still with their mother and her two siblings and they had all been surviving on scraps. A kind person who had been feeding them reached out for help, and our rescue team quickly went to assess the situation.

It rapidly became clear that this rescue would be more difficult than anticipated. Not only were there more dogs than initially expected, but they were very fearful of humans. The owner of the property was asked about them, and he informed us that he had been trying to get authorities to rescue them to no avail.

The rescue team went back the next day, prepared with more people and a big trap that food was placed in. It took three days, but the mom and puppies were all safely captured. Unfortunately, we weren’t able to capture her two siblings.

Our usual procedure is to get them all health checks and vaccinations and have them spayed or neutered to get ready for adoption, but the situation quickly took a tragic turn. By mid-February, it was clear that they were all very sick with parvo and distemper and were all hospitalized. Despite the best veterinary interventions we could provide, by the end of the month, only one puppy named Kay had survived.

After being in and out at the vet, Kay finally came back to our foster center at the end of March, but she continued to test positive for distemper and had a major neurological reaction. We knew the kindest thing we could do would be to euthanize her. This week, we are devastated that we had to say goodbye to her. 

People may assume rescuing always means saving lives, but since puppies in these situations are most often not vaccinated, they are incredibly vulnerable to deadly diseases like parvovirus and distemper. 

While we’re absolutely heartbroken that these dogs didn’t make it, we’re glad they were able to feel love and care and didn’t die in a much more horrific way in the dog meat trade. Even if they don’t make it with us, there is no such thing as a failed rescue. Although we can't predict the outcome when battling medical issues, giving them hope of a better life is priceless to each dog we save. Our generous supporters continue to make a difference and ensure we’re in a position to step in and help in emergency situations like this, especially considering how high the cost of veterinary care can get when the dogs we take in are unexpectedly sick.

Please take comfort in knowing we did all we could and these dogs felt loved by many people. With your support we will save even more dogs from the meat trade and will continue to be their voice and their lifeline, and find them loving forever homes — we’ve already flown 30 dogs to adopters so far this year.

You can be part of this mission by making a donation, spreading the word about our urgent need for flight volunteers to courier dogs to new homes, and by adopting — you can find many available dogs on Jindo Love Rescue’s Facebook page.