Mokpo is one of 14 dogs from South Korea that will be up for adoption in Richmond soon. Photo: Joe Mahoney/Times Dispatch


Fourteen dogs have survived the long journey from South Korean to the United States, but long flights were nothing compared to the living conditions they endured before Human Society International stepped in to save them from slaughter.

“Dogs like this that have been saved from this fate are incredibly fortunate,” Robing Starr, CEO of the Richmond SPCA, told the Richmond Times-Dispatch. “We’re just so happy to get to be a part of saving their lives.”

Since 2014, HSI has been working hard to end the dog-meat trade in South Korea; 540 dogs have been rescued in the process, brought to the U.S. and Canada for adoption. While the Richmond SPCA has in the past cared for dogs displaced by natural disasters in other parts of the country, this will be their first international rescue effort.

According to Humane Society International’s website, dogs bred at these farms often suffer from disease and malnutrition and are subjected to “daily neglect or even deliberate cruelty.”

Laura Palin, admissions manager at the Richmond SPCA, wheels out a recently arrived dog from the cargo area at the Dulles International Airport. Photo: Debbie Truong


The Richmond group were saved from a farm in Jeonju, South Korea, and were sheltered, vaccinated and quarantined in Daegu and Isla before being flown to San Francisco and, eventually, Dulles, according to the Richmond SPCA.

Abbey Howarth, a spokeswoman for the Richmond SPCA, said she was told by Humane Society representatives that Korean officials found the dog meat farm to be operating illegally and ordered it to close after the officials were tipped off by neighbors.

Starr told reporters there will be nine males and five females up for adoption, including a mother and her litter. It’s unlikely the dogs, most of whom are a year or two old, are “any breed that we would recognize,” she said.

One of the Richmond rescues stretches its legs after a long flight. Photo: Joe Mahoney/Times Dispatch


Before interested Virginians can take these dogs home, they’ll undergo both veterinary and behavioral checks. Starr said she expects some of the animals to be ready for adoption in about a week or so.

“When we save the lives of animals that were really facing not only short lives of utter misery but then a terrible death, nothing could be more central to the accomplishment of that,” she said.

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