A very long journey has ended for 14 dogs once held in a Korean meat farm.
The dogs were rescued from South Korea and brought to Tampa with help from the Humane Society of Tampa Bay.
Officials say, now that they are safe from slaughter, the real work begins.
The dogs arrived Friday evening at the Humane Society on N Armenia Avenue. It was a very exciting moment for the volunteers who were eager to make these dogs feel at home.
But there’s a lot of uncertainty for the dogs. Some of them were afraid to even leave their cages; because that’s the only way of life they’ve ever known.
“They’ve come from Wanju, Korea. Flew about 14 and a half hours to San Francisco,” explained Humane Society of Tampa Bay CEO Sherry Silk. “These dogs are going to be very stressed out.”
It took two flights and nearly 8,000 miles of travel for the 14 rescued dogs from a meat farm to find shelter in Tampa.
“[The dogs] may have some issues, so I think it’s mixed emotions, but mostly it’s just happy that we can help them,” said Nash Mccutchen, who helped transport the dogs to Tampa.
They landed in Orlando Friday evening, where volunteers took the dogs into their care. Fear could be seen on their faces, because it’s the first time they’ve ever been treated like a pet, instead of a piece of meat.
“They’ve never been on leashes. They’ve been in cages their whole lives, so they simply don’t know how to walk on a leash,” McCutchen said.
Video recorded inside Korean meat farms over the last year shows vile conditions where dogs are left in small crates nearly 24-hours a day, and only given food to fatten them up before a gruesome slaughter.
“They electrocute them or they hang them, and there’s been evidence that shows sometimes they’re not dead when they start,” Silk said.
The dogs are later sold off for meat. It’s a cultural tradition that’s now dying in South Korea.
Despite their dark past, these dogs escaped. Officials say they can already see a bright future. Some warmed up to volunteers within minutes.
But it will take time before all 14 of those tails are wagging and the dogs learn to trust humans again. Officials say, they’re hoping to find each one a family and a safe place to call home
“It may take several months, let’s face it, it’s going to be a long haul, but we’re willing to try,” Silk said.
There are a variety of breeds and sizes ranging from 115 pounds, down to about 20.
The humane society said it knows people are curious, so they are allowing them to stop by and take a look at the dogs during open hours, before they go up for adoption.