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Meet US Olympic Skier Gus Kenworthy & the South Korean Dogs He Saved

Last week US freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy shared a photo on Instagram of his visit to a South Korean dog meat farm in Gyeonggi-do province where he announced that he would be permanently adopting one of the dogs saved.

The athlete and his boyfriend, Matthew Wilkas joined the animal rescue team from Humane Society International (HSI), where they are working to save more than 80 dogs from the fate that awaits thousands of dogs in meat farms across the country.

Photo Credit: Lee Jae-Won/AP Images for HSI

This is the second time Kenworthy has worked with HSI to help save dogs at risk.

In 2014, the Olympian rescued street dogs during the Sochi Games in Russia and, with HSI’s help, he returned home with them.

Now, following the Pyeongchang Winter Games, Kenworthy plans to repeat the mercy mission. Humane Society International will close the farm and rescue all the dogs in just over a week's time. While most of the dogs will fly to Canada, but the little pup pictured above, now named Beemo, will leave the farm for the first and last time to fly to the United States to live with Gus.


Photo Credit: Lee Jae-Won/AP Images for HSI

Talking about his involvement in the mercy mission, Gus said, “For our little guy, Beemo, the dog meat trade ordeal is over, but it’s horrifying to think that so many dogs just like them are still suffering this fate across South Korea.

"I’m proud to highlight Humane Society International’s amazing dog farm closure campaign because it’s a very practical solution to a highly emotive problem. They’re showing how you can help dog farmers like Mr. Kim and these beautiful dogs at the same time, and I think that’s the key to ending this trade for good."


Photo Credit: Lee Jae-Won/AP Images for HSI

He continued, “Coming to this dog meat farm with HSI has been a real eye-opener. It’s so upsetting to see these dogs in such appalling conditions, many of them crammed four or five to a tiny cage with absolutely no room to move. And yet despite their inhumane conditions, they remain gentle and eager for attention."

Giving farmers a new purpose is saving dogs lives

HSI has worked in South Korea for the past three years and so far permanently closed down 10 dog meat farms. In that time, more than 1,200 dogs have been rescued to date are now in new homes in the United States, Canada and the United Kingdom.


Photo Credit: Lee Jae-Won/AP Images for HSI

The farm closures are a key part of the charity’s broader strategy to demonstrate to the government a working model to phase out the estimated 17,000 dog meat farms across the country.

Participating dog farmers enter a legally binding contract with HSI to close their farms and they work cooperatively with the charity to transition to humane livelihoods such as water delivery or chilli pepper farming.


Photo Credit: Lee Jae-Won/AP Images for HSI

The Gyeonggi-do farmer, who has raised dogs for human consumption for 10 years, will now grow mushrooms.

 

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