When Canadian figure skater Meagan Duhamel caught on to the Korean dog meat trade, the vegan athlete who’s competing in the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang this month, decided she was going to do something about it. Last year, the two-time world champion pairs skater saved Moo-tae, a dachschund mix who was born into the meat trade, bringing the dog home with her to Montreal. If it weren’t for Duhamel, Moo-tae would have faced the same grisly fate of one of the roughly 2 million dogs raised in poor conditions on Korean dog meat farms.
As the Associated Press reports, local officials did not intend on relocating the many dog farms near Olympic areas. Some smaller animal rights groups have set up rescue systems, getting dogs to safety through the help of volunteers. Meanwhile, organizations such as Human Society International have been advocating to ban the dog meat trade entirely. Moo-tae was adopted through one of the smaller groups, Free Korean Dogs.
The group’s Korean-born founder, EK Park, relocated to Toronto, where she manages adoptions between the two countries. Park worked with Buddhists to rescue Moo-tae, who was living on a monastery before Duhamel adopted him. “He loved to sit with the Buddhas during meditation and yoga,” Duhamel says. “I thought, ‘Oh my God, maybe this dog has some special spiritual energy.’ That was really why I chose him.”
Duhamel and Park hope more athletes will volunteer and accompany the poor puppers on flights back from Korea. Unfortunately, Air Canada planes couldn’t accommodate that many dogs. Just in case you’re interested. Park’s organization takes care a lot of the busywork that comes with adoption, including paperwork, crates for transport, and vaccinations. However, Free Korean Dogs cannot afford to fly the dogs without the volunteer travelers.