When Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy realized that the dogs he met were going to be sent to one of many Korean meat farms, he knew he had to rescue the furry canines. He found two puppies near the Olympic Village in Sochi, Russia, and even more adorable dogs while touring one of South Korea’s 17,000 canine meat farms.
Because Kenworthy thought it was atrocious for the South Koreans to slaughter dogs and feed them to their people, he wanted to save them. And in a desperate plea on Instagram, he shared pictures of sad-looking dogs locked in cages that he took while touring the killing facility with his boyfriend, actor Matthew Wilkas.
“Across the country, there are 2.5 million dogs being raised for food in some of the most disturbing conditions imaginable. Yes, there is an argument to be made that eating dogs is a part of Korean culture,” the 26-year-old skier wrote. But he was not satisfied with that excuse and detested the conditions the Koreans put their meat-farm dogs through.
“And, while I don’t personally agree with it, I do agree that it’s not my place to impose Western ideals on the people here. The way these animals are being treated, however, is completely inhumane and culture should never be a scapegoat for cruelty.”
Despite the guides telling Matt and Gus that these caged dogs were held in “good condition” compared to the other 16,999 canine meat farms, he was sickened by what he saw.
“The dogs here are malnourished and physically abused, crammed into tiny wire-floored pens, and exposed to the freezing winter elements and scorching summer conditions. When it comes time to put one down it is done in front of the other dogs by means of electrocution, sometimes taking up to 20 agonizing minutes.”
He clarifies: “Despite the beliefs of some, these dogs are no different from the ones we call pets back home.”
Although Kenworthy didn’t take home a medal this year – he was unable to compete after he sustained a broken thumb and a severe hematoma – Kenworthy proved that he was a hero nonetheless by how he helped these dogs.
The Korean meat farm he visited is now being shut down. And he has helped organize 90 dogs to be flown to the United States and Canada, so they are not turned into food. He has partnered with the Humane Society International to rescue these dogs.
“I’m hoping to use this visit as an opportunity to raise awareness to the inhumanity of the dog meat trade here in Korea and the plight of dogs everywhere, including back home in the U.S. where millions of dogs are in need of loving homes! Go to the Humane Society’s page to see how you can help.”
Although he was unable to compete for the gold, Gus Kenworthy proved that he was a hero nonetheless. And during his visit to South Korea for the games, he managed to save the lives of dozens of dogs who otherwise would have been turned into meat.
What do you think about the dog meat trade?