US Olympic skier rescues puppy from former dog meat farm in South Korea, sparks debate

US Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy (right) shared a photo of the puppy named Beemo he rescued from the farm.
US Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy (right) shared a photo of the puppy named Beemo he rescued from the farm.PHOTO: INSTAGRAM/ GUS KENWORTHY

When an American rescues a puppy from a dog meat farm in Asia, is it a compassionate gesture or is he imposing Western ideals on other cultures?

US Olympic skier Gus Kenworthy has sparked a debate on the issue after he adopted a puppy from a dog meat farm in South Korea, where the Winter Olympic Games are being held.

In an Instagram post last Saturday (Feb 24), the 26-year-old athlete shared a photo of the puppy named Beemo he rescued from the farm, along with shots of the farm and some of the 90 other dogs living there.

In the caption, Kenworthy said the visit to the farm was "heart-wrenching" and added that there are 2.5 million dogs being raised for food across South Korea in "some of the most disturbing conditions imaginable".

According to him, the farm that he visited will be shut down, with animal advocacy group Humane Society International finding homes for the dogs.

Kenworthy said while it can be argued that eating dogs is a part of Korean culture, he does not personally agree with it but realises 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," he wrote.

This morning Matt and I had a heart-wrenching visit to one of the 17,000 dog farms here in South Korea. 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. And, while 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. I was told that the dogs on this particular farm were kept in "good conditions" by comparison to other farms. 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 so in front of the other dogs by means of electrocution sometimes taking up to 20 agonizing minutes. Despite the beliefs of some, these dogs are no different from the ones we call pets back home. Some of them were even pets at one time and were stolen or found and sold into the dog meat trade. Luckily, this particular farm (thanks to the hard work of the Humane Society International and the cooperation of a farmer who's seen the error of his ways) is being permanently shut down and all 90 of the dogs here will be brought to the US and Canada where they'll find their fur-ever homes. I adopted the sweet baby in the first pic (we named her Beemo) and she'll be coming to the US to live with me as soon as she's through with her vaccinations in a short couple of weeks. I cannot wait to give her the best life possible! There are still millions of dogs here in need of help though (like the Great Pyrenees in the 2nd pic who was truly the sweetest dog ever). I'm hoping to use this visit as an opportunity to raise awareness to the inhumanity of the dog meat trade and the plight of dogs everywhere, including back home in the US where millions of dogs are in need of loving homes! Go to @hsiglobal's page to see how you can help. #dogsarefriendsnotfood #adoptdontshop ❤️🐶

This morning Matt and I had a heart-wrenching visit to one of the 17,000 dog farms here in South Korea. 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. And, while 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. I was told that the dogs on this particular farm were kept in "good conditions" by comparison to other farms. 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 so in front of the other dogs by means of electrocution sometimes taking up to 20 agonizing minutes. Despite the beliefs of some, these dogs are no different from the ones we call pets back home. Some of them were even pets at one time and were stolen or found and sold into the dog meat trade. Luckily, this particular farm (thanks to the hard work of the Humane Society International and the cooperation of a farmer who's seen the error of his ways) is being permanently shut down and all 90 of the dogs here will be brought to the US and Canada where they'll find their fur-ever homes. I adopted the sweet baby in the first pic (we named her Beemo) and she'll be coming to the US to live with me as soon as she's through with her vaccinations in a short couple of weeks. I cannot wait to give her the best life possible! There are still millions of dogs here in need of help though (like the Great Pyrenees in the 2nd pic who was truly the sweetest dog ever). I'm hoping to use this visit as an opportunity to raise awareness to the inhumanity of the dog meat trade and the plight of dogs everywhere, including back home in the US where millions of dogs are in need of loving homes! Go to @hsiglobal's page to see how you can help. #dogsarefriendsnotfood #adoptdontshop ❤️🐶

A post shared by gus kenworthy (@guskenworthy) on

He added that he hopes his visit will help raise awareness on the "inhumanity of the dog meat trade and the plight of dogs everywhere".

However, some netizens were not pleased about Kenworthy's Instagram post, which was also shared on his Twitter account.

In his reply to Kenworthy on Twitter, journalist Joon Lee said most Koreans do not eat dogs and are against the practice, especially young people.

Lee also accused Kenworthy of double standards, noting that "9 billion chickens are killed every year vs. 30 million dogs in Asian countries".

 

Other netizens also criticised Kenworthy for not trying to "fix something in the US at least". One user tweeted: "Plenty of wrong right here in the USA for him to see..."

But some stood up for the Olympian, saying: "Why do you have to be so negative? He is trying to help and make a difference where he sees something wrong."

This is not the first time that the Olympian has rescued dogs while competing overseas.

In 2014, during the Sochi Winter Olympics, Kenworthy brought a stray dog and her four puppies back to the US with him.

He ended up adopting two of the dogs, Jake and Mishka, who have since become Instagram stars with their own account on the social media platform.