Changing Lives: Overcoming Fear and Learning Love
When CFAF closes dog farms in South Korea, there is sometimes an untold part of the story that is just as amazing as the rescue itself. These dogs are rehomed by incredible people who make a huge investment by opening their hearts and homes. Because these dogs have never been shown affection before, their new owners have required unlimited patience, compassion and unconditional love.
Many of the rescued dogs have endured severe trauma, both physical and psychological. They had spent every day of their lives in small, dirty and barren cages, bored, hungry and terrified. Most will have seen their cage mates being taken out for slaughter. And they sat there, every day, waiting for their turn to come. It is heartbreaking to contemplate what they have been through.
CFAF would like to say a HUGE thank you to the shelters that provided such amazing care when our very special Korean dogs arrived in America. And, even more so, we would like to thank those who have given the rescued dogs a second chance at true happiness.
Below are a few of the beautiful individual stories of the dogs who were saved from the dog meat industry and found their forever home. We share this in honour of all those animals for whom we are continuing to fight for…
Luna and David
Luna was rescued from CFAF’s first dog farm closure in Ilsan in January 2015. She was the first dog to be adopted from the group of 23 we saved.
Adopted by David, Northern Virgina. This is his story…
"I was thinking of getting a second dog so was keeping my eye out for the right one. I'd fostered and bordered dogs, so knew I could manage one more in my home, and my dog would enjoy that. When I saw on the local news about the 23 dogs coming from a Korean meat farm in January 2015, it brought me back to when I had vacationed in Korea as a young teenager with my family. I'd seen dogs being sold in cages on the street, but didn't know what they were there for until told later.
I of course was drawn in with the media attention surrounding "Snowball", a fluffy white Jindo puppy bursting with energy. But knowing I would rather bring a female into my home with my male dog I read up about the others. I was drawn towards Rocky and the other one that had gone to the Fairfax County Animal Shelter, another white Jindo, but female. When the post came out on Facebook that they were ready to be viewed and available for adoption I immediately left work and drove through a heavy snowfall determined to be the first at the shelter. Turns out I was there before it even opened and I still wasn't the first in line. When I got in I saw the white Jindo first in her pen. She was up at the front, seemed happy go lucky, and I didn't have the feeling she'd have trouble adapting to her new life. I felt with my background and experience with dogs, and having only another well trained dog at home, I could better help Rocky (by that point renamed Rhonda by the shelter) who was in the next pen over.
She was at the back laying on her bed just wanting to be invisible. She wasn't eager to meet anyone and very shy. I had her brought into a meeting room where I could sit on the floor with her. I spent about 15 minutes with her but wasn't able to touch her once. She didn't interact with me in the least bit, but rather paced around the room giving furtive looks at the door and window. We put her back in her pen and I knew she'd need lots of work. Someone with time, patience, and experience. I then went to put in an application for her. The shelter was accepting five applications for each dog and would make the determination who would be able to provide the best home. Two days later I was told to come bring my dog for a meet and greet with her and if that went well I could take her home then and there. Well it all went well and she came home on what has become her new birthday. I renamed her Luna. I'm a huge Harry Potter fan, so Luna after Luna Lovegood went well with my other dog’s name, Sirius Black. Right away Luna took to my dog. She was wary of me and it took a couple weeks of work before she accepted me, indicated by her licking my hand. With Sirius she trusted him and also deferred to him and even mimicked his behaviors and training; which made it much easier to train her. The thing about Luna is while she is afraid of things, she doesn't give into it. She doesn't want to be scared. She startles easily, but recovers just as quickly. She is a smart dog. I've taught her basic skills like sit, down, come, and back-up. She's also learned to swim and fetch. I can have her off leash on hikes and can call her back to be re-leashed.
Luna and Sirius get along great with each other. He's twice her size but she holds her own when playing with him. She's a scrappy little girl. She has fit into my lifestyle perfectly. We all go canoeing, and long hikes with other people and their dogs and to the shore of the Potomac River for swims. I've also brought her with me to work and even to several of Sirius' therapy dog visits where a few kids have read books to her. I'm very glad to have helped her. She brings a lot of happiness into my home. Watching her gain her confidence and being happy and safe is rewarding. She is also a great ambassador for showing that meat dogs can be so much more than just a meal. We've participated in several interviews where I have been able to talk about her and ending the dog meat trade, and I have an Instagram set up where people from around the world have been able to witness and celebrate her life. I would love to turn Luna into a therapy dog herself, but she still has a way to go. But even if all she ever becomes is a good, happy dog that has a long, cared for life, that's all I really truly want for her.”
Luna on the dog farm in Ilsan, South Korea
Luna on the dog farm in Ilsan, South Korea
Luna is now enjoying a life of freedom and love with David and Sirius
Lola and Liz
Lola was rescued from CFAF’s second dog farm closure in Hongseong in March 2015. Lola’s breed is considered as a ‘meat dog’ in South Korea. This title meant that she was afforded no respect – she was bred to be killed for her meat
Today, Lola is living with her adopter Liz in California, light years away from the dog farm on which she was born. As Liz writes:
“I am the owner of Lola the Tosa Mastiff from farm #2 closure.... She was 1 of 57 dogs brought to the US. I adopted her in April 2015 from the Marine Humane Society with my parents. She is doing well and has adjusted to a "plush" life!
She loves to walk along our downtown neighborhood and see everyone, she loves pets and scratches on her head (she was terrified of people touching her head before).... She is an essential part of our family now. She has learned to open doors for me and even alert me when I’m about to collapse in pain (I’m a crohns patient). We plan on certifying her as a service animal next summer.”
Lola in her barren cage on a dog farm in Hongseong
Lola is now enjoying the comforts of life with her new family
Milo and Sharaun
Milo was rescued from CFAF’s second dog farm closure in Hongseong in March 2015. He was found sharing a small, dirty cage with his mum and sister.
This is Milo and Sharaun’s story:
“When I heard the news about the 57 rescues from Korea, I felt compelled to help. I had just, a couple of months before, laid to rest our Jordan, also a rescue, after having had him for 12 years. I filled out the application and sent it off thinking I didn't have a chance because the interest in these dogs was high - a good thing. Then, after a couple of months, the calls came from Marin Humane Society, first one, then another, then finally I was invited to go and meet "Kayden."
His attentions were very scattered in the yard at the Marin Humane Society, but he readily accepted treats from me. He was very skittish, and I couldn't touch him at all.....my heart was beginning to melt and I wondered if he would be happy living with me, my husband and our Zoey.
Go forward 6 months and what a completely different dog. Happy, playful, and VERY intelligent. The joy Milo has brought to our home, the way he was able to fill a void left by Jordan's passing, I have to say he rescued me. It gave me joy the day I could pick him up in my arms to show him love and he didn't struggle to get away. Or the time he pushed his head into me so that I could just hug and hold him for a couple minutes, like he was saying thanks and showing his love.
A couple of months before we brought Milo home, we had rescued a 7 pound 1 year old chihuahua female - Zoey. They are best buds, playing chase, tussling over toys, and taking over the couch when it's nap time.
Since Dawn Kovell was the Behaviorist who worked with him immediately after being brought to Marin County, I wanted Milo to continue his big boy training with her. She just LOVES seeing him on class day and Milo in return, remembers her and reciprocates his joy at seeing her with his wiggly waggedy tail and body language. Milo is very intelligent, picking up the concepts of his training quickly, but his attention span is short, so when he's finished, he's finished - class over!
I thank you CFAF, and all your wonderful team, for helping to open my eyes to the horrific dog meat farm practice, and for helping to bring joy on four paws back into our home. Know that you are not alone in your fight.... I'm right there with you every step of the way.”
Milo on the farm with his mum and sister
Milo is now an adored member of the family, with life on the farm being a distant memory
Minnow and Abbie
Minnow was rescued from CFAF’s first dog farm closure in Ilsan in January 2015. She was so ready to love and be loved from the first moment we met her. Here is Minnow’s story in Abbie’s words:
“I work at the Animal Welfare League of Alexandria and in December 2014 we were contacted by Adam Parascandola about a group of dogs that Humane Society International and Change for Animals Foundation were rescuing from a dog meat farm in South Korea. We quickly agreed that we wanted to help.
The dogs arrived in two groups, one group on January 5th and the second on the 6th. On the morning of the 5th, Adam sent info about the twelve dogs arriving that night. He did the same on the 6th.
I'm going to back track a little before I go on...
On the night of January 4th I went to my mom's house for dinner. I was feeling the loss of my last two dogs. It had been 3 years and it was still tearing me apart. My mom gently said, "Maybe it's time to get another dog." For the first time since I lost them, her words felt right. I allowed myself to think about getting another dog and we talked about what that might entail. I have 4 birds and I wanted a dog who could peacefully live with my birds. I've always had terriers and I find them irresistible. The problem is many terriers think birds are prey. Though I've never adopted a puppy before, I decided it might be a factor to consider. I could socialize a puppy to my birds. The other detail: scruffiness! I have a "thing" for scruffy dogs. Scruffy terrier puppies don't come in to animal shelters often so I decided that if it happened, then it was meant to be - whether that was in a few months or in a few years.
On January 6th I got an email from Adam about the second group of dogs coming in that night. One dog stood out immediately, "Rusty: Rusty is the shaggy terrier pup who is male. He is totally adorable and a complete love bug." A part of me knew this was my dog. Another part of me knew I had 11 dogs to help that night and my job was to focus on them, not on myself.
The day unfolded and the dogs arrived around 7pm. Staff and volunteers went to work getting the second group of dogs settled in their kennels. I forgot about Rusty until finally it was time to pull the last dog out of his travel kennel. It was Rusty. I wish I could give you more detail, but I have too much emotion wrapped around the memory. Words just won't do it.
It turns out Rusty was a “she”. I fell in love that night and I didn't sleep a wink thinking of her at the shelter. There is a little something more to our story that pre-dates this night...
I adopted my first dog, Emmy from the Washington Animal Rescue League. I had just lost my Cairn terrier, Toto and grief had its way with me until I couldn't stand to be without a dog. I found Emmy on WARL's website and drove to DC the next day to adopt her. She changed my life. I was teaching children with autism when I adopted Emmy, but after my adoption experience, I knew I wanted to work in animal welfare. I had been a vegetarian (now vegan) and an animal welfare advocate since I was a young teenager. Emmy helped me find my calling. Less than a year later I left my job and started working at an animal shelter. I loved Emmy and I was devoted to her.
Years later, when Emmy died, I spread her ashes in a stream on our favorite trail. It was one of our spots. After, I would go and sit in that spot when I needed to be extra close to Emmy. I believe animals have souls and her spirit lived on. When we connected at the stream, I saw all the life that flourished around it: little seedlings, spouting leaves, birds, deer, frogs and minnows. I felt Emmy's spirit in all of that life.
When I went back to Rusty the day after she came, I named her Minnow. At the time, I didn't know why I named her Minnow, but couldn't leave the name and nothing else was right. Now I see the connection and I know Emmy's spirit had something to do with it. Minnow is in honor of the stream where her ashes were spread and the life that comes from it.
Minnow is one of the happiest dogs I have ever known. She loves living life. She finds joy in it all and she makes friends with the people she meets and all types of animals. She loves exploring trails and going on adventures. One of her very favorite things to do is to wade in the streams that we find.
I’ve done some research and it looks like Minnow is a Korean Sapsaree. They are described as having a gentle nature; friendly and loyal to people and other animals. And, my favorite description, “Their work is spiritual rather than physical.”
Minnow lives with me, my 4 birds and 2 gerbils. She is sweet and loving with all of them. She has helped me foster cats and unweaned kittens. She goes to work with me every day and plays with lots of other animals, from dogs to a pig! She welcomes visitors to the shelter and I tell them her story.
Perhaps some may doubt this, but I know Emmy's spirit was watching over Minnow and her dog friends in South Korea. I am so grateful for Adam and Humane Society International, Lola and Change for Animals Foundation. They did more than save the lives of the dogs on this farm. They changed my life too. Minnow reminds me to love life and to work hard for animal welfare. At the end of a long day, she licks my face and I know she is telling me to never give up.
Thank you, CFAF for not giving up on the dogs living in meat farms. Thank you for saving Minnow's life. You are a hero to me and to Minnow!”
Minnow at Incheon airport ready to board her flight to the US
The first time Abbie and Minnow met
Minnow loving her new life
Katie and Sunshine Lola
Sunshine was rescued from CFAF’s second dog farm closure in Hongseong in March 2015. Since being adopted by Katie, she has become a beautiful ambassador for our anti dog meat campaign. You can follow Sunshine’s adventures on her Facebook page.
In Katie’s words, here is their story…
Sunshine. Where do I begin trying to explain what she means to my husband and me? Sunshine is our family. She is EVERYTHING to me.
Every morning my husband & I wake up with Sunshine in our bed stretched out between us or often times she is greeting Kyle with a kiss on the face & an enthusiastic wagging tail to start the day off with a smile before we've even opened our eyes. She is the embodiment of pure love with the spirit of joy and happiness exuding from her sweet personality.
I am so genuinely thankful to have her in my life & I consider myself extremely lucky to have her in our home.
When our last dog passed away suddenly prematurely, I was obliterated from not being able to save his life and completely grief stricken. I could not imagine life without him because I considered him to be a supreme being that I was honored to spend 9 years with. For a year and a half, I was too sad to even think about adopting another dog. Finally my husband & I were ready to invite a new dog into our lives, but our property manager changed our rental agreement to 'no dogs' without explanation. This happened in the midst of the San Francisco housing crisis where it is nearly impossible to find an affordable dog-friendly rental. I searched for 18 months. Some days I was so frustrated and angry that we had to move and pay a premium just for the privilege of having a dog. I held on tightly to the hope and belief that maybe our next dog hadn't been born yet. I tried to be optimistic in believing that there was a plan that I was not yet able to see and everything was working out as it was meant to be.
Imagine my surprise when we finally moved after 1.5 years of searching, unpacked & 2 wks later, an email from the Humane Society International landed in my inbox announcing the arrival of 57 dogs from a South Korean dog meat farm that would be available for adoption at the San Francisco SPCA. I hit play on the YouTube video sharing their story at the dog meat farm and I immediately started crying because I knew in my heart that one of these dogs was who I'd been waiting for. This was why I couldn't find a dog friendly rental for 1.5 years. One of the Korean dog meat farm ambassador pups was meant for our family.
I knew that our next dog was going to be special, but I didn't know what kind of dog that would be. All I knew for sure was that we would adopt. We were not attached to any type nor breed, but felt as though the right dog would find us. I had planned on going to the SF SPCA because I am sentimental towards them since that is where we adopted our 2 previous dogs.
I am on the HSUS & HSI email lists because they are my favorite animal advocacy groups that promote the well being of all animals. I have followed and supported their work for years. My husband & I attended their occasional meetings hosted at the SF SPCA, always trying to learn as much as possible and wanting to find a way to contribute. To have my animal heroes offering me a puppy at my favorite shelter felt beyond coincidental and borderline surreal.
I have been a vegan for ~4 years and a vegetarian for 20+ years prior. This choice has become a reflection of my core values that represent who I am. I read Melanie Joy's book "Why We Love Dogs, Eat Pigs & Wear Cows" years ago. People in the U.S. understand not wanting to eat a cat or dog so easily. My hope is that Sunshine may help people bridge the logic gap and eventually become vegan too when they are ready. I have read about dogs being eaten in other countries but felt so frustrated by the issue; not knowing what I could do to help a world away beyond signing a petition and making a donation. I had absolutely no idea that by making a donation to HSUS & HSI last year, I was helping buy our next dog's ticket to freedom.
Suddenly a puppy representing my sentimental shelter of choice, favorite animal advocacy groups & core values was being presented to me as a new family member. Without the prognosis of illness (thank goodness), Sunshine is my idealized version of "Make A Wish." She has been the gift of a lifetime, literately and figuratively. For the rest of my life, no one will ever be able to give me a gift as meaningful as Sunshine.
I did my research on Jindo behavior when I saw the puppies in the HSI YouTube video. I know that you are supposed to chose a dog based on behavior and temperament vs appearance; it was a match. It didn't hurt that the Jindos are adorable and look like fluffy little teddy bears as puppies.
When I went to the SF SPCA the morning they announced her availability, I was the 1st person in line after spending a week of compulsively checking their website all day, every day, for over a week. They posted her name, breed, gender & age with an outline silhouette of a dog, but no photo yet. When I was sitting in front of the SF SPCA before they had even opened, I hit refresh on my phone. The first time I saw Sunshine's picture, I started crying because she was so cute & I was so hopeful to have her in our family. I loved her before I even met her. Luckily she was the only pup available that day so I didn't have to chose which one to take home.
The rest is history. She has brought so much love, joy and happiness into our home and hearts over the last 9 months. I shape my day around her health and wellness needs and I feel extremely fortunate to be able to do so.
I was worried that I would compare our new dog to our last dog before I met Sunshine. Now I know that she is uniquely special and remarkable in her own way. There is no comparison, but a one of a kind love for her intelligence, personality and humor. She is a goof ball and makes me laugh all the time. I look at her and feel overwhelming gratitude.
Sunshine has introduced me to so many kind people, including my heroes at HSUS & HSI. This includes Lola at CFAF, which is Sunshine's middle namesake after the woman who implemented the plan to shut down the dog meat farms & saved her life.
Sunshine has given my life more purpose and direction. I want to help other dogs in S. Korea meat farms that have not been as lucky as Sunshine has been as an ambassador. I am trying to keep her story alive via social media in hopes that when people hear her close call with torture & slaughter, they will be motivated to donate in order to help save more lives and end the trade.
Sunshine is my teacher. I am still trying to figure out what I can do to help save more lives. At one of the HSUS / SF SPCA meetings, Jennifer Fearing advised people in the audience to take the initiative to do what we can to help animals. Don't wait for an assignment or call the HSUS asking what to do. Ask yourself what needs to be done and take action. That is what I'm trying to do with her social media SunshineMyLiveInTheSunshine. I want to be of service to all of the dogs left behind at the meat farms and help my heroes with their mission to end the dog meat trade forever. Because of Sunshine, I will use my energy for the rest of my life to help other dogs in whatever shape or form I am able to until the day I die.
Every night, Sunshine hops up on the bed between my husband and me. We tell her we love her as we all fall asleep together. I hold her fluffy tail or a paw if I can reach one. Jindos have a long life expectancy. I savor every day but hope that I have as many days as possible with this beautiful girl that makes life so much better with her in it.
A heartfelt "Thank you" to every single one of you who played a part in bringing Sunshine into our lives.
Jack and Omar
Jack was rescued from CFAF’s second dog farm closure in Hongseong in March 2015.
When we first met Jack, he was cold, scared and hungry… But despite all of this, every time we visited the farm to negotiate it’s closure, Jack would come up to the bars, desperate for a gentle hand, and we would whisper promises of better days… “Just hold on a little bit longer…”
We were delighted when Jacks’ adopter in California, Omar, sent the video below about Jack’s journey to freedom and happiness, told in Omar’s young daughter’s words.
Please take a few moments to watch and find out just how much Jack’s life has changed and to see him live the life of love and freedom he was promised all those months ago on a dog meat farm in South Korea.