Dog Farming

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If you’re the sort that makes knee-jerk emotional reactions you may not want to read any further.

It seems the Korean dog meat trade has come to light again.

I lived in Korea for 2 years as a missionary for the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1995-1997. I lived there for another year as an English teacher. My wife is from Korea.

I’ve eaten dog meat. It is really, really good. Imagine a spectrum of meat flavor from chicken to pork to beef. Beyond beef is dog meat. It is a beefier beef. It is so beefy you can’t eat it like a steak, but only little strips in a strong soup. It’s also incredibly tough.

Koreans believe food is medicine, and they believe that dog meat helps in the healing process after surgery. It also helps for other things, such as surviving the heat of their humid summers and more. Elderly people eat dog meat to live longer and be healthier. They don’t eat it every day, maybe once or twice a year, and not everyone does, but those who do swear by it.

I volunteered to work on a dog farm. The owner was a member of the church. He kept the dog breed that Koreans use for meat. This is a breed you have never seen before unless you are reading articles about Korean dog meat. He kept at least a hundred of these dogs in large cages. The reason why is the dogs fight with each other and they will kill each another if you don’t. Dogs are not cows. Every day, he cleans the cages, feeds the dogs leftover meat trimmings and such, and otherwise pampers them as much as you’d expect a cow or a pig or a chicken to be pampered.  Since I grew up with dogs, I could tell whether they were being abused or whether they were happy. The dogs were always happy to see the farmer, and he treated them as you’d expect a dog to be treated. No, he didn’t have time to play catch with them, but they weren’t trained to fight or hurt humans or anything like that.

Seeing other Koreans raise dogs as pets, I can state unequivocally that the dogs on his farm had it pretty lucky. As a culture, Koreans really don’t understand dogs. My father-in-law kept a pet dog as a guard dog on his farm and he kept it tied to a 10′ rope. I’m not even sure he built a shed for it, and the dog certainly wasn’t trained except to bark at strangers. I’ve seen Korean women in the cities treat toy dogs even worse. Those poor things are so frightened living in a purse that they snap at anything.

Koreans also don’t overfeed dogs. Their dogs are generally skinnier than American dogs. They know that dogs will eat themselves to death if given the chance, and that dogs are healthier when they have only a little fat on them. American dogs are overfed and fat by comparison.

Americans have a completely different dog culture. Maybe it’s our German heritage, I don’t know. We treat dogs like people. We elevate them way above other animals, using them in ways we wouldn’t imagine using other animals. But let’s be honest with ourselves: Dogs are not people. Dogs are animals, pack animals that if you leave in the wild are just miniature wolves. I had to explain to my kids who knew dogs what wolves were and why we don’t call wolves dogs, even though they are the same species. Basically, imagine a sick, evil dog on steroids that will kill you without warning. That’s a wolf. As Americans, we don’t understand that dogs are animals. Koreans do. Dogs are like pigs are like chickens are like bears are like cows are like all animals: non-human creatures who would eat you if they had the chance.

The people who want to ban dog meat come from two varieties.

One variety is horribly misinformed. They are told all sorts of stories and imagine Koreans eating chihuahuas or poodles. If you’re this sort, you should get informed on the issue before you jump to conclusions.

The other variety are against the meat trade, period. “Cows are people too!” types. These people are just plain idiotic, but for a different reason.

Anyway, before you go knocking another culture, you owe it to them to first understand that culture. You may not like what they do, but at least you should understand what they do and why they do it.

Dog meat saves lives. It helps elderly people live longer. It helps people recover from blood loss and surgery. Food is medicine to Koreans, and they have a very long history of being really good with medicine.

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