7 min read

96 Dogs Were Just Saved From The Worst Place

"As soon as I walked near, they all cried for relief.”

It was Jenny Kim’s birthday on Wednesday, and she should have been celebrating. Instead she got a phone call from the owner of a puppy mill in Bucheon City, South Korea.

The owner asked Kim, an animal welfare advocate and founder of Passion for Compassion and the newly established Korean Dog Sanctuary, if she wanted to take the 96 dogs living at his property. If she didn’t want them, he was going to sell them to a local slaughterhouse, where the dogs would be killed for their meat, or to make soju elixir, a tonic made from dogs that some South Koreans believe has medicinal qualities.

Dogs in tiny cages in puppy mill in South Korea
A few of the dogs at the puppy farm in Bucheon City, South Korea | Passion for Compassion / Korean Dog Sanctuary

Kim immediately agreed to rescue the dogs — she’d opposed the dog meat trade in South Korea since she was a child.

“I had a puppy when I was a child and one day it disappeared,” Kim told The Dodo. “When I was older, I found out that my grandmother cooked my dog for the Bok Nal festival for my father and grandfather and the men in our family.”

Dogs in tiny cages in puppy mill in South Korea
Passion for Compassion / Korean Dog Sanctuary

Not wanting these 96 dogs to face the same end as her childhood puppy, Kim and a team of volunteers rushed to the puppy farm. When they entered the building, they found Maltese, Shih Tzus, spaniels and poodles stuffed into tiny cages.

Puppy farm dog in tiny cage
Passion for Compassion / Korean Dog Sanctuary

“This was truly heartbreaking,” Kim said. “They were in the dark, cramped in cages, and as soon as I walked near, they all cried for relief.”

Dogs stuffed in tiny cages
Passion for Compassion / Korean Dog Sanctuary

The entire place also reeked of urine, making it difficult to breathe.

“I could smell the stench as I was walking near the farm,” Kim said. “I can smell the urine which burned my eyes and nostrils. It's horrific — cages are stacked on top of each other and feces are everywhere, even on the dogs.”

Dogs in cage at puppy mill
Passion for Compassion / Korean Dog Sanctuary

The rescue team — including Kim and a dog trainer named Mr. Ko — removed all 96 dogs from the property, and transported them to a rented facility nearby.

Woman holding rescued dog
Kim carrying one of the rescued dogs out of the puppy farm | Passion for Compassion / Korean Dog Sanctuary

“She [Kim] said that the moment she opens the cage doors and removes them, there’s a split second when she holds them that they are quiet, as if they know they are being saved,” Sian Davies, a volunteer with Korean Dog Sanctuary, told The Dodo. “She feels an overwhelming sense of relief that she has them and she can finally feel peace for a little while.”

Woman carrying rescued dog outside
Passion for Compassion / Korean Dog Sanctuary

At the rented facility, the dogs were placed in clean, spacious enclosures, and the volunteers made sure that the dogs got plenty of food and water. “We are taking care of these babies,” Kim said.

The next step is getting the dogs veterinary care, but the rescue team is struggling to find the funding.

People caring for dogs in temporary enclosures
The team caring for the rescued dogs in temporary enclosures | Passion for Compassion / Korean Dog Sanctuary

“We will not [fully] know their conditions until they are thoroughly vetted,” Kim said. “Some have leg problems since they were kept in cramped cages. We do not know if they have parvo, heartworms or distemper ... none of the dogs were vaccinated obviously.”

Kim estimates that it will cost $250 to get each dog basic medical care, including vaccinations and spaying and neutering. Testing for parvovirus, distemper, heartworm disease and other issues will cost more.

Passion for Compassion / Korean Dog Sanctuary

When the dogs are healthy enough, they will be transported overseas to find forever homes.

While the rescue team is still in need of donations, they have been overwhelmed by the support they’ve received so far.

Rescued dogs in transport crates
The rescue team has already started taking some of the dogs to the vet, but many more of them need to get there. | Passion for Compassion / Korean Dog Sanctuary

“People have been reaching out to us ... rescue groups, adopters and fosters have all been offering their help, and it’s been an emotional journey for all of us,” Davies said. “It has united many people and many organizations … and we are so thankful for all of these people stepping forward for these dogs and being the voice for the voiceless.”

To help get these 96 dogs the vet care they need, and to help them get placed forever homes, you can make a donation to Korean Dog Sanctuary.