8 min read

Dog Rescued From Meat Farm Gets Her Very First Bed

She didn't know what to do with it because she'd never had somewhere warm to sleep.

Harriet arrived at the shelter scared, sad and exhausted. After what she'd been through, it was completely understandable.

Humane Society of Tampa Bay

A little over two weeks ago, the three-year-old Korean Jindo had been stuck in a cramped cage at a dog meat farm in Wonju, South Korea, with about 200 other dogs. Like most dog meat farms in South Korea, the conditions were deplorable.

The dog meat farm in Wonju, South Korea, from which Harriet was rescued | Humane Society International

"They did have shelter from the elements, but they didn't have anything on the sides to keep out the wind and the snow," Nash McCutchen, marketing coordinator for the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, told The Dodo. "They had no soft bedding. All crammed in there. They were basically living in their own filth. Food was thrown in to fatten them up."

The dog meat farm in Wonju, South Korea, from which Harriet was rescued | Humane Society International

If Harriet had stayed there, she and the other dogs would have been killed for their meat, and probably in a horrible, painful way. "They're tortured, and they aren't always dead when they skin them," McCutchen said. "It's a terrible existence."

The dog meat farm in Wonju, South Korea, from which Harriet was rescued | Humane Society International

Luckily for these dogs, a team from Humane Society International (HSI) rescued them earlier this month, and Harriet was put on a plane to San Francisco to start a new life in the U.S. HSI placed Harriet and 13 other dogs with the Humane Society of Tampa Bay, which acts as an emergency partner for HSI.

Harriet was now thousands of miles away from the horrors at the meat farm, but she was still traumatized.

Humane Society of Tampa Bay

"When she first got here, she was pretty despondent and aloof," McCutchen said. "She was interested in humans in that she would look at us, but she didn't initiate any interaction, and she didn't seem to want any interaction for the first several days."

After about a week, Harriet started walking up to the front of her kennel, which McCutchen recognized as a good sign. "Some of the other dogs won't even do that - they just stay back in their kennels, with their backs against the walls," she said.

The staff tried taking Harriet outside into the play yard, but getting her there was not easy. "We had to carry her out, because she didn't know how to walk on a leash," McCutchen said. "None of them do."

Humane Society of Tampa Bay

Harriet also had issues with open space - she didn't seem to know what to do, and just stood there, not moving a muscle, according to McCutchen.

Harriet too afraid to cross the threshold | Humane Society of Tampa Bay

Despite Harriet's issues, the shelter staff refused to give up on her. One day, Leslie Menichino, the shelter's volunteer manager, brought Harriet into the office area to get her away from the stress of the kennel.

Harriet standing in the middle of the room | Humane Society of Tampa Bay

"She just stood in the middle of the office on the blanket that I had laid down," Menichino said. "After a short while I saw her starting to doze off standing up. That is when I grabbed my phone and started filming."

Harriet continued to sleep standing up until Menichino helped her lie down on the fuzzy blanket, which acted as Harriet's very first dog bed.

"We think that when she was on the farm, they were all so tightly packed in that they'd fall asleep standing up, and the others would hold them up," McCutchen explained.

Humane Society of Tampa Bay

Eventually, Harriet settled in and snoozed for a few hours.

Humane Society of Tampa Bay

"Being a witness to it brings to tears to my eyes and such happiness," Menichino said.

Humane Society of Tampa Bay

Harriet still has a long way to go before she's ready to be adopted, but McCutchen said she's making excellent progress.

"Just in the past three days, she's made progress," McCutchen said. "It might just take a little longer than a normal dog."

After Harriet's first nap in a bed, she's enjoyed other firsts as well - for instance, she's eaten treats out of Menichino's hand for the first time, and finally gone on her first leashed walk.

Humane Society of Tampa Bay

"There's still a lot of work to do for her to become comfortable enough for her to go into a home," McCutchen said. "We're just going to take care of her here until that happens."

To help dogs trapped in the dog meat trade in South Korea, you can sign this petition. You can also make a donation to HSI so the group can rescue more dogs like Harriet.

Humane Society of Tampa Bay

While Harriet is not up for adoption just yet, you can find out more about her by contacting the Humane Society of Tampa Bay.