The Richmond SPCA worked recently with Humane Society International in a life-saving effort to rescue 14 dogs from a South Korean dog meat farm and we took those dogs into our care. It is wonderful to watch them blossom under the gentle, loving and professional care of our staff members. We informed our constituents of our life-saving effort through a Facebook post and there were numerous news stories on television that evening and in the Richmond Times-Dispatch the next morning.
An enormous number of our local supporters voiced their immense delight and heartfelt appreciation for what we had done for these dogs who, without us, would have doubtless met a horrible fate in South Korea. The dog meat farm they were in was shut down by Korean government officials. Had that not occurred, these dogs would have been killed for food, and subjected to unimaginable cruelty beforehand since such dogs raised for meat in South Korea are often tortured before they are slaughtered. After the dog meat farm's closure, the rescued dogs were temporarily cared for by a private Korean rescue agency with support from Humane Society International and The Humane Society of the United States. While in that South Korean group's care for a period of several months, they were quarantined and received all appropriate vaccinations and other medical care. We did not pay any of these costs nor did we pay the cost of transportation, all of which was paid for by Humane Society International.
Just a few hours after the news broke of our saving the dogs from South Korea, a group composed largely of breeders and show dog enthusiasts shared our post on their Facebook page and urged their members to go on the attack by posting nasty comments on our Facebook page and on the various news sites. They descended like a swarm of locusts pretending as if they cared about the well-being of homeless animals. I say “pretending” because their group proclaims openly that their purpose is to promote loudly the idea that pets are property and that people who own pets should be free to be able to do anything they wish with and to their property without interference from humane organizations such as ours or from any governmental entity. Their posts argued that we should not be caring for dogs from other countries, stoked groundless fears about the health and behavior of the dogs and even alleged that we were participating in the breeding of dogs in Asia for the purpose of sending them to the U.S.
These miscreants were soon joined by others from other countries. We could establish with just a few mouse clicks that most of these people were in the business of breeding dogs to ship them around the world to buyers – the most selfish and irresponsible kind of opportunist imaginable. They wrote all kinds of things in various media venues that were completely untrue, made up whole cloth in order to cause people to distrust our integrity, to question our use of resources, to fear these dogs and diseases they supposedly would spread. This was all being done by people who have never given a dime to the Richmond SPCA (or probably to any animal welfare organization) and who do nothing themselves whatsoever to save or protect animals. In fact, they were doing all this in order to benefit their businesses which add to the homeless animal issues and cause animals to suffer greatly for the purposes of their own financial gain. It is a massive understatement to say that they have no interest in the well-being of animals. Members of our staff were forced to spend many hours providing accurate information where appropriate, deleting the many nasty and untrue comments and banning the horrible commenters from spamming our page. It consumed time that could have been spent on doing good things for animals.
Saving dogs from the horrors of a dog meat farm is noble and important work in fulfillment of our mission which extends to all animals regardless of geography. While the vast majority of the animals we save are from Virginia shelters, we have long helped to save animals’ lives from natural disasters and from horrific hoarding situations that occur in other parts of the US. We believe that our primary focus must be on saving as many animals as we can with the resources we have and on prioritizing those who need us the most and where we can make a lasting difference. It is clear that we are helping in the work in South Korea that is bringing to an end the horrific abuses of dog meat farms.
So, let me speak directly to those trolls:
You will not be allowed to post anything on any means of communication that is within our control. More importantly, you will never alter or affect in any way our decisions about where and how we will save animals’ lives. You are not our supporters and you are not supporters of animal welfare. We will continue to save every animal we possibly can wherever we can and your xenophobia arising from your greed will not be a factor in our decisions. We see you for what you are – people who are looking out for nothing but their own financial gain at the cost of much suffering on the part of defenseless animals. You should be ashamed of yourselves.
And, now, let me speak to our wonderful supporters:
We appreciate deeply the support for this effort that you have expressed and I know that together we share the sincere belief that every animal’s life is precious. Every one. That means that we will save every single animal that our resources will allow. Our goal is to maximize the use of the resources that you so generously give us to save the lives and reduce the suffering of as many animals as possible. In this particular instance, these Korean dogs desperately needed us to take them in and the costs of our doing so did not fall on us. Most of our life saving occurs here in our own community and across Virginia. It could never happen without your support. From time to time we are called upon to save animals in need elsewhere, sometimes due to a natural disaster and sometimes because we can help in shutting down the Korean dog meat trade or other reason. We will hear those calls and will be able to respond to them thanks to you. We are eternally grateful and so are the animals.
Robin Robertson Starr is the chief executive officer of the Richmond SPCA. To read the biographies of our regular bloggers, please click here. Before posting a comment, please review our comment guidelines. Please note that our comment policy requires a first and last name to be used as your screen name.