MADISON, N.J. — A large group of dogs that had been bred in South Korea to be eaten has not only been rescued, they've begun arriving at their new, temporary home in New Jersey.
They'll remain there until new, permanent homes can be found for them here in the Tri-State.
PIX11 first reported last month that the Humane Society and the Animal House Project were looking for a place to house all of the animals in the dog airlift.
Since then, St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center here has stepped up as a first destination for the animals.
170 dogs are headed to the Northeast U.S. after being rescued from a dog meat farm in Wonju, South Korea. They're being flown to Newark Liberty airport in groups of about a dozen or so every evening for two weeks, with the first group having arrived Tuesday evening.
The clean, comfortable, climate controlled conditions in which they're now kept in New Jersey contrast starkly with those in which the canines had spent their entire lives prior to this week.
On the meat farm, conditions were horrendous. The dogs were confined to metal cages, with floors that were also made of metal cage bars.
"When I was there, [the temperature] was single digits," said Kelly O'Meara, director of companion animals at Humane Society International. "We all know what it's like to touch metal when it's cold," she said in an interview, "so imagine living on that day in and day out."
O'Meara was one of the rescuers at the farm that breeds the dogs to be the main ingredient in a traditional Korean holiday stew. Rescuers told PIX11 News that meat dogs are, in South Korean culture, considered to be different than house pets.
O'Meara, holding a soft white mixed breed in her arms, said that one of the reasons for the Humane Society's dog farm rescue is to change that perception, and in the process help to end the practice of dog meat breeding.
"Many farmers work with us," O'Meara told PIX11 News. "They want out of this industry."
"We provide seed funding," she continued, "to let them get out, and we follow up to make sure they stay out of the business."
In total, 250 dogs were rescued from the farm in Wonju. Of them, 170 will be relocated to the Northeast U.S., and of that number, St. Hubert's Animal Welfare Center is taking 120.
"We anticipate being able to start adoptions in about two weeks," said Heather Cammisa, CEO and president of St. Hubert's.
Anybody interested in adopting can find information at St. Hubert's website http://www.sthuberts.org/southkoreadogs.