The Winter Olympics have officially started but issues of animal cruelty have surfaced in South Korea. As the Las Vegas Sun reports, Canadian figure skater Meagan Duhamel is going for a gold medal but off the rink, the skater is becoming known for her work saving dogs from the dog meat trade in South Korea.
Duhamel is a vegan and animal lover. Last year, she rescued a dog named Moo-tae from a dog meat farm. The 2-year-old has been living with her in Montreal since then. "He's like a saint," she says of her pet.
Approximately 2 million dogs each year are raised on Korean dog meat farms. The conditions are often bad at these farms, including the dogs put in cages or left without food or water. The dogs are killed and sold for meat, often used for a traditional soup.
With the Olympics in South Korea, dog meat has come into the global forefront. Athletes and visitors to Pyeongchang for the Olympics may still see the practice. The government did offer aid for restaurants if they stopped selling dog meat but some restaurant owners say that it's hard. "I have been selling dog meat for decades. It is really difficult for me to change my menu just because of the Olympics," said Park Young-ae who owns Young Hoon Restaurant.
“It is just sad because when the world is watching the Olympics little is known or spoken about the (Korean dog meat trade),” Duhamel told USA TODAY Sports. ”There are hundreds of dog meat farms tucked away and nobody is talking about this. The buzz will be about the Olympics.”
The practice of eating dogs is not new in Korea but it has reportedly decreased in recent years. Some major dog meat stores have been closed. In fact, President Moon Jae made a campaign promise to adopt a rescue dog if he won last year's presidential election, which he did. The four-year-old black mixed breed is known as the "First Dog."
As for Duhamel, she loves having her rescue pup. "He loved to sit with the Buddhas during meditation and yoga," said Duhamel. "I thought, 'Oh my God, maybe this dog has some special spiritual energy.' That was really why I chose him."
Duhamel adopted her pup through an organization called Free Korean Dogs, founded by EK Park, who was born in South Korea but lives in Canada. A few months after Duhamel adopted her dog, her parents also adopted one through the organization. Duhamel is hoping other athletes will follow suit.
[Photo: Getty Images]