As countries start to celebrate their first gold medals of the 2018 Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea, many athletes and sports fans from around the would are also using the event to speak out against the host country’s dog meat trade.
Close to 2 million dogs are slaughtered at South Korea’s 17,000 dog meat farms every year, surviving horrible conditions and abuse until they are killed. CNN anchor Randi Kaye is one of the countless animal lovers who wants to see the dog meat farms of Korea shut down and replaced with humane businesses.
Kaye started this fight by saving one dog, her own 2-year-old golden retriever Gatsby, who was shipped to her from South Korea by the rescue Golden Retrievals. After seeing how much the terrorized canine changed once he was exposed to the love and care she had to offer, Kaye went to work helping the thousands of other dogs caught in this cruel trade, raising awareness through online articles and televised rescue missions.
“I can’t believe what his fate could’ve been,” Kaye told PEOPLE about Gatsby’s transformation. “He really is a big baby now, such a love bug.”
The anchor recently collaborated with CNN International to create and air a special before the Winter Olympics that shows the conditions inside one of South Korea’s numerous dog meat farms. Over 170 dogs were rescued from the farm shown in the show, going on to find devoted forever families across the United States and the United Kingdom.
Unfortunately, America is not completely innocent when it comes to gruesome realities of the dog meat trade. While South Korea is the only country with dog meat farms, in America it is still legal to raise and sell dogs for consumption in 44 states.
Kaye says, through her experience in the fight to end dog meat sales, she doesn’t believe canines are actively being sold for consumption in all 44 of those states, but it is happening in some. She says that a recent raid on an unlicensed kennel near Philadelphia recently uncovered 150 dogs that were being raised to be sent to private individuals for their meat.
In an effort to amend this outdated portion of the Animal Welfare Act, Florida congressman Alcee L. Hastings has sponsored bill HR1406, also known as the Dog and Cat Meat Trade Prohibition Act. If the bill, which has bipartisan support, passes, it will become illegal to raise dogs and cats for the their meat and to sell cat and dog skins and meat.
Kaye is hopeful this measure will pass and that South Korea’s dog meat trade can change, too.
“The president, Moon Jae-in, just adopted a meat dog as a pet,” the vegan anchor explains of the progress she has seen in the country. “He himself if trying to send a message.”
Along with the president, many younger South Koreans are opting to adopt and care for dog meat canines and urging their elders to abandon dog meat farming for other businesses.
For those wanting to support the efforts to end the dog meat trade, Kaye encourages them to speak out and to think about rescuing their own dog from South Korea — a decision she hopes many Olympians will consider as well.