Tolerance for dog ownership grows as South Korea’s dog meat appetite dwindles

Tolerance for dog ownership grows as South Korea’s dog meat appetite dwindles

(CNN) - South Korea’s dog meat industry is declining, marked by the closure of its largest slaughterhouse as families embrace canines as pets.

The animals are seemingly now being treated more humanely.

Angun, a 3-year-old poodle, receives her monthly spa.

This is part of a fast-growing business in the country as pet ownership soars. The industry worth $1.4 billion in 2014 is set to quadruple by 2020.

The country is becoming a nation of dog lovers.

“She’s just like me, I take a shower every day and I brush my hair every day so I want her to have the same condition,” said Ahn Da-som, Angum’s owner. “I want her to have good skin condition as well.”

Ahn Da-som is already planning a third spa.

“I wanted to make some place where dogs can really enjoy a nice atmosphere with the nice people,” said Julian Hwang, CEO of BiancoItalia a pet facility.

President Moon Jae-in has also helped the cause.

He adopted a dog from a rescue sanctuary last year, a move widely seen as a message against the country's dog meat industry.

He also received a gift of two dogs from North Korea’s Kim Jong Un after their third summit. The pups that were subsequently born were known across the country as the peace puppies.

Animal rights groups fighting to end the dog meat trade in the country won several landmark victories recently.

The country’s largest slaughterhouse was closed down by authorities in November. Hundreds of thousands of dogs were killed every year by electrocution, according to Humane Society International.

HSI also works with farmers who want to move away from the dog industry, providing financial support.

Nara Kim of HSI said there is no doubt that as dog ownership increases, tolerance for the dog meat trade is falling.

“Once they have pet dogs, they can get more understanding and better understanding and they get more interest about animal welfare,” Kim said.

A survey by Gallup Korea conducted in June 2018 shows that 70 percent of South Koreans say they will not eat dog meat in the future. That's a jump from 44 percent just three years ago.

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