Many Asian countries still eat dog meat as a common meal, despite efforts to end the practice. It's a controversial topic, with some saying that it is a cultural tradition which should not be looked down on. Others say it's inhumane to eat creatures that we value so much.
Not all Asian countries still partake, with Taiwan implementing a law that prohibits the consumption of cats and dogs. The law was included as an amendment to a previous law introduced in 2011, which prohibited the sale of dog meat. The new law means fines of between $1380 USD and $7000 USD. Repeat offenders are subjected to "public shaming" and a fine of up to $138,000 USD. The new law also makes it illegal to "walk" your dog by having them run beside your car or scooter, as it led to too many injuries in the dogs.
However, countries like South Korea still consume dog meat on a daily basis, and it became a big topic of conversation as the Olympics drew closer. Almost two million dogs each year are bred on dog meat farms for human consumption. PyeongChang officials asked that the 12 restaurants that serve dog meat in the city change their menus while the games are on in order to avoid bad press. Not everyone has complied, however.
“We’ve faced a lot of complaints from restaurant operators that we are threatening their livelihood,” county official Lee Yong-bae told AFP. “Some of them initially shifted to selling pork or things instead of dog meat only to find their sales plunging sharply. They then switched back to dog meat.”
Many animal activists called to boycott the Olympics because of the dog meat trade, but eventually it seemed that people stopped caring.
Not everyone did, though.
Canadian Olympic figure skater and two-time world champion Meagan Duhamel couldn't help but bring a new friend home as she traveled back from South Korea at the end of January last year. Duhamel, a vegan and animal lover, adopted a two-year-old miniature Daschund who had been born into the meat trade.
Mootae has now been living with Duhamel and her husband, doing yoga and making friends everywhere he goes.
''He's like a saint,'' Duhamel said. ''Most of the time, he just wants to sit in everybody's arms. He doesn't even care to play, he just walks up to everybody and wants to be held.''
Mootae's love of meditation is what drew the Olympic athlete to her new friend.
''He loved to sit with the Buddhas during meditation and yoga,'' said Duhamel, who meditates daily. ''I thought, 'Oh my God, maybe this dog has some special spiritual energy.' That was really why I chose him.''
Even though she already brought one dog home, Duhamel says there's no plans of stopping. The Olympic champion, who has already won one gold medal at the PyeongChang games, is working with the Toronto-based organization Free Korean Dogs to bring more dogs home, even if she won't be adopting them all.
''I don't have the luxury of keeping another dog in my small condo,'' she said. ''As much as I would love to."
A big thank you to all the news outlets that are sharing my story about rescuing Mootae from Korea! Mootae loves his brother Theo, who is also a rescue dog. Thanks to my dog walker and dog sitter @fotogeanick for this photo of my angels while I’m away at the #olympics #freekoreandogs #adoptdontshop #rescuedogs #Mootae #Theo @beaglefreedom @freekoreandogs @hsiglobal
Duhamel's outspokenness about the cruelty these dogs are facing is not something the PyeongChang government was hoping for, but it's something that needs more attention brought to it.