Freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy has been an active voice for the LGBTQ community during the Winter Olympics in Pyeongchang, South Korea. Today he stood up for the rights of another group in need of support: puppies. And he found one to bring home.
Kenworthy posted photos to Instagram on Friday, explaining that he and his boyfriend Matthew Wilkas made a “heart-wrenching” visit to a South Korean dog farm. In the caption, the athlete said they found the dogs they had been told were living in “good conditions” were actually malnourished, physically abused, and living in cramped, freezing quarters.
Kenworthy admitted it’s not his “place to impose western ideals” on Koreans, even when it comes practices he doesn’t agree with, like eating dogs. But, he wrote, “the way these animals are being treated, however, is completely inhumane and culture should never be a scapegoat for cruelty.”
This morning Matt and I had a heart-wrenching visited to one of the 17,000 dog farms here in South Korea. Across the country there are 2.5 million dogs being raised for food in some of the most disturbing conditions imaginable. Yes, there is an argument to be made that eating dogs is a part of Korean culture. And, while don't personally agree with it, I do agree that it's not my place to impose western ideals on the people here. The way these animals are being treated, however, is completely inhumane and culture should never be a scapegoat for cruelty. I was told that the dogs on this particular farm were kept in "good conditions" by comparison to other farms. The dogs here are malnourished and physically abused, crammed into tiny wire-floored pens, and exposed to the freezing winter elements and scorching summer conditions. When it comes time to put one down it is done so in front of the other dogs by means of electrocution sometimes taking up to 20 agonizing minutes. Despite the beliefs of the Korean public at large, these dogs are no different from the ones we call pets back home. Some of them were even pets at one time and were stolen or found and sold into the dog meat trade. Luckily, this particular farm (thanks to the hard work of the Humane Society International and the cooperation of a farmer who's seen the error of his ways) is being permanently shut down and all 90 of the dogs here will be brought to the US and Canada where they'll find their fur-ever homes. I adopted the sweet baby in the first pic (we named her Beemo) and she'll be coming to the US to live with me as soon as she's through with her vaccinations in a short couple of weeks. I cannot wait to give her the best life possible! There are still millions of dogs here in need of help though (like the Great Pyrenees in the 2nd pic who was truly the sweetest dog ever). I'm hoping to use this visit as an opportunity to raise awareness to the inhumanity of the dog meat trade here in Korea and the plight of dogs everywhere, including back home in the US where millions of dogs are in need of loving homes! Go to @hsiglobal's page to see how you can help. #dogsarefriendsnotfood #adoptdontshop
Kenworthy said the farm they visited is, fortunately, being permanently shut down, and the 90 dogs living there will be placed with families in the U.S. and Canada. And even better news—Kenworthy adopted one of the pups himself. He and Wilkas named her Beemo.
“I’m hoping to use this visit as an opportunity to raise awareness to the inhumanity of the dog meat trade here in Korea and the plight of dogs everywhere, including back home in the U.S. where millions of dogs are in need of loving homes!” Kenworthy wrote.
The Olympian undoubtedly has a soft spot for rescuing animals. During the 2014 Winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, Kenworthy fell in love with a group of stray puppies roaming the streets.
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