Auschwitz begins wherever someone looks at a slaughterhouse and thinks: they’re only animals. (Theodor Adorno)
There are eight dogs—the condemned, on their last day in this dirty and desolate and cramped hellhole, enveloped in an eerie darkness, as dark as a prison. They are huddled together in a pile on a cold and unforgiving slab of cement, gripped with fear, faces looming out of the black depths, eyes staring out, no food or water anywhere, soon to be electrocuted or hanged once the sun rises, becoming meat for the restaurants. One of the dogs is coughing, seemingly racked with pain. A few others try and hide behind the pile, crouching in against the back wall, trembling uncontrollably. Their misery is mostly silent, even when they hear whispers of encouragement. When gentle hands approach to try and move them, they scatter nervously, probably sensing that this is the ghastly end. But on this day, they evade the executioner, a reprieve from ending up in the refrigerator with the other hanging dogs. Little goats are hanging in the other refrigerator. The implements of killing are in plain view—the blowtorch used for burning the dogs’ hair off, the metal chain for hanging the dogs by the neck, the electric shock probe for electrocution, and the rotating drum for removing of all the remaining fur.
They are instead ushered out as fast as they will allow (a few are nearly frozen in terror as well as very weak and therefore carried) and then lifted into the awaiting van, belonging to Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE), and into the world of the living. The sun is just coming up.
The dogs are immediately driven to a veterinary hospital at some distance, where, in the next few weeks, they will all receive intensive medical treatment for canine distemper (measles) and two for heartworm disease. All of them have yellow nasal mucus, little or no appetite, loose stool or diarrhea; some are coughing, have asthenia, bloody stools, and convulsions; a few are in terrible pain. Eight very diseased dogs, some of whom won’t make it, destined for restaurants or perhaps, in a ridiculous irony, for health food stores sold as dog liquor or gaesoju, a broth made of dog meat and mixed with Asian herbs, with its alleged miraculous medicinal properties for overall health—dogs plagued by illness eaten for good health.
According to a television program that aired in South Korea in 2011, “South Korea’s Dangerous Health Food—Inconvenient Truth About Dog Meat,” since there is no law regulating the industry of dog slaughter, the majority of dog slaughterhouses are not properly sanitary and the equipment they use is contaminated. The television’s undercover team saw a swarm of flies buzzing around a dead dog lying on a filthy table. On the walls were stains of blood and bodily fluids and the slaughterers were not wearing hygienic uniforms. The dogs were being processed on a dirty cement floor.
Out of this “darkness visible,” or what Milton called Hell, we give the surviving dogs names: Hwang-Bo, Hocheong aka Hopi, Charles, Fox, and Yong-Jeon. As we do for the ones we lose: Hite, Umsal, and Padu (RIP).
After treatment and recovery, funded by IDA, with CARE’s contribution and crucial assistance, they stay at CARE’s shelter, where the caretakers lavish them with attention. Once at death’s door, their lives are transformed. IDA obtained the video footage of the slaughterhouse from CARE.
Fox arrived in Los Angeles, where she is being fostered. Hwang-Bo was flown to Las Vegas, where she fostered by a longtime rescuer, and Yong-Jeon was recently transported to Chicago, where his new family met him and drove back to their home in Cincinnati. He is now called Gandhi. (See Rescues)