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Namhan Mountain's Abandoned Dogs PDF Print E-mail

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On Sunday, March 6, 2010, some KARA members on a rescue mission headed to the Namhan mountain area East of Seoul, near Songnam. It’s a mountain area famous for the South Han Mountain Fortress, one of Korea’s cultural treasures. But what isn’t such a cultural highlight of the area are the animal trappers and dog killers roaming around.

The KARA team converged at the Ju-Gong apartment complex to help catch and rescue three dogs who were living in the hills behind the apartments. Presumably they had been abandoned as various times. People in Korea often abandon their pets (of all kinds) in mountainous areas. These dogs were the survivors of a campaign by unethical individuals to hunt them down and kill them.

Although the dogs might happier with their freedom in the mountain than in a shelter, their days are numbered without protection.

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This is one of the fates we are trying to rescue them from: snare traps.

There is a lady in her 60’s at the Ju-Gong complex who has been feeding the mountain dogs. Initially there were 6 to 10 dogs. It is know that one yellow dog--known to be people-friendly--was trapped and beaten to death by three men in 2008. There were eyewitnesses to this crime. Reportedly, a woman tenant in a nearby apartment had requested that the men kill the dog. It is not known why.

As well as the old lady, a daughter of a friend of hers is also concerned with the dogs’ welfare, and both of them have stayed up at nights many times watching out for the dogs. They have seen three men also watching the dogs, laying glue traps and poison.

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Here is an example of the ignorance and stupidity of using poison baits. They kill indiscriminately. This is what looks like a wild raccoon dog, found dead on the day of the rescue attempt.

One evening, these men were seen with their wives, carrying tools and one had a big sack over his shoulders. The daughter went outside and followed them to the subway station. She overheard them saying, “There are dogs up over there.” And she suspects that in the sack was a dog that had been killed. She went up to them and asked them a question unrelated to the dogs, so she could get a real close look at their faces. What she suspects is that they are restaurant owners. Perhaps they are killing dogs for cheap meat.

The government, which the old lady refuses to help, has been trying to control the area’s dog population. Apparently, some puppies born to the hill dogs were found and taken by city officials. Their mother was left behind to mourn the loss of her puppies. Other puppies born later were found trapped in glue traps by the old woman and rescued. But some other puppies were stolen by the killers, and it is likely they were killed or stuck in some hellhole until they grew large enough for slaughter, as is often the practice in Korea.

The attempt to rescue the remaining dogs was not without its problems. First, people arrived a little late (which is often unavoidable in Seoul). A camerawoman from the SBS’s Animal Farm TV show was also there, doing a story about the stray dogs in the hills to educate people about the cruelty of poisons, glue traps and other traps. However, she was interviewing the locals woman and took a long time about it, taking up valuable rescue time.

In the late afternoon, a first rescue attempt was made. The old woman had cooked some meat and with it she had attracted three dogs inside a netted area a little way up a hill. Two female KARA members were called once the dogs were in the netted area and rushed up the hill. Unfortunately, at this time of year, all the dry leaves made a lot of noise and this scared the dogs aware.

It was a missed opportunity. A dinner was made for everyone by the old woman’s friend, and at around 8:15, the old woman called for everyone to come quickly because she’d caught one of the dogs. The lady had a white furry dog in the net, but again after a struggle in the dark, the dog escaped. At that point, the camerawoman gave up and left. The old woman was dismayed at the outcome, as of course were the KARA members. Sometimes things just don’t work out. More people were probably needed--males preferably. It was a miscalculation.

The unfortunate thing was that the white dog was badly injured from a trap, which is still wrapped around it. According to the old woman said, the dog’s belly is cut open and smells rotten. The dog was hunched a bit because wires were tugging at its belly area. Nonetheless, it was still able to get away quickly despite any pain it might have been in.

The rescue was called off and another attempt will have to be made later. That only makes the matter more urgent. The killers and their wives and even city officials are all out to get the dogs, which means death to them one way or another. Hopefully, the injured dog will not suffer too much until we can get to her.

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