Part of the focus of this weekend's "Walk and Wag" fundraiser for the Leon County Humane Society was the fate of 4 special rescue dogs.
These animals were literally snatched from the jaws of death, as Local Humane Society Director Lisa Glunt explained.
"When we were originally contacted by our partners at the Humane Society of the United States, they asked if we'd be willing to take on some of these dogs? she recalled. "We had to look at it and see if this was something our community - mainly those supporting our cause - would be in favor of. And was this something we might face backlash from, which we did."
The 4 dogs came from a South Korean farm where they were being raised, not for human affection, but for human consumption. Glunt said not everyone thought saving these dogs was a good idea.
"'Why are you rescuing these dogs when there are thousands of dogs here in the United States that die in shelters everyday?'" said Glunt, repeating one of the most commonly voiced objections. "And the reason for this was because we do so much in our community. Our community has resources. The (animal) shelter, several rescue groups in town, there are so many ways that people can find resources that they need from pet food assistance to spay/neuter vouchers to vaccinations."
Despite the opposition in some quarters, Glunt said she and her organization leadership decided to go ahead with the rescue. "We were not only taking these dogs and saving their lives, but really allowing the opportunity for other rescues to see the positive impact that can be made and these dogs were being rescued from farms where they were facing extreme neglect and extreme abuse and basically were never socialized in their whole lives. At the same time, Glunt said this was also a rescue of sorts for the people involved in the dog meat farms.
"They're not only helping the dogs, they're helping the people," she insisted. "South Korea has turned away from this dog meat, especially after younger people have seen the cruelty involved in these farms. And so the farmers are looking for a new way of earning a living over there (in) so closing down these farms and rescuing these dogs, the farmers are also given a new form, generally in growing crops and the organization's that over there is also assisting them to get that going."
So in late July, 4 large crates arrived in Tallahassee bearing the dogs.
"We took two adults, 'Emily' and 'Lexi' who is about 2 (years old) and we took two puppies who were about 5 months old." It was a photo of one of the older dogs in her meat farm cage, Glunt said, that focused so much public attention on the animals' plight.
"Emily serves as a poster child. She has gone from (our) picking her up at the airport in a crate on which was posted notes from the rescue workers that took her out of this farm. Things like, 'We love you from South Korea!' Seeing that and seeing their terrified eyes."
After receiving much needed medical attention, Glunt said all 4 dogs were placed in foster homes. "It takes a really special kind of foster parent to be able to work with these dogs," she said.
"No house training, terrified in every situation, so tiny baby steps. And (with) the puppies we did seem improvements a little quicker and they were able to get adopted, both of them into separate homes, which is wonderful!"
As to the status of the two older and more deeply traumatized dogs, "Emily and Lexi are still awaiting their forever homes," Glunt said, "But they have been doing phenomenal in their foster homes. Their fosters who see them and interact with them every day rave about them say they're doing great, they love playing with (other) dogs outside, they're eating really well, they like being petted now. So incredible updates from those and I have absolutely no doubt that both of them will find adoptive homes very soon."
We'll let you know what happens with them.