Three years ago, the Humane Society of the United States and Humane Society International embarked on an important campaign in South Korea, the only nation in the world where dogs are raised on commercial farms to be slaughtered for their meat. There are thousands of such farms and millions of dogs trapped in them. But we’ve helped to transition a number of farmers to humane livelihoods and relocated their dogs for adoption. So far, we’ve closed down 11 dog meat farms and rescued more than 1,200 animals. Through this approach, we have sought not simply to stop cruelty on a few farms, but to give the dog farmers and the Korean government a pathway to phase them out altogether.
This approach to effecting change for animals in diverse nations and cultures has special relevance for me. I have worked at the HSUS for the last 26 years in a number of leadership positions, and in February I became the first woman to serve as acting president and CEO in the organization’s history. I joined the organization in 1992 as a legal investigator and have focused on our work against horse slaughter and the killing of dogs and cats for their fur in China, and the protection of whales, dolphins and other wildlife. I’ve represented the organization and its affiliates in numerous meetings of the Convention on International Trade in Endangered Species of Wild Fauna and Flora (CITES) and the International Whaling Commission. Through this work and as president of HSI, I’ve developed a broad perspective on our work both domestically and internationally.
I’m excited to be leading the HSUS at one of the most hopeful times in the history of animal protection. The progress we’ve made as a movement has been tremendous, and we and our affiliates have, over the last six decades, taken on the toughest battles for all animals around the globe. Every day I’m inspired by the work my colleagues are doing.
As most of you know, our organization works with local shelters and rescues in many ways—including partnering to find homes for many of the dogs we’ve rescued in South Korea. I’m hugely grateful for those relationships, which strengthen our capacity to help animals who are suffering now and increase our ability to work toward less suffering in the future.
Our leadership team on companion animal issues will be working to strengthen those alliances and partnerships over the coming years. In this space in Animal Sheltering magazine, expect to hear from me from time to time, but also to hear from more of our staff who work on the issues you’re dealing with every day—finding homes for your adoptable animals, looking at ways to increase interagency collaboration, helping outdoor cats, providing resources to keep pets in homes and so much more. I’m excited for you to meet more of the incredible people here.
We’ve got a lot in the works, and we’re looking forward to hearing from you about your challenges and successes. Change for animals comes much easier when the people who care about them work together.