Between March 2022 and January 2023, a PETA Asia investigator visited four puppy mills in South Korea. Since then, PETA filed complaints with the government and four police stations and we have been waiting for action to be taken—however, the facilities have been allowed to continue to operate legally. In them, frightened dogs frantically pace back and forth in cramped, filthy cages amid the constant deafening sound of barking, while the puppy mill owners with government connections rake in hundreds of millions of South Korean won annually. One owner divulged that he breeds animals both for the “pet” trade and for dogfighting. When dogs can no longer fight, they’re sold for meat and killed. Another breeder suggested removing dogs’ vocal cords and implied that he unintentionally killed a dog by administering an erroneous injection.
Unsanitary, Inadequate, Hazardous Housing
The frightened dogs are held in perilously dilapidated cages and kennels encrusted with feces. Even some of the small dogs can barely turn around. Many cages are rusty, which could expose the dogs to tetanus. Forced to stand on wire flooring that could seriously injure their paws, dogs are deprived of proper rest. Small dogs can become entrapped or be severely injured if their legs fall through the wire mesh, and the constant need to tread carefully is psychologically and physically distressing. There is no comfort at all—no bedding, no toys—let alone love, companionship, exercise, and protection from the cold.
With piles of feces decomposing beneath them and ammonia fumes polluting the air, dogs in these four puppy mills are at constant risk of infectious and parasitic diseases. Water and food bowls are dirty, and the stench from their waste is so irritating that it can damage their skin, eyes, and respiratory tracts. The facilities are so unsanitary that newborn puppies in them can die quickly from bacterial and viral diseases. They also pose a threat to public health, as many forms of bacteria and parasites that are transmissible among dogs can also spread to humans.
Dogs Suffering From Painful Skin Lesions and Chronic Stress
Video footage shows dogs languishing with large, open, inflamed lesions on their bodies that are likely caused by infections, pressure sores from improper flooring, trauma, or allergies. Many dogs suffer from persistent skin infections, which inflict relentless itching, swelling, scabbing over, pain, and debilitation. If left untreated, these agonizing skin conditions can turn into serious medical problems.
Out of boredom and anxiety, the dogs are constantly jumping up and down, pacing back and forth, and barking, and the sound is so loud that it can immediately cause pain and hearing damage. But they are so terrified of humans that when someone approaches, they cower and freeze.
Mothers and Puppies Separated Too Early
Puppies younger than 6 weeks old are torn away from their mothers, which is far too early. This can lead to a greater risk of illness, future social and behavioral problems like biting, a compromised immune system, and psychological distress and anxiety for both the puppies and their mothers. The puppies are still learning critical skills from their mothers at that age, and they may not be ready to be weaned—certainly not abruptly—from their mothers’ nourishment, which is important for their health and well-being.
Claims of Animal Welfare Certifications Are Meaningless
The owner of the puppy mill boasted that his business is the only one in South Korea that maintains high standards of animal welfare. He claimed that he has been praised by the Ministry of Agriculture, Food, and Rural Affairs as an exemplary breeder. Clearly, this praise was unwarranted. PETA filed complaints with the ministry, urging it to investigate the mills for possible violations of the Animal Protection Act but received no reply. We also filed complaints with four police stations, each corresponding with a puppy mill location. Only one station actually visited a mill—and still failed to press charges.
Saved From This Hellhole, Paalang Has Found Her Heaven-Sent Family
When PETA’s investigator saw Paalang, it was obvious that she couldn’t be left in such hellish living conditions. The little dog appeared to be blind, possibly because of inbreeding or a prolonged, untreated illness caused by her filthy living conditions. Scared and confused in the noisy kennel, she went around in endless circles.
Paalang was rushed to a veterinarian, who confirmed that she wasn’t able to see or bark. She also had to be treated for ear mites. But despite everything that she had been through, the sweet dog reveled in her rescuer’s affection—likely the only kindness she had ever experienced.
Now that she has been adopted into a new healthy, loving environment, Paalang’s circling behavior has diminished, as has her fear of the outdoors. She enjoys going for walks and has discovered how to play with other dogs she meets at the park. Her rescuer chose her beautiful new name because Paalang is a Korean word that refers to the soft fluttering of a butterfly’s wings. Like a caterpillar transforming into a butterfly, the dog who once cowered in fear of her surroundings is now learning how to explore, trust, and love.
Pledge Only to Adopt—Never Buy—Companion Animals
Adopting companion dogs helps dogs who are desperate for a home, instead of enriching greedy, cruel breeders who produce puppies for a profit.