Olympian Gus Kenworthy Calls South Korean Dog-Meat Farm ‘Saddest Place I’ve Ever Been’

The U.S. freestyle skier previously rescued five stray dogs during the Sochi Games in Russia

Last Updated: February 25, 2018 @ 11:52 AM

U.S. freestyle skier Gus Kenworthy denounced a South Korean dog-meat farm as “inhumane” after visiting one while attending the 2018 Winter Olympics.

Kenworthy (above left, with Shaun White), his boyfriend Matthew Wilkas and an Associated Press news crew visited the farm in Siheung, South Korea, on Friday.

“It’s one of the saddest places I’ve ever been,” the 2014 Olympic silver medalist said. “I’m honestly feeling heartbroken.”

After his last outing at the Olympics four years ago, Kenworthy rescued five stray dogs from the streets of Sochi, Russia.

According to the AP, neither Kenworthy and Wilkas wanted to dictate to Koreans what they should and shouldn’t eat, but they believe strongly that even animals raised for slaughter deserve a higher quality of life.

“Across the country there are 2.5 million dogs being raised for food in some of the most disturbing conditions imaginable,” Gus wrote in an Instagram post Friday. “Yes, there is an argument to be made that eating dogs is a part of Korean culture. And, while don’t personally agree with it, I do agree that it’s not my place to impose western ideals on the people here.

“The way these animals are being treated, however, is completely inhumane and culture should never be a scapegoat for cruelty,” he added.

This morning Matt and I had a heart-wrenching visited to one of the 17,000 dog farms here in South Korea. Across the country there are 2.5 million dogs being raised for food in some of the most disturbing conditions imaginable. Yes, there is an argument to be made that eating dogs is a part of Korean culture. And, while don’t personally agree with it, I do agree that it’s not my place to impose western ideals on the people here. The way these animals are being treated, however, is completely inhumane and culture should never be a scapegoat for cruelty. I was told that the dogs on this particular farm were kept in “good conditions” by comparison to other farms. The dogs here are malnourished and physically abused, crammed into tiny wire-floored pens, and exposed to the freezing winter elements and scorching summer conditions. When it comes time to put one down it is done so in front of the other dogs by means of electrocution sometimes taking up to 20 agonizing minutes. Despite the beliefs of the Korean public at large, these dogs are no different from the ones we call pets back home. Some of them were even pets at one time and were stolen or found and sold into the dog meat trade. Luckily, this particular farm (thanks to the hard work of the Humane Society International and the cooperation of a farmer who’s seen the error of his ways) is being permanently shut down and all 90 of the dogs here will be brought to the US and Canada where they’ll find their fur-ever homes. I adopted the sweet baby in the first pic (we named her Beemo) and she’ll be coming to the US to live with me as soon as she’s through with her vaccinations in a short couple of weeks. I cannot wait to give her the best life possible! There are still millions of dogs here in need of help though (like the Great Pyrenees in the 2nd pic who was truly the sweetest dog ever). I’m hoping to use this visit as an opportunity to raise awareness to the inhumanity of the dog meat trade here in Korea and the plight of dogs everywhere, including back home in the US where millions of dogs are in need of loving homes! Go to @hsiglobal’s page to see how you can help. #dogsarefriendsnotfood #adoptdontshop ❤????

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The Siheung dog meat farm is a 45-minute drive from downtown Seoul. Puppies and their mothers live inside a narrow plant house, surrounded by rusty pipes, grimy ceramic pots and old mattresses, the AP reported. Outside, more dogs are chained or locked in wire cages.

The Humane Society International aims to shut down such farms, including the one in Siheung, and also offer resources to farmers who want out of the dog meat industry. The organization’s ultimate goal is to pressure the South Korean government into ending the industry.

In October 2015, Kenworthy became the first action-sports star to publicly come out, after sharing that he’s gay in an ESPN interview with senior writer Alyssa Roenigk.
“I never got to be proud of what I did 
in Sochi because I felt so horrible about what I didn’t do,” he said, about not talking openly about his sexuality at the 2014 Games. “I didn’t want to come out as the silver medalist from Sochi. I wanted to come out as the best freeskier in the world.”
Kenworthy has been in a relationship with American theatre and film actor Wilkas since November 2015.