According to IDA, the truck was on its way to “Boknal,” a South Korean dog meat festival. IDA believes the 28 dogs found stuffed in rusted cages loaded on to the vehicle were likely being driven to the festival to be slaughtered.
The canines are now in the care of the animal welfare groups, both of which are raising money to cover the dogs’ medical needs. Almost all of the animals were found to be suffering from heartworm, malnutrition and dehydration, all signs of neglect. Many of the dogs, IDA reports, had fresh injuries from fighting and clawing with the other dogs in the cramped cages.
Several of the dogs pulled from the truck still had collars on. IDA believes this means the collared canines used to be pets before they were stolen for the dog meat trade.
“Our Korean rescue partners got a tip-off about a truck piled high with rusty wire metal cages crammed full of helpless dogs packed together and rushed to the scene. Some dogs were struggling to breathe; they were packed so tightly that they could not move or even turn their heads,” IDA’s communications director, Fleur Dawes, said in a statement, obtained by PEOPLE, about the rescue.
Dawes added, “we saved 28 dogs that night, but we are heartbroken that two dogs have passed away as a result of their extreme neglect. More of the dogs are struggling and urgently need advanced veterinary care—almost all have heartworm which is very expensive to treat. We are hoping that people will be moved to give these special dogs a second chance by making a generous donation at idausa.org/endboknal.”
After their rescue, all of the surviving dogs were taken to a veterinary hospital for treatment. IDA predicts it will cost $1,000 a dog to give all the animals the basic medical care they desperately need.
“Rescue is just the first step; all the dogs will need healing, foster care, training and rehabilitation to make a complete recovery. But after seeing their eyes … how can we not save them?” Patti Kim of Jindo Love Rescue said in a statement.
While much of South Korea has shunned the consumption of dog meat, according to IDA, roughly two million dogs are eaten in the country each year, many of which are slaughtered at the annual Boknal festival.
To learn more about how you can help IDA end Boknal and care for these rescued dogs, visit IDA’s website.