South Korea has shut down the country’s largest dog meat factory, a move animal rights activists hope could signal the end of a practice that sees about a million of the animals slaughtered every year.
Government officials began dismantling a massive slaughterhouse complex in Seongnam city, a suburb of Seoul, on Thursday that was large enough to hold hundreds of dogs at a time. Dog meat is eaten as a delicacy in some parts of South Korea, often during summer, Agency France-Presse notes, and the dish is believed to increase energy.
The practice has grown out of fashion in recent years, however, as more South Koreans have begun to keep dogs as pets and younger people increasingly see it as taboo.
The Taepyeong-dong complex in Seongnam city, south of Seoul, will be cleared over two days and converted into a public park.
About one million dogs are consumed every year and activists have sought to end the custom.
Dog meat was once considered a delicacy in South Korea, but attitudes have changed in recent years.
“This is a historic moment,” Korean Animal Rights Advocates (KARA) said in a statement. “It will open the door for more closures of dog meat slaughterhouses across the country, expediting the decline of the overall dog meat industry.”
The Taepyeong-dong complex – an important source of meat for restaurants across the country – housed at least six slaughterhouses, holding several hundred animals at a time.
Campaigners from Humane Society International (HSI) described conditions inside the complex as “horrifying”. They reported seeing electrocution equipment used to slaughter the dogs, knives and a de-hairing machine.