When the former president of South Korea, Geun Hye Park, took up residence in the Blue House, she brought with her two Jindo dogs—a male and a female—a gift from a neighbor, and she formally registered herself as their owner.
The dogs were not neutered and consequently bred twice. The first litter of five puppies were sold. The second litter of seven pups, born in February 2017—a month before she was ousted by the courts—stayed at the Blue House.
She often showed her apparent love for the Jindo breed by saying things like “We need to work like the Jindo dog.” or by ordering the Pyeongchang Winter Olympics’ mascot be changed from a tiger to a Jindo, which would have incurred huge costs to do so.
She also pledged to adopt abandoned dogs or visit shelters for abandoned animals in the policy inquiry which 10 organizations, including Voice4Animals, had sent to her at the time of the presidential election. But, she never visited any shelter nor adopted any abandoned dogs during her term of office. In other words, she ignored all the pledges she made after she became president. And, the Jindo dogs at the Blue House were abandoned. She left them and went off to her mansion alone.
We cannot help but suspect that she just used the dogs to improve her image, threw them out when they no longer served that purpose.
A Blue House official said that the puppies will be put up for adoption or sent to a shelter.
After we raised the issue of their handling of the situation, and after the Busan KSPCA (Korean) accused them of abandoning the dogs, the Blue House suddenly changed their position by announcing that they will send all the dogs to the Jindo Preservation Society, which apparently aims to preserve the pure bloodline of the Jindo. We asked them not to send the dogs to the Jindo Preservation Society as they had been living in a large grassy yard, and instead suggested they allow us to help them find suitable homes.
They are ignoring our request, and furthermore, they are refusing to answer our question about where the Jindo Preservation Society is.
The method of preserving the Jindo bloodline is inhumane since they separate individuals by appearance and body type even though they come from the same mother. Puppies that do not have the correct look are removed from the group1. Additionally, the preservation of the pure Jindo bloodline has also become a commercial enterprise, and the bloodline of a Jindo dog owned by a former president would be a high-value commodity. Treating them as a valuable resource to be exploited in this way is worse than abandonment.
She had pledged to adopt abandoned dogs before the election, yet abandoning nine dogs to become breeding dogs is truly disappointing behavior. Many Koreans adopt abandoned dogs and treat them like family, taking them with them when they move house.
Companion animals are happy when they are with their people. Companion animals may only be one part of a human’s life, yet for the animals, that human is all of their life. This is especially true for the Jindo, as loyalty is one of its defining traits.
Animals are lives, not products, and protecting them is protecting a life in a broader sense. Geun Hye Park should have demonstrated the duty to protect life as the head of a nation. Yet she did not, and so we strongly condemn her behavior.
Featured image: Saenuridang
(1) Large numbers of Jindo dogs are being abused, neglected, and abandoned. Many of them are slaughtered for dog meat.