In early May, we received a call to rescue donkeys and a dog that were being forced to work and abused every weekend in front of Pak Kyongni Literature Hall in Hadong County, South Gyeongsang Province.
The dog, a small puppy, had to lie down on top of the donkey even though it was very difficult to balance. It was forced to lie still, which was evidently unnatural and difficult. Thankfully, the dog was rescued by the renowned Korean novelist Gong Ji-young.
The donkeys still needed rescuing.
One donkey was made to carry people constantly and when it was tied up, it wasn’t allowed to move, or even drink water, and simply had to endure the heat. Its condition was very serious. Even though animal activist Son Ji-yeon and others made a complaint to the county office, nothing was done.
CARE staff quickly made their way down to Hadong for the rescue.
When we arrived, we found the other donkey about 500m away from the farm inside a truck. It had both its hind legs tied up, so it couldn’t even move an inch. The truck was filled with feces, and the young donkey was screaming in pain and expressing distress through his whole body.
We couldn’t just leave the donkeys. We had to save them by informing the county office. So, we decided to stay and not budge until a rescue became feasible.
This was the beginning of a fight for the donkeys’ freedom.
The vet, who came all the way to Hadong from Gyeonggi Province, informed us after examination that the donkeys’ legs were in a very critical condition. When compared to a human, it was comparable to being forced to walk in high heels on concrete all day long. The unbalanced legs would cause a lot of pain.
We informed the Hadong County office that the donkey needed emergency treatment. We also had citizens making civil complaints to the office.
Evident animal abuse
According to the Animal Protection Act Article 8 Clause 2 Paragraph 1, injuring an animal by using a tool is not permissible. Paragraph 3 prohibits injuring an animal for entertainment or leisure, while Paragraph 4 states that causing pain or injury to an animal without proper reason is not permitted.
The donkeys wore gags all day, and were not given any water to drink by the owner. They also had to carry a heavy metal load in the heat. The younger donkey was not let down from the truck while we were there. We untied its hind feet and took off his gag. But the next morning, we found the gag in place again and the two hind legs had been re-tied.
Onlookers claimed that the owner treated the donkeys very cruelly.
However, county officials initially claimed that there was no animal abuse, so it took us a lot of persuasion. This continued until the dawn of the 25th. The rescue was finally sanctioned around 2 a.m.
Necessary treatment and other management fees had to be discussed in addition, which had to be done as soon as the day began.
Freeing the Rescue Donkeys
At daybreak we resumed our talks with the county officials. And the result was a dramatic one: the county agreed to take the donkeys from their owner, and pass their ownership to CARE. This was really the best possible outcome, because even with an emergency segregation that the law allows, there is a loophole for the owner to regain his property.
The writer Gong Ji-young named the rescue donkeys Dang-shil and Dang-ah. Both animals were taken to a temporary shelter in Gyeonggi Province. Once they have been treated and their condition stabilized, the two rescue donkeys will be going to a foster home on Jeju Island that she has provided for them.
We’d like to thank Gong Ji-young for rescuing Dongbaek, the small dog, and for finding a new home for the rescue donkeys. We’d also like to thank the citizens who made civil complaints, the vet who came all the way from Gyeonggi Province, the county governor, all our activists, and others we don’t know the names of.
Because of your support, we were able to save the rescue donkeys, Dang-shil and Dang-ah.