[Ed. Note: For background information, see Latest Statistics on Korean Animal Cull, January 2011, S. Korea Offers Therapy Amid Massive Animal Cull.
Thank you for expressing your concerns to the Consulate General of the Republic of Korea in Toronto regarding the recent live burials of animals in Korea. The response to our Action Alert has been overwhelming, with hundreds of emails sent. Our letter writing campaign has since been joined by some of our international sister organizations (Eyes on Animals in The Netherlands and Serbian Animals Voice), helping raise awareness worldwide.
Many of you have since received an answer from the Consul of the Republic of Korea, stating that “there might have been cases in some areas in which the execution of the livestock was not conducted thoroughly and therefore resulted in the infliction of pain to the livestock” but that the South Korea government will “ensure that the livestock are properly destroyed in compliance with the OIE Terrestrial Animal Health Code”.
Yet, while this reassuring response was provided by the Consulate, pigs, cows, goats and deer affected by Foot and Mouth Disease, as well as chickens and ducks affected by Avian Influenza, continued to be buried alive. Information about these live burials is being suppressed in most English news reports, but Korean language newspapers continue providing evidence of the continuation of the live burials. In fact, 60 dogs were recently buried alive at a farm where a cow had been affected with Foot and Mouth Disease. Activists from Korean animal protection group KARA estimate that, to this day, a minimum of 97% of all animals killed as a result of the outbreaks have been buried alive since November 29, 2010. An article from a Korean website provides additional insight into the horror of the killings: “Countless civil servants, people from animal protection authorities, and farm owners say they are still suffering from hallucinations of pigs squealing and mother pigs struggling to protect their piglets as they were being buried alive.”
Another alarming area of concern is the use of succinyl choline as a means of "euthanasia" for animals, cows in particular. Far from providing a quick, painless death, succinyl choline is a neuromuscular blocking agent which sedates the muscles but leaves the animals fully conscious and aware of their surroundings. The animals slowly lose the ability to use their limbs, and then slowly suffocate due to paralysis of their breathing muscles while saliva pools in their throat due to lack of functional swallowing muscles. In short, the drug causes the animals to slowly suffocate to death while choking.
Countless more animals risk being subjected to this unacceptable death as we have learned that the Korean Agricultural and Food Administration not only authorized the domestic production of succinyl choline, but also imported large quantities of the drug from China. From this, we can deduce that Korean officials plan to continue using this inhumane means of killing.
At present, the killing seems to have slowed following mass vaccinations of animals. However, the Foot and Mouth Disease outbreak is still not under control, and the mass movement of people about to cross the country (and possibly transporting meat products) for the upcoming Lunar New Year celebrations, may spread the disease further, leading to more killings.
In addition, a rare case of Avian Flu, for which there is no cure or vaccine,
was found in Gangwon Province on January 20, putting another 3,000-6,000 birds
at risk of being buried alive. Clearly, more pressure is needed to prevent
further cruel deaths by asking the Korean government to not only stop the live
burial of animals but to also stop its use of succinyl choline.
We will continue to follow this matter closely, and will let you know if further actions need to be taken. In the meantime, we encourage you to visit Korea Animal Rights Advocates for timely updates. The Korea Animal Rights Advocates are doing courageous and risky work to document the atrocities done to animals. They deserve all our support.
Thank you for standing with us for farm animals in this tragedy.