Athena, the 1-year-old Jindo mix, grew up on a dog meat farm in Namyangju, Korea. She was expecting a litter of puppies any day.
With winter fast approaching, her soon-to-be-born pups would not survive the freezing temperatures, locked inside cages with no protection from the wind.
Luckily, the rescuers from Humane Society International (HSI) saved her and 170 other dogs from being slaughtered for food. This is a practice that remains legal in the country despite a major push for change by younger Korean generations and activists.
After flying through California, Athena and nine of the other dogs arrived in Wisconsin to be cared for by the Humane Animal Welfare Society of Waukesha County (HAWS). Athena got a warm bath before she was put her in a kennel with cozy blankets so she could get some rest after her long plane trip.
To the worker’s surprise, the next morning, Athena was surrounded by six newborn puppies.
“We thought that Athena may have been pregnant, but it was really hard for us to tell how far along she may have been since she was pretty underweight,” Jessica Pinkos, director of special projects for HAWS, said. “It’s amazing that she was able to hold them in throughout all of the travelings until she knew she was safe.”
Athena was malnourished from her former life, however, all six of her babies are healthy and at a normal weight for their age, Pinkos said.
Athena is now living in a foster home and is proving to be a great mom to her three boys and three girls.
“She’s a very nice mother and is so sweet to everyone,” Pinkos said. “After the babies were born, she let us pick them right up to check on them and make sure everything was good. She’s making more than enough milk to feed them, too, which is great considering she was malnourished during her pregnancy.”
The mortality rate for puppies at dog farms is high. If Athena’s pups were born at the farm and survived through the winter, they would have been sold into the dog meat trade once they grew big enough, Raul Arce-Contreras, spokesperson for HSl, said.
“It’s very common for us to find pregnant dogs and puppies at the farms,” Arce-Contreras said. “If we had not intervened in this farm, Athena would have given birth there.”
This is the tenth rescue from a Korean dog meat farm by HSI in the past three years. Many of the dog farmers are looking to get rid of their dog and enter a more humane industry.
Over 1,200 dogs have been rescued and placed into safe homes throughout the United States and abroad. The rescuers can now add six more to their tally with Athena’s tiny bundles of joy.
Some of Athena’s puppies have already been pre-adopted by friends of HAWS, she and the remaining puppies will be looking for forever homes soon.
“Once Athena raises her family, I’m sure she will find a home very soon,” Pinkos said.
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