This week, a dozen employees of Coexistence of Animal Rights on Earth (CARE) have requested the resignation of the director, Park So-yeon, after a whistleblower came forward to declare that the shelter had secretly euthanized. more than 230 dogs in the last three years.
CARE has long been campaigning to save the animals from the South Korean trade of dog meat. The shelter drew national attention in 2017 after President Moon Jae-in adopted the country's "first dog", named Tory, from the shelter. Moon, a longtime animal rights advocate, posed for photos with CARE staff, including its director.
Lim has not responded to several attempts to reach her. CARE staff stated that she was not available for an interview.
According to Lim, CARE's 100% rescue rate policy quickly led to overcrowding. Park would have started to euthanize the animals, starting with sick and aggressive dogs, but more generally.
Lim submitted to Newstapa an invoice – posted later online – allegedly from an animal carcass collection company, charging CARE for the collection of 5.7 tonnes of carcasses between 2015 and 2018. An employee CARE told CNN to have seen the document and confirmed the figure. but it is unknown how many carcasses were caused by euthanasia or natural death.
The case against Park was reinforced by the recording of a conversation, allegedly between Park and Lim, that seems to corroborate claims that she deliberately euthanized healthy dogs.
In the recording, which was heard by CNN but that it was not able to independently verify, one can hear a woman discussing how to conceal the death of the deceased. half a dozen dogs rescued from the country's dog race.
The rescue of the dogs in 2016 had been widely announced by Park. But when members of the media asked Park to provide updated information later that year, we heard the lady of the call suggest to her to buy new dogs to conceal their death. .
"We have to say that they were sick or that they had just expired," said the woman's voice when the call leaked. "If we say that some have perished, it will not be a problem, how will we adapt to the number?" If we bring several from one place at a time, it will be suspicious. here and there, will not be known, their muzzle can be dyed a little darker. "
Shame and scandal
Many of the speakers were overwhelmed by emotion and burst into tears when their colleagues spoke of their devastation to the news.
"I am very ashamed and terribly sorry for the animals that have died for no reason," said Lee Mi-hee, who worked for CARE in dog salvage for two and a half years.
She blamed the situation on a more general pattern of questionable behavior on Park's part, including "coercive orders, blind rescues, and unplanned damage to be resolved by employees."
"The fact that this is the result of following her blindly makes me feel ashamed and disappointed myself," added Lee.
In a statement on CARE's social media, Park said the group "did its best to save them, but some animals had to be abandoned for various reasons in extreme circumstances."
She added that only a small number of animals had been euthanized "for unavoidable reasons after a general discussion between staff".
Kim Tae-hwan, CARE's PR manager, told CNN that the staff "did not agree with this explanation".
"The revelations show that the number of animals killed was not at all minimal," he said. "There were many arbitrary orders to euthanize animals."
According to Kim, the shelter staff was shocked by the report. Nobody at CARE, with the exception of senior executives, was involved in euthanasia, he said. Staff are now asking for Park's immediate resignation so the charity can continue to function. They also blamed Lim, the whistleblower, for failing to come forward earlier and helping Park euthanize animals for years.
At the press conference, CARE staff had a new problem: many donors reduced their funding in response to this news.
"There are still 600 animals in the CARE shelter, do not forget about them, please," said Animal Manager Lee Eun-hye. "Animals do not deserve that."